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Residential Mobility and Ceramic Exchange: Ethnography and Archaeological Implications

Author(s): Margaret E. Beck


Source: Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory, Vol. 16, No. 4 (Dec. 2009), pp. 320-
356
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: https://www.jstor.org/stable/25653122
Accessed: 02-03-2020 19:23 UTC

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J Archaeol Method Theory (2009) 16:320-356
DOI 10.1007/s 10816-009-9073-0

Residential Mobility and Ceramic Exchange:


Ethnography and Archaeological Implications

Margaret ?. Beck

Published online: 15 September 2009


? Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2009

Abstract After the appearance of agriculture and subsequent increasing population


densities and agricultural intensification, some mobile hunters, foragers, and part
time horticulturalists often obtained ceramic vessels from nearby villages. Mobile
groups are firmly embedded within regional patterns of interaction and exchange.
Certain regional interaction patterns encourage use of vessels made by a sedentary
neighbor, and the factors that would discourage it are less significant than previously
believed. The vessels made by neighboring agriculturalists may often be as well
suited to the tasks and settlement pattern of mobile groups as vessels made by the
mobile groups themselves. Given the probable frequency with which mobile groups
discarded ceramics made by a neighboring group, archaeologists should consider this
scenario when interpreting ceramic frequencies in remote small sites, where some
ceramics may be far from the villages in which they were apparently made. Using an
archaeological case study from the Western Papagueria of the US Southwest, I propose
using vessel techno-function, along with other data, to place individual sites within a
broader settlement system. The settlement system, rather than diagnostic ceramic
types, may be most useful for assigning these sites to particular cultural traditions and
for understanding patterns of landscape use.

Keywords Ceramics Mobility Exchange US Southwest Hohokam Patayan

Pottery use by residentially mobile groups has long been a popular research topic,
particularly for those who study the initial adoption and early use of ceramics (e.g.,
Barnett and Hoopes 1985; Heidke 1999; Reid 1984a, b, 1989, 1990; Rice 1999;

M. E. Beck (?3)
Department of Anthropology, University of Iowa, 114 Macbride Hall, Iowa City,
IA 52242-1322, USA
e-mail: margaret-beck@uiowa.edu

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Residential Mobility and Ceramic Exchange 321

Sassaman 1993; Skibo and Blinman 1999) or those who work in regions occupied
primarily or exclusively by foragers (e.g., Barnard 2008; Eerkens 2001, 2003, 2004;
Eerkens et al. 2002; Frink and Harry 2008; Harry et al. 2009; Mack 1990; Simms
et al. 1997). Both groups of researchers emphasize ceramic manufacture by foragers
or incipient horticulturalists. Such manufacture is limited but not uncommon; 13% of
the 862 societies in Murdock's (1967) Ethnographic Atlas are pottery-making
societies that were not fully sedentary (Arnold 1985, pp. 119-120).
Unlike the works cited above, this paper does not review the origins of pottery,
nor does it focus exclusively on the vessels made by mobile groups. It instead
addresses another part of the ceramic assemblage: vessels acquired from more
sedentary neighbors. Residential mobility tends to limit ceramic manufacture
because appropriate raw materials, good weather, and sufficient time in one place
to complete manufacture are less likely to be available all at once (Arnold 1985,
p. 119). Although mobile groups often made pots around these constraints (Eerkens
2008; Simms et al. 1997), one solution is to obtain some or all of the vessel
assemblage from others. After the appearance of agriculture and subsequent
increasing population densities and agricultural intensification, some mobile groups
were no longer "hunters living in a world of hunters" (Denbow 1984, p. 188) but
instead lived near sedentary, ceramic-producing populations (Headland and Reid
1989; Upham 1994). In these settings, ceramic vessels were easily obtained, and
people and information as well as objects moved frequently between interdependent
groups. It is therefore not surprising that mobile populations often integrated ceramic
vessels into their settlement and subsistence patterns, whether they manufactured
them or not.
The use of ceramics obtained from a sedentary neighbor has not received the
same systematic, cross-cultural attention as the development of a mobile group's
own ceramic tradition, but it is of equal importance when interpreting the
archaeological record. A mobile group's use and discard of pottery made by another
group may frequently account for some ceramics in remote small sites, far from the
villages in which they were apparently made. When mobile groups combine vessels
they manufactured with vessels manufactured by another group, the result should be
a mix of ceramic wares on the surface of short-term occupation sites and scattered
village pottery in areas apparently within a foraging group's territory. Such mixed
ceramic assemblages are often seen in parts of western North America, including
southwestern Arizona (Bayman 2007; Beck 2008) and the Las Vegas Valley (Lyneis
2000). I argue here, using ethnographic data and an archaeological case study, that
certain regional interaction patterns encourage use of vessels made by a sedentary
neighbor, and the factors that would discourage it are less of an impediment than
previously thought. We may be able to better identify and interpret sites made by
residentially mobile groups if we focus more on vessel function and less on ceramic
typologies in our analyses. "Function" here refers primarily to techo-tunction or
utilitarian function, although socio-function (the communication of social relation
ships) and ideo-function (the communication of values and ideas) play acknowledged
roles as well (see Rathje and Schiffer 1982, pp. 65-67; Schiffer 1992, pp. 9-12). This
paper is about the acquisition of whole vessels rather than sherds from another
group, although sherds are useful as tools and may also change hands between
groups (Sullivan et al. 1991).

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322 Beck

The ethnographic data used throughout this paper (Table I) were compiled in
several steps. First, I reviewed the 108 ceramic-producing, nonsedentary societies
listed in Murdock (1967, Tables B and D), looking for groups with data on both
ceramic manufacture or use and external trade and exchange. This provided ten
cases (Chaamba, Teda, Ingalik, Yavapai, Kutenai, Chiricahua Apache, Western
Apache, Navajo, Seri, and Siriono). To flesh out the discussion of ceramic
manufacture and use by mobile groups, I then added additional groups mentioned
in studies of hunter-gatherer pottery (Bollong et al 1997; Frink and Harry 2008;
Harry et al 2009; Reid 1989, 1990; Sampson 1988) and residentially mobile,
ceramic-using groups studied recently by ethnoarchaeologists (Graham 1994; Saidel
2008). This provided several additional cases (North Alaskan Eskimo, Koyukon,
Sarcee, Northern Ute, Raramuri or Tarahumara, Bedouin, and Bushmen). A review
of literature on forager-food producer relationships (e.g., Bailey 1988; Bailey and
Peacock 1988; Denbow 1984; Ford 1972; Headland and Reid 1989, 1991; Leacock
and Lee 1982; Spielmann 1986, 1991a) led to additional cases (Southern Great
Plains, Bambuti). Finally I included a group in the same region as my archaeological
case study (Hia C-ed O'odham). Ceramic production and use by groups in the Great
Basin, both prehistorically and during the European contact period, is well covered
in recent literature (Eerkens 2001, 2003, 2004, 2008; Eerkens et al 2002; Simms
et al 1997) and is therefore not a focus here, although the results of this Great Basin
research are incorporated.
My literature review is used to make three main points. First, I describe vessel use
and transport by mobile groups in general, including groups that manufacture
ceramics as well as those that do not. I conclude that although vessels can be
designed to fit within a residentially mobile lifeway, they need not be. Previous
authors have described specialized design features in the pots of mobile groups
(Bollong etal 1997; Habicht-Mauche 1991; Reid 1984a, b, 1989, 1990), but under
many circumstances, pots made in agricultural villages that lack these features could
easily be used as well. Mobile groups generally use ceramic vessels to improve food
processing and storage, as do sedentary groups; almost never do they use them for
special, mobility-related tasks that villagers do not face. Vessels made by
neighboring agriculturalists may frequently have served mobile groups as well as
vessels of their own design would have, if they could resolve the transport problems.
Multiple strategies were used for overcoming constraints on vessel transport,
indicating that residential mobility is not a significant impediment to occasional
ceramic use and that vessels need not be especially designed for easier transport.
Second, I describe the kinds of social environments that encourage mobile groups
to use ceramic vessels, including vessels obtained from their neighbors. I address
cooperative interactions between mobile groups and their sedentary neighbors,
presenting generalizations from broad ethnographic data and then illustrating a range
of interaction types with two case studies. My data are concentrated in the Americas
and Africa, in areas where mobile groups still co-existed with farmers or pastoralists
at the time of European exploration. They are also concentrated in the period after
European contact, when interdependent relationships were witnessed and docu
mented. These interdependent relationships, with frequent exchange of people,
goods, and ideas, strongly suggest that ceramic exchange was a regular occurrence.
Some supporting archaeological data are available particularly from the period

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Residential Mobility and Ceramic Exchange 323

immediately preceding contact, when archaeologists are more willing to use


ethnographic or historical observations to interpret the relatively recent past.
Third, I consider the overall composition of the ceramic assemblage of those
mobile groups listed in Table I, noting that even groups that manufactured vessels
often had some exchanged vessels. This exchange is hardly surprising, given the
frequency of ceramic exchange through the world archaeological and ethnographic
record, but it poses unique problems when interpreting the archaeological sites of
mobile groups, particularly small surface sites. Because mobile groups made fewer
vessels, if any, some or all of the ceramics they discarded might have been obtained
through exchange. Our current tendency to assign cultural affiliation based primarily
on diagnostic ceramics risks misattributing portions of the toolkit or even entire sites
and rendering some activities by mobile groups archaeologically invisible. We may
even mistakenly assume that prehistoric mobile groups without their own ceramic
traditions were never ceramic users, although opportunities to get vessels elsewhere
might have encouraged at least occasional ceramic vessel use among groups that did
not make pottery.
I conclude with an archaeological case study from the US Southwest, attempting
to demonstrate how these insights from ethnography could be applied to
archaeological analysis. Researchers working in the Western Papagueria of
southwestern Arizona and northwestern Sonora, for example, frequently encounter
mixed ceramic assemblages on small surface sites in the interior desert. In this
region, cultural affiliation is often tentatively assigned to site residents based on the
dominant ceramic tradition. It is admittedly difficult to distinguish sites created by
people on a logistical trip away from a sedentary village from those created by more
residentially mobile groups, particularly if?as suggested throughout this paper?
village communities provided at least some of the diagnostic material culture to the
mobile groups. I propose a different analytical approach using vessel techno-function,
along with other data, to place individual sites within a broader settlement system.
Although often only ceramic ware and type are collected or reported in the Western
Papagueria, as a result of the existing emphasis on cultural affiliation, we also need
regional data on vessel form and size to test the models presented here. The limited
available data on vessel form and size are used to illustrate the potential of a techno
functional emphasis and to argue for changes in data collection practices as a result.
The anthropological data on which my conclusions are based are far from ideal, often
coming from the frustratingly vague descriptions of ethnographers and historians who
were not especially interested in ceramic vessels. Not all of the cases in Table I can be
directly compared or used in the same way, because the available information varies
significantly. Detailed descriptions of ceramic exchange, or even of the ceramics
themselves, are largely missing from these cases and from the ethnographic record as
a whole (an absence that will not surprise ceramic analysts and ethnoarchaeologists).
For future research, a detailed study of vessel exchange between foragers, farmers, and
pastoralists would make an excellent ethnoarchaeological project.
Mobility is of course a continuum, incorporating a wide variety of land use
strategies (Kelly 1995), and even "sedentary" groups still engage in residential as
well as logistical mobility (Darling et al 2004; Herr and Clark 2002). There is no
assumption here that a relatively sedentary lifestyle, with villages occupied at least
seasonally, is always linked to agriculture, that it is a permanent state, or that it is

