Potsherds: An Introduction To the Study of Prehistoric Southwestern Ceramics and Their Uses in Historic Reconstruction

Author(s): Harold S. Colton

Year: 1953


The purpose of this little book is to outline in a concise form the methods used to make bits of broken pottery contribute to the history of the Southwest. In the interpretation of archaeological finds, pottery plays a most important role because of its wide distribution in time and space, its resistance to atmospheric weathering, and the number of culture traits that can be observed in pottery fragments. The manufacture of pottery is an old human activity. In the Old World pottery has been made since the beginning of the Neolithic Period, five thousand years ago. In the New World it is also old, in Central and South America we are not sure how old, but certainly over three thousand years, In our Southwest it has been manufactured for over fifteen hundred years. The study of pottery, therefore, can contribute to all the later history of the area.

A number of different sciences contribute to the study of prehistoric ceramics. Chemists and physicists explain the technological methods, ethnologists describe the uses, while archaeologists dig artifacts out of the ground and from them reconstruct the way of life of the makers.

In the manufacture of pottery the world over, certain basic principles are the same: A plastic clay mixed with water is moulded into some useful form, dried, and heated red hot in a fire. But the exact details of how a piece of pottery was made followed established practises and varied from time to time and from place to place, and these details preserved in the baked clay offer more characters for study than any other one product of primitive man's material culture; hence pottery's importance in archaeological studies.

Cite this Record

Potsherds: An Introduction To the Study of Prehistoric Southwestern Ceramics and Their Uses in Historic Reconstruction. Harold S. Colton. Museum of Northern Arizona Bulletin ,25. Flagstaff: Northern Arizona Society of Science and Art. 1953 ( tDAR id: 177870) ; doi:10.6067/XCV8Q241TB

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

Spatial Coverage

min long: -118.169; min lat: 30.524 ; max long: -100.942; max lat: 38.959 ;

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): Center for Digital Antiquity

Record Identifiers

NADB document id number(s): 2155409

NADB citation id number(s): 000000010285

File Information

  Name Size Creation Date Date Uploaded Access
Colton-53-Potsherds.pdf 3.66mb Nov 23, 2015 3:05:31 PM Confidential
Note: Copyrighted 1953, enters public domain in 2040

Accessing Restricted Files

At least one of the files for this resource is restricted from public view. For more information regarding access to these files, please reference the contact information below

Contact(s): Center for Digital Antiquity