Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Virgin Anasazi Ceramics

For the last few months I have been stuck in the office analyzing prehistoric ceramics. These artifacts (along with a lot of other amazing finds) were found during an excavation that my company did in St George last summer.

The 30,000 ceramic artifacts were brought back from the excavation, cleaned, cataloged, and then given to me to analyze.

I then take the ceramics and divide them into piles according to their type.

Next, each sherd is clipped and looked at under the microscope so that we could identify the temper.

If the sherd is decorated, shaped, or unique in any way then it is further analyzed.

[White Ware, Sosi, North Creek Black on Gray, Quartz Sand Temper]

[Shaped ceramic sherd; likely a gaming piece]

By the decoration and the temper, we can tell the date range that the ceramic sherd dates to.

The process is long and can be boring but we learned a lot about the sites that were excavated!

I was also able to break up the repetition of analysis by reconstructing a bowl!


[I used a fancy glue to reconstruct the bowl and the tape is just to hold it until the glue dries]

[All finished]

The bowl is pretty unique. Based on the design elements the bowl should be called "Washington" style (which usually dates 800-950 AD). However, based on the sparseness of the design it is likely that the bowl is "Mesquite" style (which dates 400-800 AD).

Based on the design, temper, and the location in which it was found (a pit house); the bowl likely dates to the early 700s AD.

I love discovery!


Lacey Lue said...

You are so cool! I love the bowl process pictures! I am so glad you pursued your dreams :)

Lindsey said...

Wow I am amazed that all of the pieces were found considering how old it was!! CRAZY--and very cool!

Rach, Mike and Allie said...

I love getting to see what you do, who knew southern utah was so interesting? :)

Jeito said...

The design style on the bowl is Washington B/G, assuming the appropriate temper. When people refer to Mesquite B/G as having sparse design or paint, it is even more sparse than what is on your bowl. Even if you consider the design elements to be sparse, it doesn't change the design style. Your bowl is Washington B/G.

Courtney N said...

I understand your point. The bowl was difficult to place so I had TWO well-know Virgin Anasazi ceramicists (one is a professor at a University in northern Utah)look at the bowl and they concluded the same thing. They both informed me that based on the DESIGN elements it should be called Washington style, but the layout and the overall sparseness of the design makes it Mesquite B/g. Either way the bowl dates to the 700s (based on radio carbon dates of the features in which it was found in) which is early (and amazing!!). I am going with what I was told by my trusted (and well respected) sources. Can we conclude that it was a transitional piece?

Anonymous said...

I will argue that Virgin Anasazi pottery is typed by design style, not by the area covered by the design, though some styles are busier than others. Calling this bowl early Washington is OK, I guess, but I don't think calling it Mesquite B/G is appropriate. Mesquite is different.I think we can agree that Margaret Lyneis is the ultimate authority on Virgin stuff. Send her a photo, and we'll accept what she says :)

Courtney N said...

I wasn't clear and I apologize for that so I will say it again: these are not MY conclusions. I did not know what to call this piece so I reached out to trusted archaeologists to help me. That's it, bottom line. You can argue with me all day but all I can say is what I've been told. You are entitled to your opinion and I appreciate that but I don't need your approval or acceptance on what is on my PERSONAL blog.

Jeito said...

Sorry for the intrusion. I simply Googled "Virgin Anasazi Ceramics" and there you were. Good luck in your career.