Ancient Cultures of the Southwest

Content and design by Dr. Chris Henige, Art Department, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater

The Logan Museum of Anthropology at Beloit College in Beloit, Wisconsin, is fortunate to possess a superb collection of artifacts from the ancient Southwest. The vast majority were collected during excavations undertaken by the Museum in the 1930s under the direction of Paul Nesbitt. From 1929 to 1931, field work was done at the Mattocks Ruin in the Mimbres Valley of New Mexico resulting in an extensive collection of pottery and other artifacts from the Mimbres people. From 1931 to 1939 focus shifted to another group of Mogollon sites in the Reserve area of New Mexico. Work at the main site, the Starkweather Ruin, was supplemented by exploratory digs at the Hudson and Wheatley Ridge Ruins. These sites yielded a large number of Mogollon artifacts of all types. To these were added extensive surface sherd collections from important sites all over the Southwest.

The wealth of treasures recovered from these sites enabled the Logan Museum to exchange some artifacts with other institutions. Through these exchanges, the Museum was able to obtain representative samples from the majority of Southwestern peoples. Particularly important was the 1939 exchange with the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, through which the Logan Museum acquired vessels representing 14 different ceramic types.

A significant number of artifacts came to the museum through the generosity of private patrons and close friends of Beloit College. The collections of Horatio N. Rust, Herbert S. and Sonia Bleeker Zim, and Stephen Denison Peet form the core of the New World collections at the Logan Museum, and have added substantially to the Museum’s Southwestern holdings. Additional gifts from E.R. Stafford, the Gila Pueblo and the Laboratory of Anthropology helped consolidate the Museum’s collection of Hohokam artifacts. Subsequent small donations have given even greater diversity to the collections, and today virtually every important Southwestern ceramic type is represented.

It was only during a recent project to exhibit these collections on the Internet that the diversity of the Logan Museum collections was fully recognized. During my preparatory research for the web site it became apparent that there were no complete and up-to-date resources to which one could turn for the identification of ancient Southwestern ceramic types. It was clear to me that the Logan Museum’s collections of ancient Southwestern artifacts presented the perfect opportunity to fill this void in the literature. The purpose of this web site is thus twofold. First and foremost, it is to create a source of information on pottery types and other artifacts which can be referenced by both scholar and layperson alike. Second, it is to bring these invaluable remnants of the artistic ingenuity of the ancient peoples of the Southwest back into the public eye.

This project would not have been possible without the continuing support of the administration of Beloit College, who recognize its potential and provide me with the opportunity to visit as often as is necessary to bring the project to its fruition.


Anasazi :: Mogollon :: Mimbres :: Casas Grandes :: Salado :: Hohokam :: Sinagua :: Patayan

Pottery Making

Techniques :: Vessel Forms :: Surface Treatment :: Painted Pottery :: Firing Pottery :: Painting Styles

Reference Tools

Checklist of Pottery Types :: Index of Pottery Types :: Sources

Logan Museum Excavations

Wheatley Ridge