Peoples of the Mesa Verde Region

The Pueblo II Period: A.D. 900 to 1150



Artifacts dating from this period reflect the continued importance of farming in Pueblo culture. Two-hand manos and trough metates were used to grind corn, and pottery vessels of various types were used to store, cook, and serve food. And, because people still relied on wild animals for a portion of their diet, archaeologists also find stone projectile points that would have been affixed to the ends of wooden arrow shafts.

Pueblo II corrugated gray ware pottery. Pen-and-ink drawing by Lee R. Schmidlap, Jr.

Pueblo II corrugated gray ware pottery vessels.

Pottery styles continued to evolve during the Pueblo II period. Corrugated gray ware jars became the most common cooking and storage vessels. The coils used to form the jar were scraped smooth on the inside of the vessel, but were left exposed from top to bottom on the outside. To create the distinctive "corrugated" texture, Pueblo potters made slight indentations in the coils with a finger or thumb, sometimes leaving partial fingerprints that we can still see today. Through experimentation, archaeologists have demonstrated that corrugated pottery may be stronger and transfer heat more readily than pottery that is not corrugated. It also may be easier to grip.

Pueblo II white ware and red ware pottery. Pen-and-ink drawing by Lee R. Schmidlap, Jr.

Pueblo II white ware and red ware pottery vessels.

White ware pottery made during this time includes bowls, jars, ollas, dippers, and pitchers. Black designs were painted on a white background, and most vessels were polished and slipped. Common designs include parallel lines, dots, triangles, and diagonal hachure. Red ware pottery continued to be made in the western portion of the Mesa Verde region, and its occurrence at sites elsewhere in the region indicates relatively short distance trade.

One of the most exciting developments of the Pueblo II period, however, was the burst of trading activity with peoples outside the Mesa Verde region. The presence of Chaco-style pottery vessels, macaw-feather sashes, and copper bells at some sites indicates that the Pueblo people of the Mesa Verde region were part of a vast trading network that included not only Chaco Canyon but much more distant locations in Mexico as well. Other traded objects include beautiful jewelry and other ornaments made of shell, jet, and turquoise. In addition, decorated white and red ware pottery was widely traded throughout the Southwest during this time.