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Chiricahua Apache groups were acquired

exchange. Navajo potters also made some


Navajo groups were acquired through
vessels even during earliest period of
Some of the vessels ownedSouthern
by different
Plains groups were acquired Some of the vessels owned by different No exchanged ceramics are recorded in No exchanged ceramics are recorded in Some of the vessels owned by different

Southwest occupation (Brugge 1981)


Some to all of the vessels owned by
Exchange of ceramics documented

20th century observations 20th century observations


different Hia C-ed groups were

acquired through exchange

through exchange through exchange

N/A N/A N/A

speaking groups along Lower


groups of US Southwest groups as well as Navajo groups as well as Navajo groups as well as Navajo groups of US Southwest
Exchange of any kind with Documented with Puebloan Documented with Puebloan Documented with Puebloan Documented with Puebloan Documented with Puebloan

ceramic-producing neighbors of US Southwest of US Southwest of US Southwest Documented with Yuman

None recorded None recorded None recorded

Gila River

References for ceramic manufacture,


Frink and Harry 2008; Harry et al.

ceramic use, or regional exchange 1988,Spielmann


1991,2000;1982,
Lintz1983,
1991;1991a, b
Baugh 1982, 1984, 1991; Ford, Ezell 1955; Fontana 1974; Hayden
Gifford 1932, 1936; Whittlesey
1972; Habicht-Mauche 1987,

Reid 1989, 1990; Sapir 1923; 1992, 1996; Towner 1996;

Buskirk 1986; Goodwin 1942;


Brugge 1981; Reed and Reed 1967; Nabhane/a/. 1989
Towner and Dean 1996
Reid 1990; Smith 1974
Whittlesey et al. 1997
2009; Reid 1990

Wissler 1910
etal. 1997

Opler 1941

archaeological data) (15th-17th century (archaeological data); 19th-20th century

19th-20th century 16th-20th century 16th-18th century 18th-20th century


19th-20th century

20th century 20th century 20th century

Table I Mobile Ceramic-Using Groups Discussed in this Paper 19th century


Mobile group(s) and region Time period of observations

(northwest North America)


Tobacco Plains Kutenai,

Northern Ute (western US)


Navajo (US Southwest)
North Alaskan Eskimo, Southern Great Plains,
Plains, North America)
Yavapai (US Southwest)
Ingalik, and Koyukon (northwestern Great

(US Southwest) (US Southwest) (US Southwest)


North America
Sarcee, Blackfoot Chiricahua Apache Western Apache Hia C-ed O'odham

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exchange is suggested by archaeological and interdependent relationships between illustrations and by archaeological data,
20th century ethnoarchaeological data
data (e.g., late prehistoric Trincheras exchange is suggested in 19th century
20th century observations, but some through exchange. Ceramic exchange

pastoralists and complex societies in


19th century observations, but some
No exchanged ceramics are recorded in No exchanged ceramics are recorded in this region have considerable time The source of pots for the Tuareg No exchanged ceramics are recorded in
through exchange (Turnbull 1965)
pots were made by "the Haratin

in the 20th century were acquired


in the 20th century were acquired these Saharan Desert groups were
All vessels owned by Bedouin groups Some to all of the vessels owned by

acquired through exchange. Teda All vessels owned by Bambuti groups


or slaves" (Briggs 1958, p. 107).
or Chaamba is not recorded
such as data from the Iron Age

(Denbow 1984)

ceramics) depth (Saidel 2004)


N/A

Documented with Lese villages

(Bowen 1983) and "trade


and Moser 1985, p. 11)
Documented with multiple
pastoralists in 19th century
Documented with multiple Documented with Khoekhoe
historical period (Felger
Contact with Yaqui, Pima,
withandother
Papago, Cochiminations" in
groups and in markets groups and in markets

None recorded None recorded

1985; Sheridan 1996; Villalpando


Matson 1965; Felger and Moser
Bowen 1976, 1983, 2000; Bowen Ochsenschlager 1974; Saidel 2000,
Bailey 1988; Bailey and Peacock

and Moser 1968; Di Peso and 1988; Hart 1979; Schebesta Dunn 1931; Sampson 1988;
Barnard 1992; Bleek and Lloyd
1911; Bollong 1996; Bollong
etal 1997; Denbow 1984;

Vierich 1982; Wilmsen 1989


1936; Turnbull 1965

Graham 1994 Holmberg 1985


Briggs 1958
1997 2008

20th century (ethnographic


fieldwork 1930s-1940s)
fieldwork 1987-1988)

20th century; earlier


19th century; earlier
archaeological data archaeological data

(ethnoarchaeological
19th-20th century 19th-20th century

20th century 20th century

Bushmen (southern Africa)


Bedouin (southern Levant) (Sahara Desert, Africa)
Seri (northwestern Mexico)
Siriono (eastern Bolivia) Tuareg, Teda, and Chaamba (Democratic Republic
(northwestern Mexico)

Raramuri/Tarahumara

Bambuti: Efe, Mbuti of the Congo)

1
1

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326 Beck

shared by all members of a particular ethnic or linguistic group. Individuals and


families may have practiced different settlement and subsistence strategies and even
fluctuated between them during their lifetimes (Ames 1991; Leacock 1982; Vierich
1982; Wilmsen 1989). The archaeological record across much of the western deserts
in the USA suggests "residential cycling and alternate pathways into and out of
sedentism" (Upham 1994, p. 141)... "as individual families of villagers were forced
to return to nomadism because of local crop failures or environmental disasters, and
as different groups of nomads were unable to continue their foraging activities
because of circumscription by agriculturalists" (Upham 1994, p. 139).
I focus here on groups with significant residential mobility (Binford 1980), which
include hunter-gatherers as well as those with horticultural practices. Those groups
with frequent residential moves are emphasized here because of the documented
effects of such mobility on ceramic manufacture and transport. Timing constraints
may limit or eliminate manufacture, as noted above (Arnold 1985). The need to
frequently pack and carry household equipment, if it does not make bulky and
fragile ceramic vessels more trouble than they are worth, at least modifies aspects of
their acquisition and use. Short occupation spans reduce vessel use-life, reducing the
level of ceramic investment and the number of ceramic types produced (Simms et al.
1997). Occupational redundancy, or repeated used of particular locations ("tethered
nomadism" in Binford's [1980] terms), encourages vessel use by allowing mobile
groups to cache vessels for future use where needed (Eerkens 2003; Simms et al.
1997). The relationships between mobility and ceramic use, and the ways in which
mobile groups negotiate the constraints, are the subject of the following section.

Ceramic Use and Transport by Mobile Groups

I begin by describing how ceramic vessels are used in general by mobile groups?
whether the vessels were of their own manufacture or acquired from another group?
to show that vessel use by more mobile groups is not qualitatively different from use
by more sedentary groups. Mobile groups use ceramics for some of the same reasons
sedentary agriculturalists do: to improve storage and to process food more intensively
through cooking. Each of these two techno-functions is discussed further below,
specifically with reference to mobile groups, before I consider the effect of different
types of transport strategies (either improving the ease of transport or avoiding
transport). Of course, material patterns are also influenced by social and political
interactions, a subject addressed at the end of this section.
Excellent reviews of ceramic use by mobile groups already exist, of course, often
oriented to the initial development of ceramic technology (Crown and Wills 1995;
Hoopes and Barnett 1995; Reid 1990; Rice 1999; Skibo and Blinman 1999)
although not always (Eerkens 2008; Saidel 2004). In general, ceramics arguably
have several advantages over other kinds of containers, depending upon their
construction. First, such vessels are watertight and pest resistant, two qualities
especially important for storage of seeds and other perishables (Crown and Wills
1995, p. 245). Second, they can be heated directly over a fire, making it easier to
heat or boil the contents for longer periods. Third, ceramic vessels can be used for
fermented liquids (Arnold 1985) and food-preparation techniques requiring long

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Residential Mobility and Ceramic Exchange 327

boiling or soaking, such as alkali processing (Beck 2001, Table 1; Skibo and
Blinman 1999). Large vessel sizes allow large volumes to be processed for special
events and enable long boiling of ingredients, as in Tarahumara tesguino preparation
(Fontana 1997, p. 48).
Adopters of ceramic technology make vessels in ways that meet their functional
and social needs and their labor schedules (Eerkens 2008; Schiffer and Skibo 1987;
Sassaman 1993). When ceramic vessels were widely accepted and produced in a
region, many mobile groups who used them could choose whether to make all of
their own pots or obtain some or all vessels from other groups. Given that hunter
gatherers and agriculturalists prioritize vessel performance characteristics differently
(Frink and Harry 2008; Harry et al. 2009; Schiffer and Skibo 1987; Skibo et al.
1989), we might wonder how well vessels from sedentary villages would fit the
techno-functional needs of mobile groups. Are they inferior for some tasks performed
by mobile groups? Are they less compatible with residential mobility? The answer is
"not necessarily", based on the following cross-cultural review of vessel use.
My argument here is that ceramics from other producers?such as sedentary
agriculturalists?could indeed meet a mobile group's techno-functional needs in
most cases. As outlined in detail below, there are almost no cases in which a special
vessel design is necessary for a unique, mobility-related task. The food-processing
activities of mobile groups described below are not unique to mobile groups, and
there is only one example of a specialized water storage function (documented below
for the Seri). Mobile groups do consider ease of manufacture and transport in their
own vessel designs, but only transport is an issue when vessels are obtained from
someone else, and transport problems can be solved in a variety of ways.

