The Journal of San Diego History
Summer 1983, Volume 29, Number 3
Thomas L. Scharf, Editor

San Diego Mesa College

Images from the article

In 1976, excavations conducted by San Diego State University in the Chapel Complex of the Royal Presidio of San Diego were completed and a new project was begun by Mesa College. The new excavation zone is west of the chapel site and was selected because it seemed probable that a depression between two mounds might be the original entrance or gateway to the Presidio complex. The project was called the Presidio Gateway Search Excavations and was divided into two sections: the architectural features east of the Marston wall (named for philanthropist George Marston who preserved the site, the wall marks the supposed perimeters of the original Presidio) which includes the two mounds and the depression between them, and the extensive midden or stratified trash deposit west of the architectural area. Data for this analysis were recovered from the midden area.

The trash midden has been excavated to a depth of 435 cm. (fourteen feet in one unit) and thousands of artifacts have been catalogued. Because of the mass of data, the San Diego Community College District granted funds for the computer analysis of the artifactual material excavated. This report is a preliminary analysis of one of more than a dozen categories of ceramics excavated and encoded from the trash midden zone, a ware called maiolica. A total of 5450 sherds of identifiable decorated maiolica are included in this analysis. Four thousand two hundred fifty-eight plain white maiolica sherds were also recovered. They are not included in this paper.

Maiolica is a glazed earthenware with an enamel opacified (usually white) by the addition of tin oxide to a lead glaze. The name is thought to have been derived from the Island of Palma de Mallorca (Maiorca) from which “Loza de Mallorca” (ceramic or pottery of Maiorca – “maiolica”) was imported to Italy. Various authors (Goggin, Plowden, Fairbanks, Caywood, May, and others) prefer the spelling “majolica” while others (the Listers, Hamer, Lane, and Whitehouse) use the spelling “maiolica.” Because the ware name is pronounced /mãi/ + /yó/ + /li/ + /ka/ the “maiolica” spelling is preferred, and the mispronunciation, using the Spanish “j” is avoided.

Hamer refines the distinction between “maiolica” and “majolica” by defining “majolica” as a late nineteenth century English ware with shiny, colorful glazes distinct from tin-glazed maiolica (1975:193). “Maiolica” isdefined as the fifteenth century lustered Spanish ware imported to Italy from Maiorca. The name, at first, referred only to the lustered ware (produced in Moorish Spain as an alternative to precious metalware) but later embraced all tin-glazed wares. It is now used in this broad sense (Hamer 1975:191).

The decoration of maiolica is accomplished by using coloring oxides to stain a glaze made creamy white by the addition of tin oxide (Hamer 1975:192). The traditional method uses a malm type clay (with a high proportion of calcium compounds) which is thrown, hand-built, or molded. The ware is given a soft biscuit firing to enable the friable tin-opacified glaze to adhere. The unfired glaze surface is painted with metal oxides which sink into and stain the glaze during firing, and produce an inglaze decoration. A subsequent lustre firing may also be used (Hamer 1975:192-193). Cervantes describes the industry in Puebla, Mexico, in much the same way. He includes a “cook book” (1939:12) of the metal oxides used for the various colors of Mexican maiolica. Maiolica has become the most useful historical tool of all Spanish Colonial ceramics because it is “the most sensitive to cultural change and apparently the most universally distributed” of colonial sites (Goggin 1968:121).

The history and subsequent diffusion of maiolica began in the Mediterranean. In the fourth millennium B.C., Egyptians were using a true alkaline glaze stained with the addition of metal oxides, but this method was discarded by Islamic potters in favor of glazes fluxed with lead. China enjoyed an immense artistic prestige in Islam during the early Middle Ages, and with the arrival of Chinese stoneware and porcelain in the Near East, potters sought to imitate the appearance of white porcelain. Tin oxide was the technical solution. By A.D. 836-883, Islamic potters at Samarra were adding tin oxide to lead to produce a glazed painted ware which was an imitation of the cream-colored Chinese T’ang ware (Lane 1948:3,11). Baghdad potters could make good tin-glazed ware by the ninth century. But it was not until the fifteenth century that a comparable ware was produced in Christian Europe where, under the names of maiolica, delft, or faience, it remained one of the finest forms of pottery for more than two centuries. As Lane notes (1948:47), “This technique was a direct legacy of Islam, passed on through Moorish Spain” and Sicily. Sicilian Moslems manufactured maiolica in the first half of the thirteenth century, and the technique spread rapidly in Italy (Whitehouse 1978:48-49).

The New Christians (Anabaptists or Haban) learned the maiolica art form as apprentices to Italian mastercraftsmen imported to the court of King Maithias in Buda in the fifteenth century. Anabaptists subsequently fleeing the counter-Reformation in Italy reintroduced the technique to the countries that sheltered them. In Hungary the rediscovered ware was a maiolica with a decorative style reminiscent of Islamic ware (Krisztinkovich 1962:5).

The maiolica industry also accompanied the Spanish conquest of the Caribbean from where it diffused south to Peru and north to Mexico. Maiolica travelled with Jesuit, Franciscan, soldier and settler. The study of maiolica is also the study of history.

