Whiteriver Polychrome

Whiteriver Polychrome is a type of Roosevelt Red Ware with a distribution reaching as far west as Bloody Basin, east to Safford, and from Chevelon Ruin on the north to Reeve Ruin on the south.  This type is most abundant in the northeastern portion of its geographical range.

Archaeological Culture: Salado

Date Range: A.D. 1360-1450.

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: Exterior is red where not painted (black over white); interior is red.

Forms: Incurved and hemispherical bowls only.


  • Paint: Black over white and/or red.
  • Pigments: Black: carbon, red: hematite, white: kaolin.
  • Design: Exterior: decoration like Gila or Tonto Polychrome jars; interior slipped red and unpainted.

Comparisons: Whiteriver Polychrome is distinguished from Gila and Tonto polychromes by the lack of painted interior designs and by vessel form.

Compiled from the following sources:
Lyons, Patrick D. (2013) Placing the Tonto Cliff Dwellings in the Larger Context of the Tonto Basin and the Southern US Southwest. Final Report of WNPA Research Project 06-09: Investigating Ancient Dynamics by Studying Salado Ceramics and Obsidian. On file at Tonto National Monument.

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.

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