Tizon Brown Ware


PERIOD: Prehistory through the early historic period (reservation era) of Arizona.

DATES: Approximately A. D. 700 to 1890. The early date is based upon associations with Lino Black-on-gray at Willow Beach on the Colorado River (Schroeder 1952). However, if this ware is the creation of Pai groups in Arizona, then A. D. 1100-1500 would be the beginning date range.


Construction: Coiling.

Thinning: Scraping or paddle-and-anvil.

Finishing: Smoothed due to scraping. Sometimes irregularly surfaced on the interior of large sherds and whole vessels due to anvil marks.

Firing: Poorly controlled oxidizing atmosphere. Some examples illustrate the use of a reducing atmosphere, as well.

Temper: Coarse to medium-fine textured, poorly sorted, sub-angular opaque quartz, feldspar, and ocassional mica inclusions (see Temper pictures 1, 2, 3, and 4). The types Cerbat, Sandy, and Aquarius differ in terms of temper and color. Cerbat and Aquarius differ from Sandy in that Sandy is tan in color and has less abundant and finer temper. Cerbat differs from Aquarius in that Aquarius can have a coarser temper.

Core Color: Black, gray, brown, or red (Cerbat and Aquarius). Tan to warm gray (Sandy).

Clay: Possibly redeposited decomposed granitic rock (Gilpin and Phillips 1998).

Core Texture: Fine to medium with a uniform, silty paste.

Fracture: Crumbling.

Surface Appearance: Typically a plain ware with no evidence of polishing, slipping, or smudging. One type, Tizon Wiped, is finished with irregular wiping. Three types, Cerbat Red-on-brown, Cerbat Black-on-brown, and Aquarius Black-on-brown, are painted. Another type, Orme Ranch Plain is finished with obliterated, vertical corrugations (Breternitz 1960).

Surface Color: Light tan (Sandy) to brown and reddish-brown (Cerbat and Aquarius), except in reduced firing atmospheres, which result in colors ranging from gray to black.

Firing Clouds: Rare (Sandy) to frequent (Cerbat and Aquarius).

Thickness: 4.0 to 20.0 mm, averaging 6.0 mm (Cerbat); 5.0 to 13.0 mm, averaging 7.7 mm (Sandy); 4.0 to 7.9 mm, averaging 5.8 mm (Aquarius).

Weathering and Use Wear Pattern: Exfoliation of the surface due to use is common.

Vessel Forms: Shallow and medium-deep bowls; wide-mouthed, straight necked, sloping sided jars; wide-mouthed, recurved, deep jars; and wide-mouthed, flared, globular jars.

Rims: Either rounded or flat. Usually straight or slightly inverted or everted.

Decoration and Paint Type: Decoration of any kind is rare. However, paint, when used, is either red or black (i.e., Cerbat Red-on-brown and Cerbat Black-on-brown and Aquarius Black-on-brown) and is used to form simple narrow lines (Aquarius Black-on-brown and Cerbat Black-on-brown) and poorly executed broad lines and large dots (Cerbat Red-on-brown).

RANGE: Extends from the Colorado River to the north and west and to the Gila River to the south. Easternmost range includes the Mogollon Rim, White Mountains, and Tonto National Forest. A more westerly enclave of this ware also occurs in southern California in Digueno territory (Harner 1957).

COMPARISON: Closely resembles the paste and temper used in both San Francisco Mountain Gray Ware and the Wingfield Plain variant of Prescott Gray Ware. However, SFMGW contains substantially more amounts of mica and Wingfield Plain contains a type of schist, phyllite, that is not present in Tizon Brown Ware. Also closely resembles Lower Colorado Buff Ware (Schroeder 1952). Plain wares of the Paiute (Southern Paiute Brown Ware) and Apache (Quemado Gray Ware) also closely resemble this ware in terms of paste, temper, surface treatment, and color (Baugh and Eddy 1987).

CULTURAL ASSOCIATION: Most often associated with the Yuman groups of Arizona, especially the Hualapai, Havasupai, and Yavapai. Euler and Dobyns (1985) suggest the Havasupai made Tizon Wiped and that the Yavapai may have made Cerbat and/or Aquarius Brown. Breternitz (1960) proposed that the Yavapai also made Orme Ranch Plain. Schroeder (1959) also links the Yavapai with the production of Wingfield Plain.

REMARKS: Unless otherwise noted, the information provided in this page has been adapted from Euler and Dobyns (1958).


Cerbat Brown

Cerbat Red-on-brown

Cerbat Black-on-brown

Sandy Brown

Aquarius Brown

Aquarius Black-on-brown

Tizon Wiped

Orme Ranch Plain


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