Storage

Ceramic vessels are commonly used for liquid and dry storage not only in sedentary
communities but also for mobile groups who may have significant storage needs.
Many mobile groups as well as agricultural groups in the western USA cached food
supplies in ceramic vessels (Wolley and Osborn 1991, Appendix E). The Seri of
coastal Sonoran, Mexico, used sealed ceramic vessels to store a wide range of foods,
including cooked and dried caterpillars, dried fish, sea turtle, or deer meat, seeds or
flour, mesquite and century plant cakes, and cactus fruits (Bowen and Moser 1968,
pp. 118-120; Felger and Moser 1985, pp. 39, 40, 91). They often kept storage
vessels in caves (Felger and Moser 1985, pp. 91-92), where they frequently
encountered vessels from earlier time periods (Bowen and Moser 1968, p. 123).
The Seri also used ceramic vessels to carry and cache water, of extreme
importance in their arid environment. This case is the only known ethnographic
example of a mobile group using ceramic vessels to solve a unique, mobility-related
problem. As such it is useful to discuss it in more detail below.

Specialized Vessel Function Along the Arid Sonoran Coast

The Seri are the only group in the greater US Southwest to have never practiced
agriculture. In the early historic period, Seri bands hunted, gathered wild plants, and
fished over a large area of the western coast of Sonora, Mexico, and the islands of

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328 Beck

Tiburon and San Esteban, although the Seri now primarily reside in fishing villages
along the coast (Ascher 1962; Bahre 1967, 1980; Bowen 1983; Fig. 1; Bowen 2000;
Felger and Moser 1985; Kroeber 1931; Sheridan 1996).
Water, rather than food, was the limiting factor for Seri populations (Felger and
Moser 1985, pp. 79-86). Both permanent and temporary water holes were named,
and there were many more temporary than permanent ones. Permanent water holes
might be springs, with a pool of water as large as several meters in diameter, or they
might be maintained wells. Temporary water holes filled up after rains. The Seri
would increase the amount of water that was collected there by enlarging holes and
digging in dry lake beds. Families or groups of families had their own territory
and associated water holes. People could return to their home territories when food
and water supplies permitted, but would form larger groups near permanent water
sources only when temporary sources dried up (Felger and Moser 1985, p. 94).
The Seri were residentially mobile, moving camps when necessary after local food
and water ran out or when possible after rain replenished water sources along the
intended route (Felger and Moser 1985, p. 3). Camps may have been occupied for
only a few days or for at least a month (Felger and Moser 1985, p. 3; Rosenberg and
Nabhan 1997, p. 58). Despite frequent residential moves, logistical trips for water
collection were still necessary. There is often a basic conflict in this region between
the availability of high-yield marine resources and potable water, and the Seri
generally chose to resolve this conflict by camping near the coast and transporting
water to camp. "Carrying water is a burden", Sheldon (1983, p. 124) observed in
1921, as he saw several Seri men set off on a 10-mile walk for water, "but they must
camp by the sea for their food supply" (see also Felger and Moser 1985, p. 79).
Perhaps the most important function for ceramics was the transport and longer-term
storage of water. Tinajas, or natural rock depressions that collect and hold rainwater, are
important sources of water to supplement springs but are not guaranteed sources,
particularly in very dry years (Broyles 1996). Ceramic ollas could also store water and
protect it from evaporation, and "must have held an extremely important and absolutely
functional place in Seri life" (Bowen and Moser 1968, p. 130). Buried vessels were
often used for water storage near tinajas (Bowen and Moser 1968, p. 120).
Water was carried to camp in large, thin, very strong ollas, held in nets on a yoke
(see illustrations in Di Peso and Matson 1965, p. 41 and Sheldon 1983, p. 126).
Prehistoric Seri pottery is also referred to as "eggshell" pottery because it is very thin
and hard, with low porosity (Bowen and Moser 1968; Bowen 1976:53-54).
Nonceramic water containers such as bags made of turtle stomach were also used
(Felger and Moser 1985, p. 49), but were not as efficient for transporting and storing
a large volume of water. The fragility of ceramic vessels was one drawback,
however; people carrying water would occasionally drop the vessels, and the trails to
water sources were littered with potsherds (Felger and Moser 1985, p. 79; Quinn and
Quinn 1965, p. 153). Today, Seri people carry water in 20-gal metal containers, still
using nets on yokes (Felger and Moser 1985).

Heating of Vessel Contents

People can cook without ceramic vessels, particularly if they focus on dry cooking
methods (Reid 1990), but dry cooking techniques only work well for meat and for

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Residential Mobility and Ceramic Exchange 329

some plant foods. Moist cooking is an important function for at least some early
North American ceramic vessels, such as Archaic-period vessels from the US
Southeast (Sassaman 1993) and vessels dating to A.D. 200-600 from the Colorado
Plateau (Skibo and Blinman 1999). I review here different moist cooking tasks
undertaken by mobile groups.
Ceramics can be used for moist cooking even when not placed directly on the fire.
Many hunter-gatherer vessels in northwestern North America were used for stone
boiling or were placed near the fire rather than over it (Reid 1990, p. 12, 16). These
vessels tend to have fiber temper, flat bottoms, thick walls, and wide openings, and
the thick clay walls insulated the contents more effectively than baskets or hides
(Reid 1990). This shape and paste is not linked exclusively with stone boiling,
however, appearing in Thule vessels from Alaska that were used over a fire (Frink
and Harry 2008). They also appear in Late Archaic vessels in the southeastern USA,
which were used for stone boiling in some areas and direct heating in others
(Sassaman 1995), and in Bushman ceramic vessels from southern Africa, which are
thick, fiber-tempered bowls with vertical sides and flat bases. Bushman vessels were
apparently used for direct heating because rim sherds from archaeological sites are
frequently covered in soot (Bollong et al. 1997, pp. 278-282; Sampson 1988,
pp. 41-44). In some contexts, even brief cooking or parboiling of foods in ceramic
vessels over direct heat may be more advantageous than stone boiling in baskets
because it reduces firewood consumption (Frink and Harry 2008).
As noted earlier, ceramic vessels are especially well suited to food-preparation
techniques requiring long simmering or boiling. Ceramic vessels are still used for
cooking in some traditional societies because of their utility for sustained boiling and
their resistance to boiling over, even though metal pots are also available (Beck
2003; Skibo 1994). Long simmering or boiling may improve the digestibility and
nutritional value of some foods (Arnold 1985; Braun 1983, 1987; Stahl 1989).
Certain activities such as rendering bone grease become easier with direct heating of
ceramic vessels and the ability to sustain boiling (Binford 1978a, b, pp. 158-159;
Crown and Wills 1995, p. 250).
Starchy seeds (including those from cultivated plants) often require extended
cooking times in water (Braun 1983). Some mobile groups obtain cultivated plant
foods from farming communities along with the technology and techniques of food
preparation, including ceramic vessels. Mbuti foragers in the Democratic Republic
of the Congo obtain both rice and beans, and the ceramic vessels in which to cook
them, from Lese villages (Turnbull 1965, pp. 35-36). Nomadic groups in the
southern Plains probably adopted Rio Grande cooking vessels along with Pueblo
food-processing methods, including the lengthy cooking of grains and stews in clay
vessels (Habicht-Mauche 1991, p. 69).
Once adopted, ceramic technology may be used for preparing both cultivated and
hunted and gathered foods. In the forests of eastern Bolivia, the Siriono boil
cultivated maize, manioc, and camotes; chonta fruit, a gathered product, is always
boiled, and fish is boiled as well (Holmberg 1985, pp. 84-86). Cultivated grains and
some wild seeds are ground and boiled by the Teda and Tuareg of the Sahara (Briggs
1958, pp. 133-135). Tiswin, the corn beer brewed by the Chiricahua Apache,
requires hours of boiling of sprouted corn kernels (Opler 1941, pp. 369-370). The
Chiricahua also boil wild plant foods such as seeds, one species of potato (Solatium

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330 Beck

jamesii, Tom), and mesquite beans and make soups or stews with meat or bones and
other ingredients. Felger and Moser (1985, p. 39) provide one explicit example of
Seri cooking in ceramic vessels: Caterpillars of the white-lined sphinx were cooked
in oil after removing the heads and viscera. Ceramic vessels were also probably used
to simmer gruels made of parched and ground seeds, to cook two plants
(Amaranthus fimbriatus and Boerhaavia coulteri) in water to be served as greens,
and to boil animal foods such as meat, shellfish, octopus, and fish (Felger and Moser
1985, pp. 86, 90-91).
In the ethnographic cases in Table I, ceramics were used for preparing wild foods
and resources, even in the absence of cultivated foods. Ceramic vessels were
especially useful for bone-grease production, as observed in northwestern North
America (Reid 1990). Their utility for extended cooking of starchy seeds, including
seeds from wild plants is also well known (Braun 1983, 1987). The Bushmen of
southern Africa used pottery for boiling meat to make soup, for boiling bones, and
for preparing gruel from ground grass seeds (Bollong et al. 1997).
Despite their residential mobility, the groups mentioned above used ceramic
vessels for a variety of tasks. Heating of contents as described here includes stone
boiling as well as simmering or boiling in water directly over a fire, either for
prolonged periods as in grease processing or grain or stew preparation or for much
shorter periods when parboiling. Sometimes ceramic vessels are adopted along with
cultivated foods; often ceramics are used to cook a wide range of wild and cultivated
foods. As noted earlier, mobile groups also use ceramic vessels for liquid and dry
storage, including the storage of cached supplies. Mobility clearly does not preclude
ceramic use, but it does influence the handling and storage of vessels in ways that
might affect vessel acquisition patterns and certainly affects deposition of vessels
into the archaeological record. Possible adjustments to mobility, described below,
include (1) making vessels easier to transport and (2) avoiding transport.

