Ceramic Field Identification Manual
Agua Fria National Monument Project

About the Agua Fria Project | Jeddito Yellow Ware | Winslow Orange Ware | Roosevelt Red Ware
Ceramics Photo Gallery

Tonto Polychrome


PERIOD:Pueblo III-Pueblo IV

DATES: A.D. 1300-1450


Tonto Polychrome - Description

See ware description, except:

Surface Appearance: Bowl interiors are slipped and polished (white). Bowl exteriors are slipped and may be smoothed or gritty in texture (red and white) (Crown 1994:18).

Surface Color: Bowl and jar exteriors are both red and white, bowl interirors are creamy white or red.

Vessel Forms: Jars and bowls.

Rims: Variable (Crown 1994).

Temper: Well worn sand.

Paste Texture: Medium to fine.

Decoration and Paint:
Carbon black Paint: Design elements frequently cover the entire bowl interir to the rim. Black decoration occurs over white slip, never against red slip. Design elements are bold in appearance, but lack hatching (Crown 1994:19).
Hematite red slip: Red slip may be highly polished. Red slip is incorporated into design motifs on jar and bowl exteriors. Red slipped areas are never painted over
White kaoline slip: White slip appears as an outline of black designs (Colton and Hargrave 1937:90). Black design elements always occur over white slip. Black and white designs are frequently unpolished and may be gritty in appearance.Click below for pictures of Tonto Polychrome sherds:

Tonto Polychrome Sherd 1

Tonto Polychrome Sherd 2

COMPARISON: Archaeologists argue that Tonto Polychrome is a variety of Gila Polychrome (Steen 1963:5, Lindsay and Jennings 1968:13, Crown 1994:19). Although the black and red pigments used in Tonto designs are identicle in Pinto and Gila vessels, Tonto designs do not use red slip as a backdrop (VanPool et al. 1999). Instead, Tonto Polychrome is characterized by the incorporation of red slip into the exterior designs of bowls and jars (Crown 1994:19). Contrastingly, Lyons argues that Tonto Polychrome is a later manifestation of Gila Polychrome and dates to between 1340-1450 (Lyons 2005:5). Tree ring dates compiled for this project suggest that Tonto Polychrome in the Roosevelt Basin and Perry Mesa region were in use by as early as 1300.



Authored by: Matt Guebard

Authored by: 2005 NAU Ceramic Analysis class and Prof. Kelley Hays-Gilpin
Northern Arizona University - Anthropology Department

Home   Contact MNA     Contact WebMaster

Museum of Northern Arizona. All Rights Reserved.