The enchanting pottery created by the Mimbres people of southwestern New Mexico is considered by many scholars to be unique among all the ancient art traditions of North America. Distinguished by their elaborate hand-painted black-on-white designs, Mimbres vessels have inspired artists and collectors, and many insist that they are unrivaled in several millennia of pottery making. While the attention to the extraordinary Mimbres painted pottery is well merited, the focus on its artistry alone has obscured other equally remarkable achievements and compelling questions about this unique and sophisticated society. Was the society as truly egalitarian as it has often been suggested? Was the pottery produced by specialists? How did Mimbres architecture, mong the first to break living spaces into apartment-style room blocks?reflect the relationships among individuals, families, and communities? Did aggregate housing units translate into social equality, or did subtle hierarchies exist?
Tracing the way technology evolved in ceramic decoration, architecture, and mortuary practices, this collection of eight original contributions brings new insights into previously unexplored dimensions of Mimbres society. The contributors also provide vivid examples of how today's archaeologists are linking field data to social theory.
Valli S. Powell-Marti currently is a lecturer in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Oklahoma, where she earned her PhD. She recently retired from the Oklahoma Department of Transportation after years of archaeological work there. Patricia A. Gilman is an associate professor and chair in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Oklahoma.