In 2019, Pueblo Grande Museum (PGM) will be observing our 90th anniversary as an institution. As part of our celebration, we’re featuring interesting research happening at PGM.
One of our largest research projects is the fifth volume of the Pueblo Grande Archival Project Series (Archival Series). The project began in 1989 with the goal of creating an archaeological report for the unpublished excavations conducted within the boundaries of Pueblo Grande Museum and Archaeological Park. These excavations began in 1929 and continued into the 1980s. Before the Archival Series, the results of more than 50 years of work had never been published or reported. To date, three volumes have been published.
The fifth volume of the Archival Series will focus on objects excavated from the site, and the documentation is being conducted by professional archaeologists who are volunteering their time. We’ve asked each archaeologist to select the most interesting object they’ve analyzed for a blog series leading into our 90th year as Pueblo Grande Museum!
Our third featured blog is by volume 5 researcher Mark L. Chenault, PhD. - Mark is a principal investigator with WestLand Resources, Inc.
To me the most interesting artifact I have analyzed from the collections at Pueblo Grande Museum is a Hohokam palette with remnants of a painted design on its border (Figure 1). The artifact measures 11.9 cm by 6.5 cm, and its border is separated from the basin by incised grooves. Although the palette was not discovered in a datable context, its morphology and characteristics place it in the Sacaton phase. Decorative elements on the palette’s border consist of remnants of triangles in white paint on the end borders and white bars on the side borders. Roughly rectangular shapes in brown paint are visible in the corners. What is believed to be a crust of iron oxide is located on the basin portion of the item.
Hohokam palettes with painted decoration are exceedingly rare. However, while conducting excavations at the site of Pozos de Sonoqui in the Queen Creek area, my colleagues and I found another palette with a painted border (Figure 2). The design on the raised border consists of a running pattern of incised triangles, with incised spirals on the corners of the border. The inner row of triangles is painted a reddish-orange color. The outer row of triangles is hatched with incised lines. This palette is also now in the collections at Pueblo Grande Museum.
Although rare, the existence of painted palettes has been known for some time. Emil Haury illustrated a palette from Snaketown with painted elements. The palette had an incised and painted border in alternating sections. The painted sections were blocked out in yellow with black outlines. That item—and one other painted palette—were the only such examples found at Snaketown; both palettes dated to the Sacaton phase. In addition, in a 1990-1991 study of palettes from throughout the region, Stephen Lekson identified two palettes with painted areas on their borders. As Haury stated, it is possible that the painting of palettes was a common practice, but that paint on stone was impermanent and was rarely preserved.
Figure 1. The painted palette from Pueblo Grande.
Figure 2. Palette with painted design from Pozos de Sonoqui.
Mark Chenault has a Ph.D. from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He has conducted archaeological research in the Mesa Verde region, Central America, and throughout Arizona. He is a senior principal investigator for WestLand Resources.