Ease of Transport

If one carries the entire ceramic assemblage around, it is easier to carry a few vessels
than many vessels. At least some mobile groups have few vessels and carry them all
when moving camp. Nomad families in the Sahara Desert such as the Tuareg, Teda,
and Chaamba own one, two, or "a few" ceramic cooking vessels (Briggs 1958,
pp. 92, 107, 117). The semi-nomadic Siriono of eastern Bolivia, who subsist on
hunting, gathering, and limited agriculture, make vessels only occasionally. "Since
more food is broiled or roasted than boiled or steamed, a family rarely possesses
more than one pot" (Holmberg 1985, p. 22). When camp is moved, the cooking
vessel is apparently placed with other household goods in a burden basket, carried
on the back, and suspended from the head (for women) or shoulders (for men) with a
tumpline (Holmberg 1985, pp. 106-108). The cooking vessel is added to a heavy
load of other domestic goods; the average burden carried by a Siriono adult when
moving camp is roughly 60-70 lb or 27-32 kg (Holmberg 1985, p. 107).
One way to limit the transported ceramic assemblage is to restrict ceramics to
cooking vessels, making vessels for water storage and other needs out of other
materials. Neither the Bushmen nor the Chiricahua Apache used ceramic vessels to
hold liquids for drinking. Within Bushmen camps, other materials were observed in

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Residential Mobility and Ceramic Exchange 331

use as dishes (ox horn, tortoise carapace, ostrich sternum, and ostrich egg shells) and
water containers (ostrich egg shells and springbok paunch; Bollong et al. 1997,
p. 280; Dunn 1931). The Chiricahua used baskets as water and tiswin (corn beer) jars
(Opler 1941, pp. 381-382).
Steps may also be taken to make vessels easier to carry and less prone to
breakage. These steps may include protective packaging, such as baskets packed
with grass or skin cases (Reid 1990, pp. 12-14) or design features of the vessel itself
to improve ease of transport. In the ceramic traditions of mobile groups, such design
features include reduced weight and the addition of holes or appendages to assist
with carrying.
Weight can be reduced by making vessels smaller or with thinner walls or by
choosing certain clays or tempering materials. For example, Tierra Blanca Plain
vessels made on the southern Plains by mobile groups are significantly smaller, with
thinner walls, than the Rio Grande Striated vessels from the Pueblos of north-central
New Mexico that were being imitated (Habicht-Mauche 1991, p. 60). Although
prehistoric Seri vessels are very large, their very thin walls reduce weight; Puebloan
vessels with similar volumes weigh over twice as much (Bowen and Moser 1968,
p. 125; McGee 1898, p. 185). Some clays, such as the lacustrine deposits used by
prehistoric Patayan and historical-period Yuman groups in southeastern California,
produce harder and lighter vessels (Heizer and Treganza 1944, p. 334). Fiber
tempering of ceramic vessels, used by mobile groups in North America and Africa,
reduces weight by increasing porosity (Bollong et al. 1997; Reid 1984a, b; Sampson
1988).
A variety of holes or appendages can be used to assist with carrying. Loop
handles appear on some Tierra Blanca Plain jars, perhaps "allowing the pots to be
securely fastened to dog travois or backpacks" (Habicht-Mauche 1991, p. 60).
Vessels used by the Sarcee Indians in Alberta had holes near the rim for a willow or
bone handle; when moving camp, women and children carried these vessels by their
handles, alongside the dog travois (Sapir 1923). Most Khoikhoi vessels had
perforated lugs or small holes in the wall for a thong; for transport, they were
hung from poles on the back of an ox (Bollong et al. 1997). Northern Ute vessels
also had holes near the rim for a thong, so that vessels could be hung from a saddle
or over a person's shoulder (Smith 1974, p. 87).
Methods and any vessel adaptations for transport vary with the available transport
technology. To summarize, transport methods from the above examples include
placement within burden baskets; hand-carrying aided by a handle, thong, or nets
attached to a yoke; and attachment to luggage, a pole, or saddle on a domestic animal
by a handle or thong. Some of these methods depend upon holes or appendages added
during manufacture, but others could be used with any ceramic vessel.

Avoiding Transport

Vessels made by more sedentary groups might have been somewhat harder to carry
around, given increased size or weight or the lack of appendages related to less
concern for transport in manufacture, but they could be integrated into the settlement
patterns of mobile groups nonetheless. An alternative strategy to routinely or
frequently transporting bulky household goods, including ceramic vessels, is to

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332 Beck

cache some of them. Mobile groups may use pottery more extensively if they can
cache vessels in places to which they periodically return (Eerkens 2003).
In many cases, the items stored for future use are not the ceramic vessels but their
contents, as described above under "Storage" and indicated by a review of
ethnographic and archaeological ceramic caches (Wolley and Osborn 1991,
Appendices D-E). In other cases, the vessels themselves are deliberately stored at
habitation locations as "site furniture", or materials left for future use when the site is
reoccupied (Binford 1978a, b; Graham 1994). For example, the Raramuri
(Tarahumara), farmers and pastoralists in the Sierra Madres of Chihuahua, Mexico,
move between three types of residences: main residence, with long-term storage
facilities; agricultural cycle residence; and cold-weather residence (Graham 1994,
pp. 40-48). Ceramic vessel assemblages are used and kept at both the main and
agricultural cycle residences, which are owned by particular families. Some vessels
are also left at rockshelters, although these serve as cold-weather residences for
multiple households (Graham 1994, p. 47). Other groups show similar strategies.
Vessels were frequently cached by waterways in the southwestern Great Basin
(Eerkens 2001). On the southern Plains, sherds from Puebloan glazeware storage
ollas are recovered only from larger habitation sites along the major water courses
(Hughes n.d., p. 80; Spielmann 1982, p. 318; Spielmann 1983, p. 264), a pattern
which has been interpreted as caching of these vessels at base camps (Habicht
Mauche 1991, p. 53).
If equipment can be easily replaced or borrowed, it may be abandoned or given
away when it is time to move. When leaving their camps within Lese villages for the
forest, the Mbuti leave much of the village material culture behind, except for
perhaps a metal vessel (Turnbull 1965, Figure 10). The items were originally
borrowed or stolen from the villagers, and similar items could be found again upon
their return. The Bedouin in southern Iraq do not take their unfired clay vessels with
them when they move either (Ochsenschlager 1974).
Task groups on logistical forays may avoid bringing ceramic vessels with them,
even if they are used at the base camp. Groups of men, such as members of Tohono
O'odham salt-collecting expeditions (Underhill 1946) and Blackfeet hunting parties
(Wissler 1910, p. 26), did not take vessels on these trips.

Social Display and Other Factors

The preceding discussion has focused on techno-functional advantages and constraints


to demonstrate that ceramics from other producers?such as sedentary agriculturalists?
could indeed meet a mobile group's needs and could be accommodated despite
residential mobility. In many cases, the vessels of neighboring agriculturalists may be at
least as well suited to the tasks and settlement pattern of mobile groups, although
potters from sedentary agricultural groups may place more emphasis on heating
effectiveness and durability than hunter-gatherer potters would (Schiffer and Skibo
1987). Of course, artifacts contribute to activities not only through their techno
function, as addressed above, but also through socio-function and ideo-function. These
other functions, related to status, ritual, access to producers, and other aspects of
interpersonal relationships, also influence material culture patterns. For example, early
ceramics in some regions associated with increasing sedentism were apparently used

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Residential Mobility and Ceramic Exchange 333

in ritual (Heidke 1999; Rice 1999) or in food-serving activities to enhance prestige


(Hayden 1995). Ceramics and other technologies may alter social relations when
introduced, and these changes may encourage (Hayden 1995) or discourage (Sassaman
1995) their use. Some groups resisted ceramic adoption because it would disrupt
existing exchange networks for vessels from other materials such as soapstone
(Hudson and Blackburn 1983; Sassaman 1993). Others prized trade vessels for their
connotations of external connections and wealth (Marshall and Maas 1997). Some of
these less tangible factors related to socio-function?particularly the influence of
external social relationships and access to producers?are the focus of the following
section.

Regional Interaction and the Ubiquity of Ceramics

In social landscapes populated with ceramic-using groups, ceramic acquisition was


no great hurdle for mobile groups. Using the ethnohistorical record, I describe below
the social environments that made ceramic vessels easily obtained even for
nonproducers. It is necessary to see a range of interactions and cultural, genetic,
and material exchanges between neighboring mobile and sedentary groups to
understand why ceramic exchange is so frequently a part of these relationships?
even when the mobile partner has a much smaller investment in ceramic use.
Ceramic exchange itself is usually mentioned in the ethnohistorical record only
briefly if at all, although, as shown below, archaeological remains often attest to its
presence.
Worldwide, foragers often form interdependent or cooperative relationships with
adjacent agriculturalists and pastoralists, whether or not they have similar languages
and ethnic backgrounds, and such symbiotic interactions have probably taken place
for millennia (Headland and Reid 1989, 1991; Leacock and Lee 1982). Exchange
relationships between mobile and sedentary groups range from occasional economic
transactions to close friendships and trade partnerships, perhaps involving multiple
generations (Ford 1972), to fictive kin relationships (Gluckman 1951, p. 84). Many
of these relationships involve regular exchanges of food and may vary depending on
the environment and available food resources (Spielmann 1986). Frequent and
economically important interaction does not necessarily produce more formal
exchange relationships. When supply varies unpredictably, formal trade partnerships
may not develop (Cashdan 1979) or may be redundant, involving goods that both
parties could or do obtain for themselves (Bailey and Peacock 1988). Desired goods
may not even be obtained directly from the producer but instead through down-the
line exchange (Ford 1972).
Actual kinship ties, which also structure exchange relationships, frequently extend
across mobile and sedentary groups. Foraging groups may add members, either
individuals or families, from food-producing communities that have lost crops or
land (Wilmsen 1989), a pattern perhaps seen prehistorically across the Desert West
of the USA (Upham 1994). In some cases, marriages between mobile and sedentary
groups are carefully arranged to forge kinship ties that will increase access to
resources (Wilmsen 1989, p. 213). Of the possible combinations for intermarriage
and residence, women from mobile societies are most likely to marry and live with

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334 Beck

men from sedentary agricultural communities. The pattern of women marrying out
of foraging groups is termed hypergyny and is the most common pattern, at least in
recent history (Bailey 1988; Speth 1991). Therefore intermarriage might be a
relatively uncommon way of introducing female potters from agricultural commu
nities into mobile groups, although it likely happened in some cases (Habicht
Mauche 2000). Women and men also frequently move between groups and change
settlement and subsistence modes for other reasons, however, such as capture, food
shortages, or exile (Adams and Chavez 1956, p. 252; Elphick 1977, pp. 36-37;
Opler 1941). Individuals and families may fluctuate between sedentism and
nomadism within or between generations (Wilmsen 1989).
I offer below two ethnographic examples of cooperative relationships leading to
frequent exchanges of people and material culture. These cases were chosen from
those listed in Table I as having the most available data on both external
relationships and ceramic use. They present these mobile groups as firmly embedded
within regional patterns of interaction and exchange and emphasize that these
relationships between groups with different settlement and subsistence patterns are
not a recent development confined to the period of European contact, but may have
existed for a very long time. Ceramic use by these and some other mobile groups
may be significantly related to the development of external relationships in
environments where ceramics (and foods customarily prepared in ceramics) were
widespread and friends and relatives were often ceramic users. This does not mean
that mobile groups passively incorporated technology to which they were exposed,
regardless of how it fit into their existing strategies. It does suggest a bias in favor of
at least occasional ceramic use when mobile groups had ample exposure to ceramic
technology and ceramic vessels were seen as the most appropriate tools for certain
tasks or situations.

