Sunset Red

Small Sunset Red effigy vessel. Click the image to open the Sunset Red gallery.

Sunset Red is a type of Alameda Brown Ware found in the portion of the San Francisco Mountain region covered with black volcanic ash from Sunset Crater Volcano and in the Walnut Creek drainage of northern Arizona.

Archaeological Culture: Sinagua

Date Range: ca. A.D. 1070-1300 (per Christian Downum, Northern Arizona University).

Construction: By paddle and anvil.

Firing: In an oxidizing atmosphere.

Core Color: Black to light gray (rare).

Temper: Mostly black volcanic sand; occasional grain quartz sand; some angular fragments, usually reddish or tan; sometimes angular fragments almost as abundant as volcanic sand; temper particles often visible on surfaces.

Surface Finish: Exterior bowl and jar surfaces compacted or coated with red slip; scraped, smoothed, sometimes highly polished, polishing marks often conspicuous; sometimes pitted, frequently bumpy; interior bowl surfaces smoothed; almost always smudged and polished; sometimes coarsely crazed; interior jar surfaces scraped, pitted; anvil marks generally conspicuous on jar interiors.

Surface Color: Exteriors brown or red.

Forms: Bowls, jars.

Vessel Thickness: 5.5 mm to 7.4 mm, average about 6.5 mm (bowls); 3.8 to 8.3 mm; average about 6 mm (jars).

Decoration: None, except in Sunset White-on-red and Sunset Applique variants.


  • Sunset Brown – Same as Sunset Red, but lacking red slip.
  • Sunset Smudged – Same as Sunset Red, but smudged (bowls only).
  • Sunset White-on-red – Same as Sunset Red, except for the addition of white painted wide lines, ticking, and heavy triangles.
  • Sunset Applique – Same as Sunset Red, but decorated with broad appliqued swirls or nodules of clay.

Comparisons: Winona Brown, Turkey Hill Red, Tonto Red, and Tuzigoot Red all lack black volcanic sand temper. Comparable painted varieties (i.e., Turkey Hill White-on-red) also lack black volcanic sand temper.

Other Names: Flagstaff Ware.

Compiled from the following sources:
Colton, Harold. (1958) Pottery Types of the Southwest. Museum of Northern Arizona Ceramic Series No. 3D. Flagstaff, Arizona.

Compiled by:
April Peters, Northern Arizona University Anthropology Laboratories.