The Archaeological Interpretation of Tree-Ring Specimins for Dating Southwestern Ceramic Styles

TitleThe Archaeological Interpretation of Tree-Ring Specimins for Dating Southwestern Ceramic Styles
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication1963
AuthorsBreternitz, DA
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy
Date Published1963
UniversityUniversity of Arizona
Keywordsanthropology, Archaeology, ceramic, dating, dendrochronology, indiginous, lasting phenomenon of traded ceramics, pottery, site, southwest, spanish entrada, specimen, style, trade, tree ring

The interpretation of approximately 5715 dated tree-ring specimens from about 342 archaeological sites in the American Southwest is the basis for “dating” the pottery types found in association. The time involved spans the period from the introduction of fired ceramics to the Spanish Entrada, approximately A.D. 1550.The provenience and site situation information for both the dated tree-ring specimens and the associated pottery is tabulated for each site and site-area which has tree-ring dates, except when these data are accessible in the literature.Criteria for establishing the validity of the association and provenience of the tree-ring specimens and the pottery are formulated. The interpretation and evaluation of the validity of these dates and associations is the basis for “dating” the various pottery types. The occurrence of pottery in “Indigenous” and “Trade” situation is presented separately; the pottery types in these categories are dated separately, in so far as possible, and then evaluated in terms of total distribution and context. Approximately 325 pottery types, varieties, and ceramic categories are dated on the basis of archaeological associations with tree-ring specimens. The data presented do not change the gross time placements of previous workers, but they do (1) refine some pottery dates, (2) reject others, and (3) give differing validity to additional ceramic dates.The concept of “pottery type” is used as the analytical unit for dating Southwestern ceramics. The concept of “Ceramic Style” represents synthesis at a higher level of abstraction and does not lend itself to dating based on tree-ring material.A progressive increase in the amount and range of traded pottery is noted through time. The increase in the distribution of various pottery types after about A.D. 1250 is also accompanied by an increase in attempts to make local copies of certain pottery types obtained by trade.Decorated pottery types which occur as trade products tend to persist in later archaeological contexts and this situation is discussed as the “Lasting Phenomenon of Traded Ceramics.”Southwestern pottery is distributed in prehistoric times on the basis of hand-to-hand or person-to-person contact and although the amount of trade and the spatial dispersal increase in time, particularly after 1250, this trade never reaches the same degree of institutionalization that is seen in Mesoamerica.  An associated feature is an emphasis on the trading of small, decorated vessels, as opposed to large, utility or undecorated, ceramic containers.