Pueblo-Plains Interaction in the USA

Trade relationships between the eastern Pueblos and nomads from the southern Great
Plains were documented by Spanish explorers and colonists in the sixteenth and
seventeenth centuries. These regular exchanges of food and other items were
probably established in the fifteenth century, although there is evidence for limited
exchange after A.D. 1200 in the Texas Panhandle. During the protohistoric period,
Southwestern trade goods reached the Texas Panhandle, western Oklahoma, and
central Kansas (Baugh 1982, 1984, 1991; Habicht-Mauche 1988, 2000; Lintz 1991;
Spielmann 1982, 1983, 1991a, b). Ceramic vessels were a key part of this exchange
system. Southwestern ceramics in the Plains were primarily decorated wares until the
fifteenth century, when significant numbers of cooking vessels began to appear
along with glaze-painted vessels from the Rio Grande Pueblos (Habicht-Mauche
1987, 1988, 1991). In turn, cord-marked ceramics were among the Plains products in
Pueblo sites (Lintz 1991, p. 94).
Richard Ford (1972), in his classic paper on Tewa exchange, emphasizes the need
to understand not only exchanged goods but also the "sustaining mechanisms" of
exchange relationships. Exchange between the Tewa pueblos and the nomadic
Comanche, Ute, and Jicarilla Apache took place at the pueblos, at Comanche, Ute,
and Jicarilla Apache camps, and in other locations such as the Taos trade fairs. The

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Residential Mobility and Ceramic Exchange 335

Tewa provided agricultural products including corn and wheat, ceramic vessels, and
textiles, among other goods, and often received meat, hides, and leather goods as
well as horses, osage orange wooden bows, Navajo blankets (from the Ute as
middlemen) and coiled baskets (Jicarilla Apache).
Although there was overlap in the items exchanged between groups, different
social relationships governed the exchange. No formal trade partnerships existed
between Tewa and Comanche or Ute traders, who interacted on an irregular basis.
The pueblos were periodically raided by Comanche bands, and as a result, they felt
considerable pressure to trade if the Comanche initiated it. Relationships with the
Jicarilla Apache were closer, and by the late nineteenth century, at least one Tewa
pueblo (San Juan Pueblo) had developed inherited trade partnerships with the
Jicarilla. Individuals and their families periodically visited the homes of their trading
partners, bringing gifts, and regarded each other as "friends, almost relatives" (Ford
1972, p. 33). Interactions with other surrounding groups, such as the Navajo and
Kiowa, were generally hostile. Ford points out that raids and ambushes also led to
the redistribution and movement of property between groups.
Not all of this exchange was in utilitarian items. Appropriate costumes and
paraphernalia for Tewa ritual dances are heavily dependent upon outside goods. For
example, bison heads and bison neck hair from the Comanche are used in the
Buffalo Dance. The Deer Dance requires red ocher, obtained from the Ute. The
Jicarilla made the baskets used in the Basket Dance. Other necessary items must
obtained through a larger trading network, such as shell from the West Coast worn in
the Tablita Dances and the Buffalo Dance and parrot feathers from Mexico worn in
the San Juan Turtle Dance. Ritual goods need to be replaced periodically, serving to
maintain relationships between groups. In times of stress, these relationships,
"perpetuated by ritual needs, gave the pueblos access to the produce of other
ecosystems" (Ford 1972, p. 45).
People moved between groups as well, both as slaves and marriage partners. The
Comanche captured children and adults, both male and female, from neighboring
groups in the region and sold them as slaves in Taos (Adams and Chavez 1956,
p. 252). Some marriages occurred between Puebloan people and the Jicarilla, Ute,
and Navajo (Hill 1982, p. 155; Parsons 1964, pp. 31-32; Habicht-Mauche 2000,
p. 222). Habicht-Mauche (2000, p. 219) has argued only the presence of Puebloan
female potters, perhaps introduced by marriage or capture, explains the locally
manufactured copies of Puebloan vessels recovered from protohistoric archaeolog
ical sites on the Plains.

Foragers and Pastoralists in Southern Africa

For centuries, foragers and pastoralists in present-day South Africa, Botswana,


Namibia, and Angola have lived in multi-ethnic and multi-linguistic settings and
maintained complex social and economic relationships with groups using different
subsistence strategies. Bushmen developed their own ceramic tradition but also used
the ceramics of neighboring groups.
Nomadic foraging groups in southern Africa have been collectively labeled
"Bushmen", from the Dutch word Bosejesmans (Barnard 1992, pp. 8-9). Other
terms in the literature include San, from the Khoekhoe word for foragers, and

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336 Beck

Basarwa, the Setswana term for speakers of San languages (Barnard 1992, p. 8;
Vierich 1982, p. 213; Wilmsen 1989, p. 275). Khoe-speaking Bushmen reside in the
Kalahari Desert and to the east and north and include the Eastern Khoe Bushmen
and the Nharo. Non-Khoe-speaking Bushmen include the IKung, further divided
into the Central, Northern, and Southern !Kung. The Central !Kung in Botswana and
Namibia are also known as the Zu/=hoasi, Ju/wasi, Zu, or Zhu and are the group
with whom most anthropologists have worked (e.g., Lee 1965, 1979, 1984; Lee and
Devore 1976; Marshall 1976; Wiessner 1977, 1982; Yellen 1977).
In the twentieth century, Bushmen lived as participants in a broader regional
economy, cooperating with or depending upon pastoralists, or becoming pastoralists
when possible (Vierich 1982; Wilmsen 1989). Some aspects of this dependence,
interdependence, and economic flexibility are documented hundreds of years earlier,
mostly in accounts written after the founding of the Dutch colony at the Cape of
Good Hope in 1652 (Elphick 1977, p. 32-37). Despite conflicts over water sources
and grazing land needed by both cattle and game animals, many interactions were
friendly. In addition to their exchange relationships, Bushmen were also employed
by Khoekhoe pastoralists as hunters, messengers, warriors, and herdsmen. In some
cases, Bushmen resided in enclaves or groups of huts within the kraals of their
Khoekhoe employers. Individuals moved between groups through intermarriage,
changes in economic circumstances, or exile. Bushmen women became potential
Khoekhoe marriage partners through "the well-known hunter custom of giving away
or 'selling' their children to avoid starvation in difficult times" (Elphick 1977, 36). A
few Khoehoe joined Bushmen communities, at least in some cases because they
were exiled from their original communities (Elphick 1977, p. 37).
It was initially believed that these interactions and interrelationships were
confined to the European contact period, appearing after relatively recent intrusions
by food-producing groups into forager territory. Archaeological work has since
demonstrated the coexistence of multiple subsistence patterns for centuries (Bollong
1996; Bollong et al 1997; Denbow 1984; Maggsl976; Sampson 1996; Thorp 2000;
Wilmsen 1989, p. 65). Late Stone Age lithics attributed to foragers appear in a few
Iron Age sites, and Early Iron Age ceramics, iron tools, and domesticated animal
remains have been recovered, in limited numbers, from eighth- and ninth-century
forager sites in the northern Kalahari sandveld (Denbow 1984, pp. 180-183).
Denbow (1984, p. 188) suggests that, given the willingness of modern Dobe IKung
men to walk 100 km to work in South African mines, people could have traveled
similar distances in the past to take advantage of opportunities and resources in Iron
Age settlements.
Although ceramic exchange is not noted in ethnohistoric accounts, it is possible
that Bushmen used some vessels manufactured by the Khoekhoe in addition to their
own. Nineteenth-century images from southern Africa depict Bushmen vessels in
Khoekhoe camps as well as Khoekhoe vessels in Bushmen camps (Bollong et al
1997), and exchange is one explanation for this pattern.

