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Lowland Patayan Pottery: A History, Crisis, and Manifesto
California Archaeology  (IF),  Pub Date : 2021-08-09, DOI: 10.1080/1947461x.2020.1834833


Archaeologists working in the far western Southwest distinguish the Lowland Patayan tradition by virtue of a distinctive, typically undecorated, light-colored pottery found along the lower Gila and lower Colorado rivers and in surrounding deserts. Known generally as “Lower Colorado Buff Ware,” research into Lowland Patayan pottery has a convoluted history, including the formulation of multiple typologies that are incompatible and whose chronologies contradict each other. This article discusses this history and critically evaluates the prevailing typology to expose some of its shortcomings. It also presents some data amassed over the past 40 years to show that the chronology girding it is inaccurate. To overcome this problem, I suggest that researchers of Lowland Patayan pottery temporarily set aside the ceramic type concept and consider the importance of attributes in relation to well-defined research questions, with particular attention directed at chronological refinement and material sourcing.