Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Anthropology



First Committee Member

Karen G. Harry, Chair

Second Committee Member

Liam Frink

Third Committee Member

Daniel Benyshek

Graduate Faculty Representative

Spence M. Steinberg

Number of Pages



The purpose of this study is to examine the technological properties of the three dominant temper types - olivine, sand, and sherd - used by the Virgin Branch Puebloan during the Pueblo II era (AD 1000-1500) to explain the high proportion of Moapa Gray Ware traded to the Moapa Valley at that time. The research is guided by the hypothesis that olivine tempered pottery - or Moapa Gray Ware - possessed superior technological qualities than locally made wares, and that these qualities fueled the demand of Moapa Gray Ware ceramics.

This thesis evaluates one possibility for explaining the transportation of Moapa Gray Ware vessels in high quantities across the rugged terrain of the Grand Canyon by asking the question, does olivine temper result in technologically superior ceramic vessels, and if so, would this difference be distinct enough to have been noticed by prehistoric potters? Experimental archaeology was used to evaluate the thermal shock resistance, strength, and heat transference of this unique tempering material - olivine - against two other locally available tempers - sand and sherd.


Ceramics; Firing (Ceramics); Moapa Gray Ware; Nevada – Moapa Valley; Olivine; Pueblo pottery; Puebloan; Sand; Tempering; Virgin Branch Puebloan


Archaeological Anthropology | Ceramic Materials | Materials Science and Engineering

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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