Thursday, 2 May 2013

Post 91 Pueblo Pots

The other theme of the Colarado Plateau trip was the pottery of the Ancient Pueblo Peoples.

Plant domestication seems to be the defining trigger for societal advancement of earlier civilisations and cultures. It started with the domestication of cereal grains in the cradle of civilisation 10000 years ago. When people don't have to hunt and gather their food every day all day, they have time to think about solving other problems in their lives.

In the USA this transition didn't happen until the arrival of corn from South America around 2000 years ago and then peolpe started to stay in the one place, and build permanent structures. When you have to move a lot containers need to be light and robust so baskets are the containers of choice. When there is more food, less relocation, permanent housing and time people started to make pots.
It's interesting that in Australia indigenous past  plant domestication did not happen (no useful candidates perhaps) and so the shift from hunter gatherer to fixed farming population centres, did not occur.

So in the US from around the 5th century pottery proliferated and with that came decoration. Around 1250 there was something of a cultural collapse and the population centres were abandoned, leaving behind a rich trove of pottery. The surviving descendent cultures have maintained the tradition of pot making, now for the art and tourist market.

These are old pots as in the next shot - lots of very functional pots and utensils, including a big line of mugs!
The Mediteranean cultures were producing highly sophisticated pottery and design 1000 years before these pots were made but that again reflects more on the food domestication question than anything. The form and designs of the Pueblo pots are attractive and have an elegance in their simplicity.

More old pots - who can guess the purpose of the double mug?

And then over time as the anglos moved west the 18th century saw design changes with more figurative elements included and more colour eventually to suit the tourists of the 19th century.

Right up to the present day.

Much of the original making tradition is preserved. The pots are coiled up without a wheel, a bit of anvil and paddle work, smoothed and scraped until very thin, decorated green and then pit fired using animal dung and plant matter, so quite lightly fired and not designed to hold water.

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