The Pottery from Arroyo Hondo Pueblo, New Mexico

Reviews of The Pottery from Arroyo Hondo Pueblo, New Mexico: Tribalization and Trade in the Northern Rio Grande

Book Notes

1994 Review of The Pottery from Arroyo Hondo Pueblo, New Mexico: Tribalization and  Trade in the Northern Rio Grande, by Judith Habicht-Mauche. Kiva 59(4): 481-482.

Using stylistic, mineralogical, and chemical analyses to examine pottery from the large 14th century pueblo of Arroyo Hondo, Habicht-Mauche is able to make inferences about topics ranging from regional trade and alliances to craft specialization to ethnic diversity. Part II is a final report on the site’s stone artifacts by Phagan.

Graves, Michael W.

2001 Analyzing and Interpreting Ceramic Production and Distribution in the American Southwest. Reviews in Anthropology 29(3): 253-272.

Habicht-Mauche’s is just one of a number of volumes that illustrate important methodological and theoretical issues that linger in the field of pottery analysis. She describes and draws inferences from pottery, specifically sherds rather than only reconstructible vessels, from Arroyo Hondo, a large pueblo in north central New Mexico occupied for a century. Analysis indicates that unpainted wares were circulating over smaller distances than painted wares, a result also suggested by similar research at other Southwestern pueblo sites. The author argues that later population growth at the pueblo was due to the abandonment of small outlying settlements and then aggregation at Arroyo Hondo.

The author uses both composition analysis and the correlate approach to find where pottery was produced. Specifically, she infers that the presence of turning plates at Arroyo Hondo means that pottery production took place there. The neglect of a consideration of style is understandable because it is not a functional characteristic, but the author would have done well to consider it since interaction between groups and cultural transmission were major themes of this work.

The author’s efforts to infer the scale of production and distribution are, on closer examination, insecure. Her main conclusions are also sometimes misleading. The author is unique for explicitly trying to integrate a theoretical perspective into her pottery analysis, but her selected model’s generality sacrificed the overall study’s realism and precision. The author, like many others, neglected to address the effect of site formation processes on the recovered ceramic assemblage. X-ray fluorescence was used, but no follow-up statistical tests, such as those confirming if different types were actually geochemically distinct, occurred. Her claim that production locales can be inferred from their geographical dominance is exactly what Shepard’s work called into question. There is also a failure to systematically analyze geochemical variation in similar source deposits or to show the reader the spatial scale of resource variability in the heterogeneous region surrounding Arroyo Hondo.

In sum, this is an ambitious volume that sought to develop a coherent narrative about the site and region’s history, but analytical shortcomings make its ultimate conclusions uncertain.

Kolb, C. C.

1994 Review of The Pottery from Arroyo Hondo Pueblo, New Mexico: Tribalization and Trade in the Northern Rio Grande, by Judith Habicht-Mauche. Choice March 1994: 394-395.

This collection of chapters on the pottery of Arroyo Hondo Pueblo is recommended for specialists on the American Southwest in advanced undergraduate through professional levels. Using only a portion of excavated pottery, Habicht-Mauche analyzed 87 thin sections via petrographic microscopy. Additionally, Olinger analyzed sherds with X-ray fluorescence, Lang completed a seriation, Thibodeau described miscellaneous ceramic artifacts, and Phagan analyzed over 8,000 lithic tools. In sum, the authors conclude that much decorated pottery was imported while utility or culinary ware was made at the site. Reports also shed light on craft specialization and ethnic diversity

Livres reçus

         1994 L’Homme 34(130): 232-234.

The Pottery from Arroyo Hondo Pueblo, New Mexico

1996 Review of The Pottery from Arroyo Hondo Pueblo, New Mexico: Tribalization and Trade in the Northern Rio Grande, by Judith Habicht-Mauche. Ceramica 55: 78.

This book about the ceramic splendor of Arroyo Hondo’s culture contains sections about workmanship, trade, tribalism, and other archaeological remains. It provides abundant technical information about processes, materials, and techniques pertaining to pottery and focuses on ceramics from the 14th century. Much of the pottery possesses rich designs loaded with symbolism of the Pueblo culture. Thanks to the intensive research of American archaeologists, more is now known about the ceramics of Arroyo Hondo.

Publications: New Archaeological Books and Journals

         1994 Journal of Field Archaeology 21(2): 236.

This 8th volume in SAR’s Arroyo Hondo series includes ceramic data that suggests a new model for culture change based on both centralized production and trade. There is also a report on Arroyo Hondo’s lithic artifacts.