Ceramic Exchange and Assemblage Composition

The vessel assemblages of mobile groups should reflect regional interactions with
nearby sedentary groups, although given the lack of data quantifying ceramic

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Residential Mobility and Ceramic Exchange 337

exchange, we can only generalize about the effects of this interaction. Table I
summarizes available ethnographic data on exchange relationships and sources of
ceramic vessels for the mobile groups discussed in this paper. For example, the
Mbuti made none of the ceramic vessels they owned (Turnbull 1965). Southern
Plains groups acquired polychrome and redware vessels from Puebloan groups while
manufacturing their own cooking vessels (Habicht-Mauche 1987). Other examples
include the Chiricahua Apache, who made some of their ceramic vessels but
obtained others from the Pueblos and Navajo (Opler 1941, pp. 382-384, 398) and
the Hia C-ed O'odham, desert foragers in southwestern Arizona who acquired at
least some ceramics from villagers along the Lower Gila River (Ezell 1955, p. 370;
Hayden 1967, p. 342). Eleven groups have ethnographically documented relation
ships with sedentary agriculturalists, and seven of these 11 groups (64%) owned
trade ceramics.
The use of exchanged ceramics by mobile groups may be more widespread than
these numbers suggest. Several cases, perhaps better documented in the archaeo
logical record than the ethnohistorical record, reveal how little attention ethnogra
phers and historians have paid to ceramic exchange. For example, ceramic exchange
has not been a focus when investigating relationships between the Navajo and
neighboring Pueblo groups (Reed and Reed 1992; Towner and Johnson 1998).
Traded ceramics, or indeed any specific items of exchanged material culture, are also
not recorded for the Seri despite ample evidence of interaction and exchange with
their neighbors. The Jesuit missionary Padre Andres Perez de Ribas stated prior to
1645 that the Seri "sustain themselves by hunting, although during the time of the
maize harvest, they go with deer hides and salt, which they gather from the sea, to
trade with other nations" (Perez de Ribas 1944, II, p. 148; translation from Spanish
in Felger and Moser 1985, p. 11). "Historic documents and Seri oral tradition attest
to contact with every neighboring group (Yaqui, Pima, Papago, and Cochimi)," and
there is evidence of borrowing in basketry, music, and dancing (Bowen 1983,
p. 232). The archaeological record provides more information on what materials
might have been exchanged. Exotic ceramics are among the collections from
archaeological sites on the central coast?particularly ceramics from the Trincheras
culture to the north and east, dating to the period A.D.800 until after 1300 (Bowen
1976). Several authors (Felger and Moser 1985, p. 9; Sheridan 1996, p. 192;
Villalpando 1997) propose prehistoric groups ancestral to the Seri were directly
involved in the Gulf coast shell trade with Trincheras, Hohokam, or Casas Grandes
groups (Carpenter et al 2008; Di Peso 1974, III, pp. 500-505, 627-629; Haury
1976, pp. 305-308; Johnson 1963), and at least occasional Hohokam use of obsidian
from the Seri region (Bayman 2007; Bayman and Shackley 1999) may support the
notion of ancestral Seri participation.
Some exchange includes items that the parties could make or obtain for
themselves (Bailey and Peacock 1988) including ceramic vessels. As noted above
and in Table I, mobile groups may still obtain some vessels from their neighbors
even if they have their own ceramic tradition. Villagers may also receive ceramic
vessels from mobile groups, even if the ceramics they themselves make are stronger,
more finely made, or more elaborately decorated. For example, Plains cord-marked
ceramics are frequently among the Plains products in Pueblo sites (Lintz 1991,
p. 94). Ceramic exchange in these cases would still reduce the labor investment in

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338 Beck

pottery for mobile groups and may reflect the value of the vessel contents rather than
the vessel itself. The result would be the frequent co-occurrence of ceramics from
different groups. Khoekhoe and Bushman pottery are often recovered from the same
archaeological contexts and may also represent ceramic exchange between these
groups, although previously this has been attributed to different occupation periods
or to manufacture of multiple ceramic types by one group (Bollong et al. 1997,
pp. 292-296; Sampson 1988, pp. 38, 47).

Vessel Ownership and Cultural Affiliation: Archaeological Predictions


and an Archaeological Case Study from the US Southwest

The preceding sections emphasized how frequently mobile groups obtain pottery
from more sedentary neighbors and why this happens. This section addresses the
implications of this ceramic exchange for the interpretation of small surface
archaeological sites. For example, the presence of multiple ceramic wares or
traditions at one site might not indicate that multiple groups used the site; it might
instead reflect discard by one mobile group that cobbled together a functional vessel
assemblage from multiple sources. If that group's external relationships changed
over time, the primary sources of ceramic vessels may have changed as well. A
stable territory used by the same mobile populations for hundreds of years could,
when looking at ceramic patterns, resemble shifting territories of different ceramic
producing groups.
How can sites created by people on a logistical trip away from a sedentary village
be distinguished from those created by mobile groups, particularly if village
communities provided at least some of the diagnostic material culture to the mobile
groups? Other archaeologists have grappled with this problem (e.g., Denbow 1984;
Lyneis 2000), and there is unlikely to be one pat answer that works in all regions. I
propose here that the techno-function of the recovered ceramics may provide
valuable clues to the site's place in the broader settlement system because villagers
and residentially mobile groups should have different patterns of vessel transport.
The ethnographic and ethnoarchaeological literature reviewed earlier in the paper
suggests how ceramic vessels are used in short-term occupations and specialized
sites and how increased mobility affects ceramic manufacture and use. Unfortunately
relatively few data exist on ceramic use during logistical forays by villagers, but I
review one of the few detailed descriptions (Goodyear 1975) below. A comparison
of ceramic transport and use patterns between these logistical forays and the
residential moves of mobile groups reveals characteristic differences in the vessels
most likely to be discarded. Serving or eating vessels transported by villagers on a
logistical foray should include larger sizes for accommodating larger groups of
people. Residentially mobile groups are particularly likely to have small individual
eating bowls and plain ware cooking jars from sedentary communities, but probably
manufactured their own water jars.
I then relate these patterns to archaeological data from the Western Papagueria of
the US Southwest, where previous data collection has emphasized ceramic ware and
type in assigning site cultural affiliation. We need different data to test the models
presented here such as regional data on vessel form and size as well as ceramic ware

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Residential Mobility and Ceramic Exchange 339

and type. The limited available data on vessel form and size from the Western
Papagueria suggest that this approach is a promising one, providing a better
understanding of the ceramic distributions from small sites in the interior desert.

Vessel Function at Short-term Sites: Different Patterns from Logistical


and Residential Mobility

Logistical Mobility

Goodyear (1975) addresses collecting activities of the modern Pima and Tohono
O'odham in the Sonoran Desert of the US Southwest. Certain resources are processed
before they are brought back to the village; as a result, processing equipment,
including ceramic vessels, may be deposited at collection sites. Four types of resources
require ceramic vessels for processing: saguaro fruit, prickly pear fruit, organ pipe
fruit, and leguminous seeds (mesquite, palo verde, whitethorn, and ironwood).
The pulp of saguaro fruit, prickly pear fruit, and organ pipe fruit was boiled down
in a cooking vessel to make syrup. Because substantial amounts of water were used
while boiling down the pulp, water jars might be larger or more numerous than
needed to supply drinking water alone (Goodyear 1975, p. 95). The resulting liquid
was transported back to the village in jars, probably small decorated jars, sealed with
a sherd lid cemented with adobe or a sticky substance produced by insects (Castetter
and Bell 1937, p. 14; Goodyear 1975, pp. 81, 125, 182).
Leguminous seeds were partially processed when gathered, if the bulk needed to
be reduced for transport. Pods were sun-dried before the seeds were removed and
parched. Hayden (1969, p. 156-157) notes that mesquite pods were commonly
consumed as a flour or meal by the Pima and Tohono O'odham (as well as the
Colorado River Yumans and Seri). The beans themselves were often discarded, but
could be used to make a beverage and a cake. When beans or seeds were parched,
either a vessel fragment or a shallow bowl could be used for parching (Castetter and
Underhill 1935, p. 25; Goodyear 1975, p. 167).
Goodyear concludes that jars should dominate cactus-processing sites, and wide
mouthed bowls should dominate leguminous seed-processing sites. Sites in his
project area were classified by function based on nonceramic evidence and largely
follow his predictions. Jars dominate sites identified as saguaro camps, prickly pear
camps, and organ pipe camps (Goodyear 1975, pp. 96, 138-139, 183-185). Plain
ware bowls dominate sites identified as leguminous seed-processing sites (Goodyear
1975, pp. 171-172).
In addition to the processing equipment, the ceramic assemblages probably
included some basic domestic equipment (cooking vessels, water jars, and serving
and eating vessels), depending upon the number of people and length of stay.
Collection and processing sites seem to have been occupied for brief periods with
the exception of saguaro camps. Saguaro fruit was processed in "seasonally visited
permanent camps which possessed a crude shelter or ramada, water jars, cooking
ollas, and manos and metates for seed grinding" (Goodyear 1975, p. 82). Saguaro
camps, although dominated by jars, have more bowls than expected. Many of these
bowls were probably used for serving and eating by a group over a stay of several
weeks (Bruder 1975, p. 336; Goodyear 1975, pp. 96-97).

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340 Beck

In summary, when O'odham villagers needed vessels for resource procurement, they
brought along relatively thick and heavy vessels from their village for the task.
Depending upon the group size, they also brought some of the serving and eating vessels
in frequent use at home to serve meals in a familiar manner. Prehistoric groups in the
region had similar vessel use patterns, as suggested by archaeological evidence.
Hohokam red-on-buff bowls (in the form of Santa Cruz and Sacaton Red-on-buff rim
sherds) were present at leguminous-seed-processing sites (Goodyear 1975, p. 171).
Decorated jars (Tanque Verde Red-on-brown sherds) have been recovered at processing
camps for saguaro, prickly pear, or organ pipe cactus (Goodyear 1975, pp. 96, 138, 183)
and could have served to transport cactus fruit syrup as suggested by Raab (1973).

Comparisons to Residential Mobility

Although ceramic vessels serve the same range of functions for both mobile and
sedentary groups (cooking, liquid storage, dry storage, and serving and eating),
residentially mobile groups prioritize some functions over others in their acquisition
of ceramic vessels. As noted earlier, many residentially mobile groups did not use
ceramic serving and eating vessels such as bowls, preferring other materials to
pottery for this function. Wilmsen (1989, p. 74) suggests that when these groups did
acquire serving and eating vessels from more sedentary communities (such as when
nomadic Late Stone Age people in southern Africa acquired them from Early Iron
Age communities), they were prized for social rather than functional reasons as
"material manifestations of the relations of production". Small vessels of these types
might therefore be carried around by people who acquired them through exchange
and prized them for their social connotations. They could also be important for
ceremonial or ritual reasons. For example, Ababda nomads in Egypt bring several
tiny coffee cups and other materials needed to serve and drink coffee on even short
logistical trips, as coffee is part of basic hospitality rituals (Wendrich 2008). Village
groups such as the Tohono O'odham also brought ceramic serving and eating vessels
to feed groups of people on logistical trips (Bruder 1975; Goodyear 1975). The size
of such vessels, when present, should reflect the number of people being served (Mills
1999). In sum, any serving or eating vessels transported by mobile groups should be
small, whereas the serving or eating vessels transported by villagers on a logistical
foray should include larger sizes for accommodating larger groups of people.
Groups practicing either residential or logistical mobility are more likely to
routinely transport certain vessel types, such as cooking vessels and water storage
vessels, and these vessels would be the most expected types at all short-term
occupations. Mobile groups may have frequently obtained cooking vessels from
villages, but probably manufactured their own water vessels if relying heavily on
transport and storage of water supplies in an arid region. Dry storage jars are
unexpected at the temporary camps of either mobile or sedentary groups and should
instead be found cached in protected places by mobile groups or left in villages.

