Deadmans Black-on-red

Deadmans Black-on-red bowl sherds (interior). Click the image to open the Deadmans Black-on-red gallery.

Deadmans Black-on-red is a type of San Juan Red Ware most commonly found in northern Arizona east of the Colorado River.

Archaeological Culture: Ancestral Puebloan

Date Range: Kayenta Heartland: A.D. 780-1040 (Christenson 1994); Flagstaff Region: A.D. 750-1075 (per Christian Downum, Northern Arizona University).

Construction: By coiling.

Firing: In an oxidizing atmosphere.

Core Color: Dark gray to gray, dark brown to brick-red.

Carbon Streak: Common.

Temper: Rock, angular quartz, lesser amounts hornblende, or basalt; conspicuous in cross section of reddish color; not conspicuous on surfaces.

Surface Finish: Bowls not bumpy highly polished; horizontal polishing marks frequently conspicuous; both surfaces of bowls and exterior of jars are compacted. Slip present.

Surface Color: Red, reddish brown, interior surface of seed jars is light brownish-gray, surface color and core do not contrast when core is reddish.

Forms: Bowls predominate, dippers rare, seed jars uncommon, jars rare.

Vessel Thickness: 2 to 6.4 mm, average 3.8 mm; walls uniform in thickness (bowls); 2.4 to 5.4 mm; average 4 mm (seed jars); 3.2 to 6.7 mm; average 5 mm (jar walls).


  • Paint: Black, brown, purplish; frequently crystals show in paint.
  • Pigments: Manganese.
  • Design: Interior surface of bowls, rarely exterior, rims occasionally painted; exterior surface of jars. Geometric, 1 to 4 encircling lines beginning at base of rim; often motifs pendent from rim; lines: stripes, solid triangles; lines: straight, wavy, single or in series.

Comparisons: Bluff Black-on-red less highly polished; somewhat bumpy; pitted; bowl walls thicker; crudely executed; encircling line below rim absent; elements often arranged in circular order; curved lines and stripes common.

Other Names: Red ware with shiny paint.

Compiled from the following sources:
Christenson, Andrew. (1994) A Test of Mean Ceramic Dating Using Well-Dated Kayenta-Anasazi Sites. Kiva 59(3).

Colton, Harold S., and Lyndon L. Hargrave. (1937) Handbook of Northern Arizona Pottery Wares. Museum of Northern Arizona Bulletin 11, Flagstaff, Arizona.

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