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Field Division of Education
Tuzigoot - The Excavation and Repair of a Ruin on the Verde River near Clarkdale, Arizona
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Like other Southwestern prehistoric peoples the in habitants of Tuzigoot had additional objects of burned clay besides their household and ceremonial pottery. Bird, animal and human figurines similar to those of the Prescott region. were found here, as well as spindle whorls, worked sherds and miniature pottery vessels. All were crudely molded by hand and roughly finished. They were all found in the debris on the sides of the hill except one which was found in a room.

The paste of the clay objects, excepting the worked sherds, is not similar to any of the pottery types found at the ruin. It seems to have been made up of the ordinary dirt found around the hill with no attempt at making a pottery paste. Several specimens contain sand tempering while others do not contain any visible tempering. One human effigy had as tempering material minute snail shells usually found in debris piles around ruins. The firing must have. been done in an open fire because of the uneveness and underfiring shown by the smoke blackened areas and the poor quality of the finished specimen.



A. Human

B. Animal

C. Bird

A. Drilled

B. Undrilled

I. EFFIGIES. These were made by hand from strips of clay and shaped by pinching and squeezing with the fingers end are extremely conventionalized in form.

A. Human Effigies (Fig. 9). The few specimens of these that were found fall into one group with slight exception. The main features are the slim limbless bodies, flat heads, concave behind and the pinched noses. Only three show bases two slightly bulged to form the base, while the third is straight.

Fig. 9. Human effigy, front and side views (full size).

The head of one human effigy shows slits for eyes and a hole punched for the mouth. The nose is broken off, but the chin remains and is very prominent. The cheeks show considerable red paint applied as a wash and fired on. Another feature seemingly characteristic of these human effigies is the portrayal of female breasts. Three of those found show this feature. The breasts on one were made separately and applied singly to the torso.

B. Animal (Plate XV, A). The animal effigies show considerably more attempt on the part of the makers to reproduce all parts of the body. The legs, tails and heads are all crude and out of proportion in relation to the round bodies. No attempt was made to show the feet of the animals and in only one case is the mouth distinguishable. It is impossible to recognize or identify the animals which were being copied. All have stubby tails pointing up as though the dog was the subject of reproduction.

Plate XV. A (top left). Clay animal effigies. B (top right). Worked potsherd. C (bottom left). Toy pottery vessels. D (bottom right). Spindle whorls.

The process of making these round bodied animal effigies was first to make the body with a tail and neck on either end. The legs and ears were made separately and stuck on. The incisions for the mouth and eyes were made after which the crude effigy was fired.

C. Bird. Only two bird effigies were found, but fortunately these are both complete. One is of the spread wing variety (Fig. 10) and the other of the folded wing.

Fig, 10. Clay bird effigy with spread wings.

The spread wing bird effigy is an exceptionally well made specimen, and probably was meant to represent a duck or goose in flight. The wings and tail show feather and quill impressions where feathers were stuck into the clay to further make the effigy more realistic. The charred remains of the quills are still in their sockets. In the center of the back is a small bump of clay with a hole through the center and what seems to be the remains of charred cord in it. This portrays that when the effigy was being used it was hung, by a piece of string and represented a bird in flight. The bottom of this bird is rounded and cannot be made to set up. The specimen was found in the firepit of one of the rooms and was the only effigy to be found in a room.

The folded wing effigy is very crudely made with no indications of features. A few finger nail marks on one side may have been meant to represent the wings.

II. SPINDLE WHORLS. These clay objects (Plate XV, D) have been called various names by archaeologists, but now it is mainly agreed that they are spindle whorls. They are fairly uniform in size and weight and were made around small straight sticks. Had they been intended for ear plugs they would vary considerably in size.

III. WORKED POTSHERDS. The total number of worked potsherds (Plate XV, B) which were used as weights on drill sticks, seems very small when compared to the number found in other ruins. Perhaps this was due to many being taken away or traded, or perhaps they were only made of pottery during the earlier periods in which the pueblo was occupied and later made of wood. This thought is further carried out when the types of pottery from which they were made is considered. There were sherds from Pueblo I, II and III, but none from Pueblo IV used. Such types as Walnut Black-on-white, Tuzigoot Black-on-white, Tusayan Black-on-red, Tusayan Polychrome, Kana-a Black-on-white, Prescott Black-on-grey and plain wares of the Verde Valley.

All of the worked sherds found were round in shape. Of the undrilled ones some were smoothed off on the edges while others were left rough. The process of drilling was to work from both sides until they met in the center of the sherd. In several of those drilled there is a circular line on the inside or concave surface of the sherd quite far from the hole. This was probably made during the process of drilling by the drill mount which brings up the question of how the drill points were mounted, however, due to lack of evidence this cannot be settled.

Round perforated objects of this type usually are identified as spindle whorls. Those with large holes were probably used in that capacity, but what use the others were put to is not known.

IV. MINIATURE VESSELS. Of the twenty eight miniature vessels (Plate XV, C) found there are a great variety of shapes and sizes. They include ollas, bowls, ladles, prayer stick holders and a few problematical objects and range in size from 1/2 inch to 2-1/4 inches in diameter.

Plate XV, C shows the following:— (a) ladle, (b) bowl, (c) prayer stick holder, (d) problematical object (perhaps a paddle), (e) olla and (f) a two compartment vessel.

The miniature vessels came only from rubbish and were almost always in a deplorably broken condition. Of those found only two are without some break or missing piece. They were not polished or smoothly finished, but were fired without any slip or surface finish. Nor were there any found showing painted decorations.


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