Ceramics, Mobility, and the Archaeological Record

Archaeologists working in the Western Papagueria of southwestern Arizona and


northwestern Sonora frequently encounter mixed ceramic assemblages on small

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Residential Mobility and Ceramic Exchange 341

surface sites. Researchers here frequently debate whether the appearance of multiple
ceramic traditions at a site represents exchange between contemporaneous groups or
deposition during multiple site occupations; especially in surface sites, it is hard to
tell the difference (Doyel 2000, p. 105). The sparse material record at the surface
artifact scatters common in the interior desert, which apparently represent short-term
encampments or specialized sites, does not provide many clues to ethnicity or other
group identity. Any diagnostic artifacts are usually small portable objects (Ahlstrom
et al 2000), and cultural affiliation is often tentatively assigned to site residents
based on the dominant ceramic tradition (e.g., Gregonis 2000, p. 473; Lyon and
Gregonis 2000, pp. 663-664; Slaughter and Lascaux 2000, p. 513). When the
ceramics include types manufactured in riverine villages on the boundaries of the
Western Papagueria, the sites are often interpreted as evidence of logistical forays
into the Papagueria by these village residents (e.g., Doelle 1980; Masse 1991),
although the region was also used by local populations with high residential mobility
(Bayman 2007; Huckell 1979).
Similar interpretive issues arise in other regions such as southern Nevada, where
Puebloan habitations appear in riverine areas, and Puebloan ceramics are recovered
throughout the desert to the west (Lyneis 2000). The Las Vegas Valley has been
defined as an "interface" between the riverine settlements and mobile foragers; these
foragers may have included Patayan people, as suggested by locally produced Lower
Colorado Buff Ware. Pueblo sherds in upland areas away from the riverine
settlements have been interpreted as evidence of logistical forays by Puebloan
groups, but Lyneis (2000, pp. 266-267) has argued they could also represent the
periodic dispersal of village residents or vessels exchanged to neighboring mobile
groups. Lyneis (2000, p. 267) concluded, "We are a long way from knowing what
Pueblo sherds in outlying areas mean in terms of behavior."
The Western Papagueria case is discussed in more detail below to explore how the
ideas about mobility and ceramic exchange in this paper can be used in archaeological
interpretation. Given the very real possibility of exchange between neighboring
groups, ceramic ware and type are not the best variables to assess site affiliation for
small sites. Because the techno-function of discarded vessels is related to the type of
mobility, a focus on vessel function and the variables used to determine it (including
vessel form and size from rim sherds) will help us place individual sites within a
broader settlement system and in that way link these sites to particular groups.

Occupation and Use of the Western Papagueria

The Western Papagueria, a portion of the Sonoran Desert, averages 15 cm of


precipitation annually and is bounded by the Gila River on the north, the Gulf of
California on the south, the Colorado River on the west, and the Sauceda Mountains
on the east (Masse 1980, Table 1; Sellers and Hill 1974). Identifiable prehistoric
residents of this arid region include the Hohokam and Lowland Patayan, and
ceramics from one or both groups are often recovered not only from riverine
settlements but also from the surface artifact scatters common in the interior desert
(Ahlstrom and Roberts 2002; Beck 2008).
The Hohokam, riverine agriculturalists, expanded their settlements from the
Middle Gila River valley to the Lower Gila, near the modern community of Gila

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342 Beck

Bend, by A.D.600 (see Fig. 1). During the period A.D.750-1100, multiple
Hohokam villages and agricultural fields with canal irrigation were established
along the Lower Gila, and all of the riverine villages in this area appear to be
affiliated with the Hohokam (Doyel 2000, 2008; Teague 1981; Wasley and Johnson
1965). Hohokam Buff Ware ceramics similar to those produced in the Middle Gila
River area were also manufactured here (Abbott 2000; Lindauer 1988; Teague 1981,
p. 54).
The Lowland Patayan occupied pithouses or more ephemeral structures in
seasonal settlements along the Colorado River to the west (Rogers 1945; Schaefer
1994; Waters 1982). Patayan habitation sites have been tentatively identified but not
excavated along the Lower Gila west of Gila Bend (McGuire 1982, p. 219; Vivian
1965). Although none of the riverine villages in the Gila Bend area appear Patayan,
there is evidence of Patayan use of nearby nonriverine settings. The Mobak site (AZ
Z:l:29 [ASM]), on an alluvial fan within 15 km of the Gila River, provides evidence
of seasonal nonriverine horticulture by Patayan groups (Bruder and Hill 2008; Hill
and Bruder 2000; Hill et al. 2008). There are clear differences in vessel form, surface
finish, and other aspects of manufacture between Hohokam Buff Ware and the
Lower Colorado Buff Ware ceramics produced by the Lowland Patayan, although
both groups used the buff-firing clays available in the Lower Gila area (Beck 2006).
Archaeological evidence suggests that throughout their territories, both the
Hohokam and Lowland Patayan used resources in the interior desert, establishing
habitation and special-activity sites. At the Hohokam site AZ Z:13:l (ASM) in the
Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, roughly 100 km away from the Gila River,
residents constructed an earthen reservoir for water collection and storage (Bayman
et al. 2004; Palacios-Fest et al. 2008; Rankin 1995). Based on work in the eastern
Papagueria, Masse (1991, p. 202) has suggested that "most of the pre-Classic period
Hohokam manifestations in the Papagueria resulted from the seasonal movement of
some Gila Valley villagers into what were essentially summer field villages", similar

Fig. 1 The Western Papagueria in southwestern Arizona.

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Residential Mobility and Ceramic Exchange 343

to historical-period seasonal movements of the Tohono O'odham. Doelle (1980) has


suggested that specialized sites in the northern San Cristobal Valley in the Western
Papagueria represent the hunting activities of riverine village residents. Trips to the
Gulf of California for shell may have also brought the Hohokam into the interior
desert (Hayden 1972), although some researchers have argued that most shell was
procured by residents of the Papagueria (Doelle 1980; Marmaduke and Martynec
1993; McGuire and Howard 1987).
The Yuman-speaking descendents of the Lowland Patayan historically moved
away from the river in small groups during summer floods to occupy campsites, a
pattern that may also have been present prehistorically (Rogers 1945, pp. 180-181;
Schaefer 1994). In California, Rogers (1945, p. 181) argued that "well-developed
trails which are strewn with thousands of broken vessels" and even metates indicate
similar seasonal movements between the Blythe Valley, near what is now the
Arizona-California border, and the Lower Colorado River.
There may have been other local populations in the interior desert (Bayman
2007), mobile groups who relied on foraging and perhaps some limited horticulture
and lived away from the riverine communities. The site of Lago Seco (AZ Y:8:3
[ASM]; Huckell 1979), which is dominated by Patayan ceramics, is more than
40 km south of the Gila River and may have been created by mobile groups not
affiliated with riverine populations. Both Hohokam Buff Ware and Lower Colorado
Buff Ware made from Lower Gila River clays were recovered at BMGR-02-F-04, a
rockshelter over 50 km away from the river, suggesting that some interior desert sites
were created by groups that at least visited or interacted with riverine settlements
(Beck and Neff 2007).
The Piman-speaking Hia C-ed O'odham, one example of a mobile Papaguerian
group from the post-contact period, traditionally used 14,000 km2 of the Western
Papagueria (Eiler and Doyel 2008). Mobility, subsistence, and habitat use strategies
varied over this large area but the Hia C-ed at least occasionally engaged in
horticulture and established seasonal camps and villages (Crosswhite 1981; Fontana
1974, 1983; Nabhan et al. 1989). Regular exchange with riverine agricultural
communities on the Lower Colorado was an important part of the subsistence pattern
(Ahlstrom et al. 2000, pp. 125-126; Fontana 1974, p. 517; Hayden 1967, pp. 341
342; Lumholtz 1971, p. 332), and some Hia C-ed groups acquired some or all of
their ceramic vessels during trade visits (Ezell 1955, p. 370; Hayden 1967, p. 342).

Archaeological Ceramic Distributions

Hohokam ceramics tend to dominate sites to the east of Gila Bend and Patayan
ceramics tend to dominate sites to the west, but ceramics from both traditions are
found in multiple sites near Gila Bend (Ahlstrom and Chenault 2000; Dart et al.
1989; Ezell 1954, 1955; Gifford 1946; Homberg et al. 1994; Teague 1981; Wasley
and Johnson 1965; Wilson 2000). In the region of the Hohokam ceramic western
boundary, such as in the Gila Bend area (Dart et al. 1989; Homberg et al. 1994;
Teague 1981; Wasley and Johnson 1965; Wilson 2000) and the San Cristobal and
Growler Wash areas (Gregonis 2000, p. 473), ceramics of both traditions frequently
co-occur at the same site, particularly around A.D. 900-1100. Potters in the San
Cristobal Wash and Growler Wash areas apparently reproduced Patayan, Hohokam,

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344 Beck

and O'odham vessels using local materials, as suggested by locally available


volcanic temper, and also blended aspects of these ceramic traditions (Gregonis
2000, p. 473). The ceramic type Gila Bend Plain is one example of a "hybrid" type,
manufactured with Yuman ceramic technology and locally available materials (Lyon
and Gregonis 2000, p. 663). The mixing of wares and blending of ceramic traditions
has also been noted in the Ajo area (Ezell 1955, p. 369; Mallouf 1980).
Small sites in the interior desert generally have sparse material culture and few
features, and temporally or culturally diagnostic artifacts are small, portable, and
limited in number (Ahlstrom et al 2000, p. 74). Although some small sites and
artifact scatters away from the riverine villages contain only Patayan ceramics,
others are dominated by Hohokam sherds or have a mixture of types (Beck 2008).
Where very few ceramics, or few diagnostic ceramics, are observed, the presence of
any Hohokam ceramics (particularly Hohokam red-on-buff ceramics) has been used
to assign a Hohokam affiliation.

