The 2019 Southwest Kiln Conference will be taking place during the weekend of October 4, 2019 - October 6, 2019 in Globe, Arizona, and everyone is invited. The organizers stress that "...attendance is free and open to the public so come up to Globe and learn about the exciting things being done in the fields of prehistoric pottery replication and experimental archaeology."
"Living in Sacred Continuum" is an assemblage of Mimbres pottery dating from 1000 CE to 1130 CE, and is now on display at the American Indian Student Center on the New Mexico State University campus in Las Cruces. The exhibit features interpretations of the pottery’s designs by five different Hopi artists with five different points of view. [Photo of the Hopi artists at work - by Atsunori Ito via NMSU. Dr. Arakawa is shown in center background.]
h/t to the GCAS's own Chris Overlock for hipping us to today's news in the Chicago Tribune.
The Art Institute of Chicago has indefinitely postponed the exhibition they had planned for May, 2019, of a private individual's collection of some 70 pieces of Mimbres pottery. The article indicates the Art Institute came to realize that grave goods comprise the majority of this private collection. Such items are inappropriate for public display.
“It’s not art,” said Patty Loew, director of Northwestern University’s Center for Native American and Indigenous Research, who...has followed the controversy within the community of Native American scholars. “If someone dug up your great-grandmother’s grave and pulled out a wedding ring or something that had been buried with her, would you feel comfortable having that item on display?”
Periodically this here blog addresses the issue of potsherds. We've addressed several reasons why today's avocational archaeologist should leave them where they are.
We in the GCAS realize that in past decades it was considered acceptable to gather potsherds by the hatful and bucketful. Many people made a hobby out of collecting as many potsherds as they could carry. Unfortunately the novelty soon wore off so these collections tended to languish, forgotten, in a box somewhere. In our group's experience the collector's heirs eventually come across the sherds when clearing out their deceased family member's belongings. At that point, some sherd collections are no doubt thrown away in a landfill. Or dumped under a convenient tree. Or, sometimes, the heirs find the GCAS and donate them to us.
From the GCAS Library/Archives:
No photos of this particular bowl are known to exist, but the following description may be accurate enough that someone may recognize it if they have seen it. This bowl was reportedly unearthed on private ranch land located east of Silver City, New Mexico, at some time during the late 1970s through the 1980s.
It was described as "...a beautiful Mimbres Classic bowl...[depicting] a Mimbres warrior standing up with a shield on one arm and a three-pronged spear-headed staff in the other..."
The individual who excavated this bowl was not related to the landowners and it appears he did not have the landowners' permission to remove this artifact. However, it does not appear that the landowners made any report of theft to any law enforcement authorities. Nevertheless it was assumed at the time that the individual who took this bowl eventually sold it to either an intermediary or directly to a private collector.
If anyone encounters a bowl matching this description, either on display or in a photograph, you are welcome to contact the GCAS via this website so at the very least we may be able to alert the individual currently in possession of it.
For years, individual archaeologists have proposed that the blue-green color of turquoise was represented by the fine lines (aka hachure) in certain styles of Mimbres bowls, presumably as an appeal for water. Later archaeological study suggested that "...Mimbres hachure was likely representative of color but not necessarily blue-green. In fact, it may have referenced yellow. Yellow and blue are often paired among the Pueblos, and [there may have been] interregional differences in the meaning...."
Stephanie Whittlesey carried these findings further.
Are you interested in learning about Salado culture ceramics?
Are you in Tucson or are willing to travel there regularly?
Is your answer to each of these questions an enthusiastic "Yes!"?
If so, boy howdy does Archaeology Southwest have a wonderful opportunity for you!
From the GCAS Library/Archives:
At some time between 9:00 AM on February 2, 1998, and 11:00 AM on February 12, 1998, the three Mimbres ceramic bowls shown below were stolen from the Silver City, New Mexico, home of Juanita Frank:
The theft was promptly reported to the Grant County Sheriff's Department, explaining that the artifacts had originally been found on Ms. Frank's family's ranch located east of Silver City. A newspaper report by the Silver City Daily Press dated March 11, 1998, published black-and-white photographs of all three bowls with the somewhat ambiguous description, "...They include a black-and-white bowl that is about 18 inches wide and 8 inches deep; a vessel that is 12 inches wide and 8 inches deep; and a smaller one. The unpainted portion of [one] bowl has been completed since the photograph was taken...."
Humans, like crows, are acquisitive by nature. We are attracted to pretty things and are especially intrigued when it's clear to us that other, ancient humans made the pretty things we find -- like the fascinating forms, lines, colors, and textures of potsherds.
In past decades, collecting potsherds - and even far more substantial artifacts - was considered a harmless pastime perhaps similar to collecting postage stamps. Archaeologists have spent more than a century analyzing hundreds of ceramic styles in the US Southwest and the locations where they have been found; so it would be easy to assume that a few potsherds more or less would make little scientific difference.
So, over there on the right is a pair of sherds Dr. Barbara Roth and her UNLV crew recently recovered from the Elk Ridge archeological site in the Mimbres River Valley in southwestern New Mexico. To date no other fragment of the original ceramic has been found. We already posted this on our Facebook page so the person who reads our website should already be hip to this.
Serious now: The design appears unique. Neither professional archaeologist nor local avocational fan of ceramics has seen anything like it. Have any of you? If so, please - seriously, PLEASE - leave a comment and let us in the GCAS know when & where you have seen such images. We'd like to compare-and-contrast the images on these 2 ceramics fragments with wherever else the same or similar image has been found. Spill all the 411 you have. Photos appreciated. Because the more we all know, the more we all....know.
Everyone is also welcome to leave a comment as to your interpretation of what the heck is represented by these images. So far, we have serious folks saying it represents baskets with some kind of crop in them; maybe some kind of planting pattern for seedlings; but then, they notice that every other "basket" contains stalks with TWO top fronds instead of just ONE. Could it be, corn in two different stages of development? Two different kinds of the same crop?
Complicating the speculation is the presence of those dotted lines AND the overlaying solid line. It appears the frond-and-basket images are not anywhere inside the solid line. Plus, once inside the solid line, the dotted line continues, but TWO other concentric dotted lines appear INSIDE the solid line. Could the solid line or any one (or more) of the dotted lines be a trail? Crop demarcations? How far the irrigation went? Where my kid was playing (h/t Bil Keane)? Boundaries between "yours" and "mine" and "theirs"?
Or is the suggestion of agriculture just some kind of metaphor? Are we all just a few corn stalks in so many baskets, left unattended in a vast cosmic field?
On the other hand, some folks turn the image upside-down and see jellyfish. Lots and lots of jellyfish.