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      Welcome to Camp Internet's Explore the Ancient Southwest!

Exploring the Ancient Southwest


Early Pottery



The Mogollon peoples of the southwestern New Mexico area introduced pottery as early as 200 AD. The first pots were made from red and brown volcanic base clay, were not painted, but were textured with finger-pinched corrugated sides, or scraped smooth. By 300AD a pottery style called Mogollon Red-on-brown emerged and became very popular well into the 600s. In later years more complex figures and geometric patterns will come to adorn these pottery vessels and effigies.

The early, simple pottery forms revolutionized life in the Southwest. Now it was possible to boil foods and get more nutrition from them by breaking down their ingredients to a more digestible form. It was also possible to store foods - and next year's seeds - in a water tight container through the winter, and out of reach of little gnawing rodents. Water itself could be collected and carried easily in these pots, improving health and sanitation. And pottery also was used to create important ceremonial objects that strengthened the culture.

With pottery bowls, women could now cook right over an open fire. Previously, heating food was done by adding hot rocks to food in baskets, such as water and grains that then warmed into a mush. Being able to boil water meant beans could be cooked and lead to a major dietary improvement. Corn also, when boiled, provides twice the nutritional value.
In the Camp's Ancient Southwest collection are two examples of intact prehistoric pottery - a black on red bowl from the Williams Ranch site in Arizona, and a black on white pitcher from New Mexico.

In your science display kits are REAL ancient sherds from pottery - imagine where these came from. Ancient people gathered the clay, formed the vessel, painted it, fired it to make it durable, and then used it in their daily life for many years.