Reinterpreting Ceramic Distributions

Instead of simply assigning an affiliation based on diagnostic ceramic types, we can


examine the functions of the vessels represented to infer whether the assemblage was
more likely discarded by a residentially mobile group or by villagers on a logistical
trip. This would help to clarify the extent to which groups with different settlement
and subsistence systems?such as the Hohokam and the Lowland Patayan?had
overlapping territories and engaged in regular exchange. The data needed for this
approach include not only ceramic ware and type but also vessel form and size.
Vessel form and size data are best collected from rim sherds and are only
infrequently available for sites across the Papagueria, in part because of an emphasis
on determining the cultural affiliation and date of sites through ceramic ware and
type frequencies (Beck 2008). The limited available data for the Papagueria,
combined with the earlier discussion of ceramic use and transport by mobile groups,
are used below to establish preliminary guidelines for distinguishing different groups
in the region.
Several archaeological projects that do provide vessel form and size data reveal a
surprising regional emphasis on small bowls as well as jars. Eight separate vessels,
including three bowls and five jars, were identified at AZ Y:6:10 (ASM), in the
northern San Cristobal Valley (Doelle 1980, pp. 223, 244, Table 8.9), a site
attributed to "the activities of a subgroup of specialized hunters from nearby riverine
farming villages" (Doelle 1980, p. 285). All were Lower Colorado Buff Ware vessels
and the only bowl complete enough to measure had a rim diameter of 14 cm, a size
strongly suggestive of an individual eating bowl. Two sites near Yuma, AZ X:4:109
(ASM) and AZ X:4:130 (ASM), contained multiple broken Lowland Patayan
vessels, including many bowls, associated with trails (Vanderpot and Altschul 1999,
pp. 29, 106-108, 113-115, 161). Small bowls, also probably individual eating
bowls, dominated the collection at BMGR-02-F-04, a rockshelter in ETAC on the
Barry M. Goldwater Range (Beck 2008). Individual eating bowls may have been a
common component of traveling equipment.
From a techno-functional perspective, it is surprising that any Hohokam red-on
buff vessels were deposited in small sites in the interior desert. This ware may have

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Residential Mobility and Ceramic Exchange 345

been especially vulnerable to breakage: Strength testing indicates that at least two
Gila Basin red-on-buff types, Santa Cruz and Sacaton Red-on-bufF, are weaker than
contemporaneous plain ware (Beck 2002). This ware is also most suitable for
functions that are less common in short-term occupations, such as serving and eating
and dry storage. Cooking would have been an unlikely function because soot from
the fire would obscure the decorated surface, and this buff ware is too porous for
water transport in a very arid environment. As a result, we would expect Hohokam
Buff Ware to be used primarily for the serving and eating bowls of large logistical
groups (with relatively large vessel sizes to match) and for the small eating bowls of
individuals, during either logistical or residential moves.
Given the importance of water in this arid environment, and the weight involved
in transporting it, mobile groups in the interior probably manufactured their own
water jars instead of relying on jars from riverine communities. They would have
had a more pronounced need for strong, light, watertight vessels for intensive water
transport or storage and would have maintained the ability to produce these
specialized vessels. Some aspects of Lower Colorado Buff Ware vessels do in fact
suggest design features to accommodate mobility, including consistently thinner
vessel walls and the use of lacustrine deposits as pottery clay to produce a harder
vessel that was lighter in weight (Heizer and Treganza 1944, p. 334; Stone 1982;
Wilson 2000).
I propose that small individual eating bowls (including Hohokam Buff Ware
bowls) and plain ware cooking jars are the ceramics from riverine villages most
likely to appear in the sites of residentially mobile groups in the Western
Papagueria. A site with only a few Hohokam red-on-buff sherds and mixed
Hohokam and Lowland Patayan plain ware could easily have been created by a
Lowland Patayan or other residentially mobile group. Any assignment of cultural
affiliation based on ceramics alone would be misleading in this case; an
assessment of vessel form and size is needed to determine which vessel functions
are represented. A large number of red-on-buff ceramics would suggest a longer
term occupation as well as relatively easy access to this ware, and sites with a
large ceramic assemblage dominated by red-on-buff vessels (including large bowls)
probably had Hohokam occupants.
Dry storage jars are unexpected at the temporary camps of either mobile or
sedentary groups and should instead be found cached in protected places by mobile
groups or left in villages. Storage vessels are indeed found in caches throughout the
Western Papagueria. Five sealed Patayan III ollas, cached in a crevice on the western
side of the Trigo Mountains about 5 km east of the Colorado River, contained
"flowering wild plant parts" based on pollen evidence. These may have been stored
for medicinal or ceremonial use (Schaefer and Elling 1987, pp. 58-60). A Patayan
II?III olla cached within a cave in the same area might have contained maize, as
indicated by traces of maize pollen; other species in the pollen suggest the vessel
was last used near the Colorado River (Cummings 1989; Jones 1989).
The archaeological predictions described above assume a connection between
vessel discard and routine site activities. This is not necessarily true if vessels were
carried into the interior desert for ritual purposes; as proposed by a Quechan
informant, some ceramic vessels along trails or in other locations in the Papagueria
are ritually broken (Vanderpot and Altschul 1999, p. 161).

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346 Beck

Conclusions

Throughout history and prehistory, some mobile groups lived near larger, more
socially complex, and more sedentary populations with whom they frequently
exchanged people, information, and material culture. Some acquired ceramic vessels
from other producers, as they would later acquire Euroamerican industrial goods
(Whittlesey et al. 1997, pp. 211-212), to supplement their container assemblages.
Vessels from sedentary groups may have effectively addressed existing needs or
been part of a package of introduced foods, cooking techniques, and technology. Of
course, people may use trade vessels for other reasons, related less to vessel techno
function and more to social display (Marshall and Maas 1997; Sassaman 1993).
Archaeologists have been more willing to interpret pre- or protohistoric mixed
assemblages as evidence of exchange if exchange (particularly ceramic exchange) is
well documented in the region during the historical period. We should think more
broadly than that; ceramic exchange is a serious possibility whenever mobile groups
are in spatial proximity to sedentary agriculturalists. Its absence, if genuine, is worth
noting as potential evidence of an indifferent or hostile social climate.
We should expect fundamentally different approaches to material culture
management between mobile and sedentary groups, with more focus on expedient
technology, a greater emphasis on storage in nonresidential locations and a greater
willingness to abandon easily replaced items with increasing residential mobility.
Mobile groups have "an intrinsically opportunistic and flexible worldview, or
foraging ethos", seeing "virtually all elements of the environment" including food
and material goods from surrounding groups "as potentially exploitable resources"
(Nunley 1991, p. 341). For example, the mobile Yavapai and Western Apache in
central Arizona took inventive and expedient approaches to all of their domestic
equipment, including cooking and storage containers, extensively reusing and
recycling prehistoric artifacts and Euroamerican objects in the nineteenth and early
twentieth century (Whittlesey et al. 1997). Although use, reuse, and recycling of
prehistoric and manufactured items is practiced by modern sedentary agriculturalists
as well (e.g., Deal 1998), these habits are seen in the Yavapai and Western Apache
archaeological record alongside overall "low frequency and diversity of material
culture" (Whittlesey et al. 1997, p. 211).
These differences in material culture management affect vessel acquisition as well
as use. Some mobile groups probably owned small and highly variable vessel
assemblages, perhaps dominated by vessels manufactured by their sedentary
neighbors. Their archaeological sites should frequently contain ceramics that were
obtained through exchange, if these mobile groups had regular friendly interactions
with their neighbors. Because high residential mobility structures use, transport, and
storage, the techno-function of discarded vessels (rather than their place of
manufacture) will help us place individual sites within a broader settlement system
and in that way link these sites to particular groups. Unfortunately in at least some
regions, such as the Western Papagueria as discussed above, data collection and
reporting currently prioritize ceramic ware and type over the variables needed to
assess techno-function, such as vessel form and size.
This paper by no means argues that mobile groups did not routinely make ceramic
vessels, a notion that has been well dispelled by the literature cited throughout this

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Residential Mobility and Ceramic Exchange 347

paper, or that mobile groups were necessarily dependent upon their neighbors to
complete their vessel assemblages. Compositional studies have established local
ceramic manufacture by mobile groups in the Great Basin (Eerkens et al. 2002) as
well as the Western Papagueria (Beck and Neff 2007), and in the Great Basin local
production accounts for the vast majority of ceramics. Neither does this paper insist
that trade and interaction are the only possible explanation for nonlocal ceramics
found in the territories of mobile groups. Carter and Sullivan (2007, p. 157) reject
such an explanation for the Upper Basin in northern Arizona, noting that "it is
presently unclear what commodities or artifacts Upper Basin groups could have
produced and exchanged for non-local materials or ceramics made elsewhere." They
instead support the migration of small groups bringing nonlocal vessels into the
region, as suggested by other lines of archaeological evidence.
The question remains: If a mobile group could get needed ceramics from an
exchange partner, why would it develop its own ceramic tradition? The ethnographic
and historical data presented here do not suggest a techno-functional explanation;
there is no evidence that hunter-gatherers consistently prefer vessels of their own
design due to unique vessel functions or transport costs. Although stone boiling may
be better performed using thick fiber-tempered vessels, boiling over direct heat is the
most commonly performed function for vessels used by mobile groups. Transport
costs can be reduced or avoided in multiple ways; making vessels that are easier to
carry is only one strategy.
Motives to develop or not develop an independent ceramic tradition undoubtedly
varied from case to case, but social factors and supply issues may often have played
a significant role. Vessel acquisition choices have implications for economic
autonomy, the maintenance of cultural identity, and the nature and health of internal
and external social networks. Although ceramics are clumsy indicators of the
complicated social and economic relationships we see in the ethnographic present,
they still provide an important window into prehistoric regional interactions.

Acknowledgments I am indebted to the editors, Catherine Cameron and James Skibo, for all of their
assistance, encouragement, and patience with this manuscript. The article has been greatly improved by
their detailed feedback and by comments and suggestions from Rebecca Dean, Karen Harry, Judith
Habicht-Mauche, Matthew E. Hill, Jr., Katina Lillios, Barbara Mills, and an anonymous reviewer. Thanks
are also owed to Jeff Altschul, with whom I had many conversations about the Papagueria case study and
who provided the opportunity to work on those materials while at Statistical Research, Inc. Of course, any
remaining shortcomings or omissions in the paper are my responsibility.

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