ClayHound Web - Salado Pottery

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Tonto National Monument, Arizona


    Excellent information from the Logan Museum of Anthropology on line from Beloit, Wisconsin

All text and images are used courtesy of the Logan Museum of Anthropology, Beloit College
All objects illustrated are in the permanent collection of the Logan Museum.


The Salado are believed to have been a group of wayfaring Anasazi who experienced moderate Mogollon influence and migrated into the Tonto Basin/Roosevelt Lake/Globe, Arizona region.

Inhabiting the Tonto Basin in central Arizona for the relatively short period between A.D. 1150 and around A.D. 1450, the Salado culture was named for the Salt River (Rio Salado in Spanish) that was central to their way of life. Considered a minor culture by archeologists, the Salado culture's origins are still being debated.

The first wave of Anasazi influence was accompanied by the adaptation of certain northern black-on-white pottery types, such as Tularosa Black-on-White. The new type, Roosevelt Black-on- White, has all of the decorative elements of the Tularosa style, but differs in physical characteristics. The second wave saw the dissemination of polychrome pottery types such as Wingate and St. Johns. These evolved locally into Gila, Tonto and Pinto polychromes. These latter pottery types fall into the category of Roosevelt Red Ware.

Roosevelt Red Ware

Roosevelt Red Ware comprises a number of types produced in the middle Gila River area, between Phoenix and the New Mexico border. Of particular interest are the Salado polychromes, which were widely traded and are easy to recognize. Rather than black and white paints applied to a red-slipped base, as in other Anasazi polychromes, Salado polychromes have black paint applied to a white-slipped zone (either the interior of a bowl or a portion of the exterior) with no painting in the red-slipped zones. 

Material: The clay is sometimes tempered with mica flakes, giving the surface of vessels a glittery aspect.
Construction: Coiling-and-scraping
Firing: Oxidizing atmosphere
Forms: Flaring rims on both bowls and jars present, and some vessels have a "Gila shoulder", an angled portion of the vessel's curvature  which usually lies well below the center. Bowls and jars tend to be rather large.

Pinto Polychrome 1250 - 1400
Polychrome Phase

Pinto Polychrome probably developed slightly earlier than Gila Polychrome. The decoration seems to be related to Cibola Black-on-White types.

Gila Polychrome 1300 - 1600
Polychrome Phase

Gila Polychrome probably developed concurrently with another Pinto Polychrome. The decoration seems to be related to White Mountain Red Ware types, particularly Four Mile Polychrome.

Tonto Polychrome 1350 - 1600
Polychrome Phase

Tonto Polychrome probably developed out of earlier Pinto and Gila Polychromes. Red and white slips are applied to the exteriors of bowls, but unlike Gila Polychrome, the interiors are undecorated but sometimes smudged.