Prehistoric pottery in the northeastern Great Basin : problems in the classification and archaeological interpretation of undecorated Fremont and Shoshoni wares

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Title: Prehistoric pottery in the northeastern Great Basin : problems in the classification and archaeological interpretation of undecorated Fremont and Shoshoni wares
Author: Dean, Patricia Anne, 1945-
Abstract: The current interpretation of post-Archaic culture history in the northeastern Great Basin is that the Great Salt Lake regional variant of the Fremont culture arose from an Archaic base and is distinguished by two types of unpainted pottery, Great Salt Lake Gray and Promontory Gray. Seen as ethnically unrelated to the Fremont, the subsequent Shoshoni culture is marked by one type of unpainted pottery, Shoshoni Ware. These types are said to be characterized by distinct combinations of attributes, but close examination reveals that what these combinations are, and how they distinguish each type, has not been clearly described in the archeological literature. In this study, I re-analyze fragments of undecorated pottery previously classified as Great Salt Lake Gray, Promontory Gray, and Shoshoni Ware. Through rigorous and replicable methods, five major attributes found in every sherd are examined: wall thickness, exterior surface color, temper material, temper size, and technique of vessel shaping. This analysis showed that previous identifications of pottery attributes were partially or entirely erroneous. Every attribute measured demonstrated the same essential pattern: Great Salt Lake Gray had a wide range of variation, and Promontory Gray and Shoshoni Ware fell within this range. Further, except for one form of temper material, Promontory Gray and Shoshoni Ware shared the same attributes with one another. Ethnographic evidence is also presented that links late prehistoric pottery to that of the historic Shoshoni, confirming a single unbroken pottery tradition in the Great Salt Lake region. I conclude that the evidence of this study does not support the concept of two unrelated pottery traditions (Fremont and Shoshoni) in the Great Salt Lake region. Based on this work, much of the traditionally conceived post-Archaic culture history of this region must be reevaluated.
Description: xiii, 248 p. : ill. A print copy of this title is available through the UO Libraries under the call number: KNIGHT E98.P8 D43 1992
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1794/11793
Date: 1992-08


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