A Guide to Ceramics from Spanish Colonial Sites in Texas




Fox, Anne A.
Ulrich, Kristi M.

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Center for Archaeological Research, The University of Texas at San Antonio


AUTHORS’ PREFACE: The descriptions of ceramic types in this publication are compiled primarily as an aid to archaeologists working at missions and presidios in Texas, though it will also help those investigating town and ranch sites occupied during the eighteenth century. It was written with the help of numerous site reports done by archaeologists throughout the twentieth century who have valiantly wrestled with the problems of type identification and dating. The senior author has had the privilege of working with many of them throughout this period, and has developed an intense interest in ceramic identification. Additional help has come from researchers who have created and refined the ceramic typology over the years, from John Goggin in 1968 to Kathleen Deagan in 1987. The research of Florence and Robert Lister (1974, 1975, 1976a, 1976b, 1978) has contributed priceless information on the identification and origins of majolicas. Researchers working on Spanish colonial sites in Texas become aware that there are ceramic types that Goggin or Deagan do not describe. This is partly because the authors did not have access to Texas collections (Goggin 1968:81–83) or were limiting their typologies to the Caribbean area (Deagan 1987). At first, we avoided the problem by designating types with no known names as “Type A, Type B, etc.” The senior author has taken her courage in both hands and started to use descriptive names, especially for the coarse wares that have generally been ignored (see Fox 2002:203–219; Gilmore 1974:55–69) as well as the majolicas found on Texas sites that existed into the nineteenth century. This has also increased our appreciation of the work of archaeologists working in California and Arizona, whose Spanish sites lingered even later than those in Texas did. They also have been looking for ways to refer to the later types (see Barnes 1980:192–110; Barnes and May 1972; Cohen-Williams 1992:119–130; May 1975). The University of Texas at San Antonio Center for Archaeological Research (UTSA-CAR) is the curation facility for a large number of collections from Spanish colonial sites in Texas, which has facilitated the study necessary for producing this manuscript. The illustrations have drawn examples from these collections, plus a generous contribution from the large ceramic collection at Presidio La Bahía at Goliad. Much of the problem of identification is due to the small size of sherds recovered from most sites and, therefore, the difficulty of identifying types. Hopefully, these illustrations will help to fit a small sherd into the overall pattern of a type and from this to recognize comparative dating of deposits. This is a step in the development of Texas archaeologists’ ability to recognize and date ceramics from Spanish colonial sites. It is does not pretend to be the “be all and end all” on this subject. While primarily intended to be a manual for archaeologists working at Colonial sites in Texas, this publication will also serve as an introduction to Spanish colonial ceramics for those just beginning in historic archaeology in the state.



archaeological investigation, archaeology, Texas archaeology, Texas History, Spaniards--Texas--Antiquities, Excavations (Archaeology)--Texas, Texas--Antiquities