Peoples of the Mesa Verde Region

The Pueblo I Period: A.D. 750 to 900



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

Pueblo I neckbanded gray ware pottery vessels.

The Pueblo I period saw a great increase in the variety of pottery used in the Mesa Verde region. Gray ware jars, used for storage and cooking, were still the most common vessels, but a new type of gray ware jar was produced during this time. Called "neckbanded gray," these jars had very distinctive bands on the outside of their necks, where the clay coils used to build the vessels were not scraped smooth.

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

Pueblo I white ware pottery vessels.

White ware vessels, primarily bowls used for serving food, became more sophisticated in their decorations during the Pueblo I period. Especially later in the period, Pueblo potters used smooth pebbles to lightly polish the surfaces of the vessels, and they sometimes applied a thin coating of watery clay (called "slip") to produce a fine, white background. Black-painted designs, applied with a yucca brush, were simple and included parallel lines with attached triangles, triangles with hooks, and tick marks.

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

Pueblo I red ware pottery vessels.

A new pottery ware is seen for the first time at sites dating from the Pueblo I period. Called "red ware" because of its distinctive orange to red color when fired, vessels of this sort are believed to have been made in the far western reaches of the Mesa Verde region, in what today is southeastern Utah. Its occurrence at sites in the central part of the region, in present-day southwestern Colorado, suggests that it was a local trade item. Red ware vessels were polished and painted, and they were probably highly prized.

Of course, artifacts used in farming and hunting are common at Pueblo I sites. Two-hand manos and trough metates are found in abundance, and stone artifacts believed to be hoes have been discovered as well. The bow and arrow continued to be used to hunt wild game, and a particular style of projectile point is recognized by archaeologists as being characteristic of this time period.