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Ancestral Pueblo mug
ca. AD 1200
Cliff Palace, Mesa Verde, Colorado
Clay, paint
13 x 9.5 x 10 cm
Hebert Bra Me Collection

Ancestral Pueblo pottery was built using thin coils of clay and smoothed probably using a gourd scraper. Beginning about AD 500, Ancestral Puebloans painted black designs on vessels; they added white slip as background by about AD 700. Utility ware was left unpainted. Hemispheric bowls and globular jars were the most common forms made.

Mugs are a hallmark of the Mesa Verde region, where they were made from about AD 1150 to 1300; only a few have been found at sites outside Mesa Verde and the northern San Juan River area. Mugs may have been personal artifacts. They have been recovered from burial contexts and found in household debris. Most have worn surfaces that suggest regular use. Some mugs fit more comfortably in either the right or left hand; each has a unique design.

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