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Exploring the Ancient Southwest
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.
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
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.