Mixed Media "The Late Survival of Río Grande Glaze Wares,” a lecture by James L. Moore
One of the unexpected findings from archaeological digs performed before construction of the Drury Plaza Hotel involves Río Grande Glaze Ware. This is a type of Pueblo pottery previously thought to have faded out at the time of the 1680-1692 Pueblo Revolt. “Glaze wares are a late-prehistoric and early-Historic Period type of ware produced by the Pueblos, mostly the Keres and pueblos in the Galisteo Basin, and they have designs made with a lead glaze,” said James L. Moore, project director of the Museum of New Mexico’s Office of Archaeological Studies (OAS). “The Revolt was probably part of the death knell for the type, but glaze wares do seem to have continued in production into the early 1700s, probably disappearing by the end of the second decade, at the very latest.”
Moore goes into detail about the findings from the 2008-2014 excavations in a free talk, “Into the Eighteenth Century: The Late Survival of Río Grande Glaze Wares.” Part of the OAS Brown Bag series, the talk is at noon Tuesday, March 21, at the Center for New Mexico Archaeology (7 Old Cochití Road; 505-476-4044).
A probable factor in the demise of Río Grande Glaze Ware was Native potters using refined lead from Spanish settlers: The potters may have lost, or forsaken, the technology that formerly depended on collecting lead ore — or the Spanish may have withheld the supply of refined lead. “I’m not a ceramicist, but I got interested in this because the Spanish Colonial deposits at the Drury site look like they date to the first couple decades of the 1700s,” Moore said. “They contain a sizable percentage of Río Grande Glaze Ware, as well as a lot of Tewa wares, and since we had fairly firm dates for the Mexican majolicas that were occurring in the same deposits, we could tell that these glaze wares post-dated the Pueblo Revolt.” His team also uncovered foundations of several Sisters of Charity buildings, including an 1853 seminary and an 1890 orphanage.
Moore is also director of the OAS lab for analyzing chipped-stone artifacts, such as Native American hide-scrapers and hammerstones and Spanish strike-a-light flints. A total of 7,479 artifacts dating from the 17th to early 20th centuries were unearthed at the Drury site. Among them were a chert biface (hand axe) and 80 other chipped-stone objects. Many chipped-stone tools were used by the Spanish as substitutes for metal tools, which were expensive and difficult to acquire until the establishment of the Santa Fe Trail in 1821. Moore’s database of chippedstone objects includes more than a quarter of a million artifacts dating back to the Folsom tradition in the Paleoindian Period, about 10,000 years ago.
Both vessels are examples of Río Grande Glaze Ware from San Lazaro Pueblo. The piece above is a late prehistoric San Lazaro Polychrome vessel; the other is a 17th-century Kotyiti Glaze-on-yellow jar; photos Eric Blinman, courtesy Forrest Fenn