Western Ceramic Traditions

Prehistoric and Historic Native American Ceramics of the Western U.S.

Edited by
Suzanne Griset

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9781647690427 (paperback)
9781647690434 (ebook)

University of Utah Anthropological Papers No. 135

This volume is dedicated to studies of plainwares—the undecorated ceramics that make up the majority of prehistoric ceramic assemblages worldwide. Early analyses of ceramics focused on changes in decorative design elements to establish chronologies and cultural associations. With the development of archaeometric techniques that allow direct dating of potsherds and identification of their elemental composition and residues, plainwares now provide a new source of information about the timing, manufacture, distribution, and use of ceramics.

This book investigates plainwares from the far west, stretching into the Great Basin and the northwestern and southwestern edges of Arizona. Contributors use and explain recent analytical methods, including neutron activation, electron microprobe analysis, and thin-section optical mineralogy. They examine native ceramic traditions and how they were influenced by the Spanish mission system, and they consider the pros and cons of past approaches to ware typology, presenting a vision of how plainware analysis can be improved by ignoring the traditional “typological” approach of early ceramicists working with decorated wares.

This work provides a much-needed update to plainware studies, with new hypotheses and data that will help set the stage for future research.