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Book: Searching for Structure in Pottery Analysis

Chapter: Producing Structure: The Role of Ceramic Production in Understanding Chaco-period Communities in the American Southwest

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.24657


Pottery assemblages from two neighboring Chaco-period (AD 1050-1130) communities in west-central New Mexico are used to explore several different components of community organization. These communities are located at the interface of two of the American Southwest’s primary archaeological culture areas—Mogollon and Pueblo—and pottery assemblages include vessels attributed to both. The primary questions asked of these assemblages include whether they were locally produced by co-residing groups of people who came from different regions, and whether those peoples continued to reproduce vessels using the conventions of their homelands. Decorated pottery is used to assess the contemporaneity and attributes of the unpainted pottery assemblage, and coil thickness and indentation frequency are used to assess if manufacturing traditions differ by wares attributed to each culture area. Thickness and apparent porosity measures are used to explore vessel function, and oxidation analyses are used to assess clays used in vessel manufacture. Combined, these analyses suggest that groups from two distinct manufacturing traditions co-resided within these communities, that they manufactured unpainted jars using the conventions of their areas of origin, and that they continued to do so throughout the histories of these communities. These long-lasting traditions of manufacture served to reproduce an element of difference in items used daily, while larger scales of social action signal greater communal unity; both processes are argued to be accurate reflections and embodiments of social relations.

Chapter Contributors

  • Andrew Duff ( - aiduff) 'Washington State University'