Pottery manufacture first came to the US Southwest about 400 AD, and rapidly became the principal artifact class at Southwestern archaeological sites. The raw materials, manufacturing process, and pottery designs for pottery types help to define and identify cultural affiliations. In the Tonto Basin, where Tonto National Monument is located, one defining type of locally-produced pottery is Salado Polychrome ( a subgroup of Roosevelt Redwares); “polychrome” refers to the multiple colors of decorations/designs on these pots. There are several different kinds of Salado Polychrome found in the Tonto Basin, distinguished by the colors and designs used. Undecorated pottery is also present, generally referred to as “plainware”. More information on Salado pottery is available on the SW Virtual Museum website, and the National Park Service website (also available in PDF format).
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Red and black designs on a white-slipped surface (slip = colored coating on top of the original clay surface)
Tonto Polychrome Jar (Tont_1275; on display at Tonto National Monument Visitor Center).
Tonto Polychrome bowl (WACC_256) (on display at Tonto NM Visitor Center).
Tonto Polychrome jar (Tont_933) (NPS Western Archaeological and Conservation Center (WACC))
Tonto Polychrome jar (Tont_936) (NPS WACC)
Tonto Polychrome jar (NPS WACC)
Tonto Polychrome jar (NPS WACC)
“Gila Polychrome was made between A.D. 1300 and the 1400s. Typically these wares had a similar color scheme to the Pinto polychromes, but had complex, asymmetrical designs. The designs were made with scalloped edges and a negative diamond “eye” on triangles, scrolls, keys, mazes, and hatches.” – NPS
Gila Polychrome bowl (Tont_928; on display at Tonto NM VC)
Gila Polychrome bowl (Tont_1277; on display at Tonto NM VC)
“Cliff Polychrome appears in the archaeological record around A.D. 1350, and is a variation of Gila Polychrome. Cliff vessels were typically bowls with dual interior black-on-white design fields separated by banding lines.” – NPS
Cliff Polychrome bowl (Tont_202; on display at Tonto NM VC)
Roosevelt Black on White bowl (WACC_479; on display at Tonto NM VC)
Basic Roosevelt Redware, unslipped, with white decorations.
Salado White on Red shell-shaped effigy vessel (WACC_276; on display at Tonto NM VC); notice how the designs mimic shell patterns. Despite their distance from the ocean, the inhabitants of the Tonto NM cliff dwellings were not unfamiliar with seashells – they were a common trade item brought up from the Gulf of California.
The only undecorated Roosevelt Redware.
Salado Red obliterated corrugated smudged bowl (Tont_204; on display at Tonto NM VC). “Corrugated” refers to the indentations on the outside surface of the bowl.
Salado Red obliterated corrugated jar (Tont_1623; on display at Tonto NM VC).
Salt Red jar (Tont_207; on display at Tonto NM VC)
Tonto Plain cooking jar (Tont_1092; on display at Tonto NM VC)
Other ceramic-related artifacts
“Clay was sometimes used to seal storage pots. Note the corn impressions on this pot stopper.” – NPS
“Puki or perforated plate sherds. Shallow plates like this, with a row of perforations around the rim, were part of a potter’s tool kit. It served as a base mold while the potter rotated it to shape a vessel.” – NPS