Andy Ward Pottery
traditional SW pottery

As I posted earlier in A Closer Look At Salado White Slip, Salado Polychrome was a novel idea when it was invented in the late 1200s. The white bentonite or montmorillonite slip is an extremely rare commodity in Southern Arizona so tracking down the source or sources should be doable. I am about to begin a serious search for the material now that the weather has cooled off and am looking for feedback from archaeologists and anyone with knowledge on the subject.

To start with here is what we are looking for, a white volcanic ash bed with lenses of montmorillonite clay, this one is near Benson, Arizona, not really in the Salado heartland but close.

Volcanic ash bed with clay lenses

Volcanic ash bed with montmorillonite clay lenses

I believe the source is likely to be found in the general area of a Kayenta enclave community where it was discovered by a Kayenta woman then subsequently traded far and wide by the Salado trade network. The research done on the Salado obsidian trade has proved that this trade network was vibrant and capable of distributing goods all across the Southern Southwest.

Please answer the following two questions by leaving a comment below, anyone with an opinion is encouraged to comment. Please share this post with your archaeologist friends, either professional or avocational, I would like some good input here.

  1. In what general area was Pinto Polychrome most likely “invented”.
  2. What sites are likely contenders for the birthplace of Pinto Polychrome?



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About Andy Ward

I am an independent researcher, writer and artist interested in all things Southwestern. Southeast Arizona is my home and area of primary interest.

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