Color in the Ancestral Pueblo Southwest

Color attracts attention, evokes emotions, conveys information, carries complex meanings, and makes things beautiful. Color is so meaningful, in fact, that research on the color choices of Ancestral Pueblo people has the potential to deepen our understanding of religious, social, and economic change in the ancient Southwest. This volume explores museum collections and more than a century of archaeological research to create the first systematic understanding of the many ways Ancestral Pueblo people chose specific colors through time and space to add meaning and visual appeal to their lives.
Beginning with the technical and practical concerns of acquiring pigments and using them to create paints, the authors explore how connections to landscapes and sacred places are embodied by many colorful materials. Contributors examine the development of polychromes and their juxtaposition with black-on-white vessels; document how color was used in rock paintings and architecture; and consider the inherent properties of materials, arguing that shell, minerals, and stone were valued not only for color but for other visual properties as well. The book concludes by considering the technological, economic, social, and ideological factors at play and demonstrates the significant role color played in aesthetic choices.

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Marit K. Munson is an anthropological archaeologist at Trent University in Ontario, Canada. She is author of The Archaeology of Art in the American Southwest and coeditor (with Susan Jamieson) of the awarding-winning book Before Ontario: The Archaeology of a Province.
Kelley Hays-Gilpin is professor of anthropology at Northern Arizona University and Edward Bridge Danson Curator of Anthropology at the Museum of Northern Arizona. Her books include Painting the Cosmos: Metaphor and Worldview in Images from the Southwest Pueblos and Mexico (with Polly Schaafsma) and Belief in the Past: Theoretical Approaches to the Archaeology of Religion (with D.S. Whitley).

Table of Contents:
Color Plates
Introduction: What Is Color? – Marit K. Munson
1.  Color in the Pueblo World – Marit K. Munson
2.  Pigments and Paints in the Archaeological Record – Marit K. Munson
3.  The Colors of Ancestral Pueblo Pottery – Kelley Hays-Gilpin and Jill E. Neitzel
4.  Painted Kivas, Painted Rooms – Polly Schaafsma
5.  Complexities of Color in Pueblo Rock Paintings, circa AD 1000–1600 – Polly Schaafsma
6.  The Sacred Colors and Materials of Ancestral Pueblo Jewelry – Jill E. Neitzel and David E. Witt
Conclusion: The Chromatic Past – Marit K. Munson and Kelley Hays-Gilpin  

Praise and Reviews:
“Archaeologists are often hesitant to go out on a limb to pursue certain lines of evidence. It takes guts to think outside the box, draw together multiple gossamers of evidence, and weave them into a convincing fabric. The volume in question could not have had better editors and authors for such a task. The discussions of colors’ multidimensionality, embodiment, animation, and nexus with history are fascinating, and I suspect that readers will adopt similar approaches with their own research.”
—Will G. Russell, historic preservation specialist, Arizona Department of Transportation

“This is a beautiful book, filled with stunning color illustrations and illuminating ideas that will open eyes and minds for archaeologists of all stripes…. Professionals will find [the book] thorough and well referenced. At the same time, it should also appeal to the educated, interested public because of its subject matter and because it is so clearly written and presented.”
American Antiquity

“This volume will encourage archaeologists to look at the importance of color in many aspects of research that have been heretofore ignored. It should lead to a better understanding of Ancestral Puebloan people in many aspects of their lives.”
American Archaeology