Ninemile Polychrome

Ninemile Polychrome is a type of Roosevelt Red Ware found primarily from Cliff Valley to Perry Mesa, and from the middle Verde valley to Douglas, Arizona.  This type is rare in the San Pedro valley, Tucson Basin, and Tonto Basin, and is more common in the far southeastern portion of its geographical range.

Archaeological Culture: Salado

Date Range: A.D. 1375-1450

Construction: By coiling.

Firing: In an oxidizing atmosphere.

Core Color: Brick-red, tan, gray to black.

Temper: Moderately abundant fine water-worn sand.

Surface Finish: Slipped and polished.

Surface Color: Red exteriors and interiors where not painted.

Forms: Recurved bowls; occasionally semi-flaring incurved or semi-flaring hemispherical bowls.


  • Paint: Black over white and/or red.
  • Pigments: Black: carbon, red: hematite, white: kaolin.
  • Design: Interior: banded design field at the rim; slipped red below design; exteriors usually painted with Gila or Tonto designs, sometimes undecorated, sometimes decorated with only a thin band similar to the interior.

Comparisons: Similar to Cliff Polychrome in that both occur only as recurved bowls and have a banded design field on the interior surface at the rim. Nine Mile Polychrome differs in that the interior surface below the rim design is slipped red and undecorated.

Other Names: Ninemile Polychrome: Gila Variety, Ninemile Polychrome: Tonto Variety, Nine Mile Polychrome.

Compiled from the following sources:
Lyons, Patrick D., and Jeffery J. Clark. (2012) A Community of Practice in Diaspora: The Rise and Demise of Roosevelt Red Ware. In Potters and Communities of Practice: Glaze Paint and Polychrome Pottery in the American Southwest, A.D. 1250-1700, edited by L.S. Cordell and J.A. Habitcht-Mauche, pp. 19-33. Anthropological Papers No 75. University of Arizona, Tucson.

Neuzil, Anna A., and Patrick D. Lyons. (2005) An Analysis of Whole Vessels from the Mills Collection Curated at Eastern Arizona College, Thatcher, Arizona. Technical Report No. 2005-001. Center for Desert Archaeology, Tucson.

Compiled by:
Meghann M. Vance, Northern Arizona University Anthropology Laboratories.