There are numerous classificatory systems for the maiolica industry in the Americas. Lister and Lister (1974) identify five complexes in Colonial Spanish America: direct Spanish imports, a Mexican industry, and industries in Guatemala, Panama, and Peru. The Mexican industry is important as the source of maiolica excavated from the trash midden deposit at the Presidio. Edwin Atlee Barber (1909) divided the maiolica pottery production at Puebla de Los Angeles into four styles: Moresque (1575-1700), Spanish-Talavera Ware (1600-1780), Chinese (1650-1800), and Pueblan (1800-1860). Caywood (1950) distinguishes the ware by periods: 1600-1780, the Blue and White Talavera type which by 1650 introduces other colors (yellow, green, brown, and black) 1650-1800, the Chinese Blue Period; and 1800-1860 the Pueblan Period polychromes of Italian maiolists. Goggin’s (1968) system divides the production of maiolica into chronologic periods with the type names derived from various archaeological sites. May (1972, 1976, 1978) identifies four to six Puebla phases and an Aranama tradition following 1700. For this descriptive preliminary report, the classificatory I system is based on a description of types and their frequency of occurrence I at the excavation site; frequently, infrequently and rarely. The maiolica I analyzed here dates from approximately 1769-1830, the primary occupation 1 period of the Presidio of San Diego. The data show three overlapping trends; a Puebla Period (1690-1850) during which Puebla Blue-on-White | and San Elizario Polychrome are both in use at the same time, the former as i small bowls and the latter as large, all-purpose “stew” plates; a more ordinary, simple Puebla and Huejotzingo Green and Blue Phase (1700-1800); and an Aranama (polychrome) Tradition (1700-1860) which can be divided into early and late components. All known wares were Mexican imports originally. This does not exclude the possibility of trade between various missions or presidios of the ware after its arrival (i.e., Tumacacori, Tucson, or Quiburi settlements).

Description of Types From the
Gateway Search Midden Excavation

The ware types were divided into three groups based on the frequency of their occurrence among the total number of decorated identifiable sherds; those frequently found (20%-30%), those infrequently found (>1.42 % < 3.0%) and those rarely found (less than 1.0%). Each ware type is followed by a code designation in parenthesis (01 through 27, Table I). This code was used to identify the twenty-seven ware types for a computer program. Mexican polychrome (19) has been omitted from the analysis at this time due to difficulties in clearly defining the type (May 1974, Lister and Lister 1976).

The preliminary nature of this analysis is emphasized because although horizontal distribution has been sampled adequately, vertical (stratigraphic) testing has been limited to one unit (QR-21). Two additional units (WX-24 and OP-21) will be completed during the current field season and will provide confirmation of the representative vertical frequencies of types.


Puebla Blue-on-White, 1690 – present (01)

Method: wheel-thrown; stacked on stilts in the saggars for firing; scars are visible on the interior and exterior reflecting a common grade of ware; no tempering, compact texture; hardness of paste 1.5, of enamel 6.5 (Goggin 1968:190). Blue color from cobalt oxide fluxes with iron or manganese oxides; low temperature fire 700°C – 1000°C.

Decoration: light blue band or bands sometimes accompanied by dark blue dots or lines. The dark blue is often very brilliant and may be slightly raised. There is no organized central medallion or rim panel. Bands often extend on both sides of the rim. Goggin (1968:191) believes this is the same tradition as San Elizario Polychrome (following).

Form: At the Gateway Search midden, Puebla Blue-on-White is represented primarily by small bowls and also by cups with thin walls and some plates; the bowls have a Chinese look (Barber 1909).

Frequency: 22.23% (2158 sherds).

Comments: California range is San Diego de Alcalá, San Diego Presidio-Chapel Excavation, La Purísima Concepción, San Carlos Borromeo, Monterey Presidio, Santa Barbara Soledad, Buenaventura, and throughout the Southwest, Caribbean, Florida, and Alabama. Type site is Puebla, Mexico. A variant is Puebla Green-on-White (09, 1780-1800, see Huejotzingo Blue-on-White, below). This variant replaces blue with large yellow bands and dark green dots. There are 83 sherds of this type representing 0.855% of the total excavated in the midden. The variant is overwhelmingly represented in one unit (WX-24) which also contains a higher than usual frequency of Monterey Polychrome and Ventura Polychrome (see below for descriptions). In unit WX-24 this variant is 22.7% of the total maiolica (Tepner 1981:2).

San Elizario Polychrome, 1750-1850 (02)

Method: See Puebla Blue-on-White; manganese oxide for the coffee-colored bands.

Decoration: Similar to Puebla Blue-on-White but with one or two thin black or coffee-brown bands outlining one wide blue band on the rim. From these lines is a pendant border of dots of various sizes. The central medallion motif is a large deer or bird-like creature painted in blue which may b ac cented in black or brown. The exterior of the plate is undecorated.

From: San Elizario Polychrome is represented at the Gateway Search midden by large, deep plates with thicker walls than those of Puebla Blue-on-White bowls.

Frequency: 20% (1899 sherds)

Comments: Same range as Puebla Blue-on-White; identified by Gerald

(1968:45) as distinct from Puebla Blue-on-White, a variant may be unknown 1(21) described below.


Wavy Rim Blue-on-White, 1700-1800 (04)

Method: Same as Puebla Blue-on-White.

Decoration: A band in various shades of blue covering the lip and rim The inside pattern is scalloped with varying degrees of arch from soft undulant wave to deep, nearly semi-circular scallops. The color often fades to shades of lighter blue toward the lower or upper edge of the scallop (Storlazzi1978:2; Filler1982).

Form: Wavy rim Blue-on-White is represented by plates and bowls.

Frequency: 2.998% (281 sherds).

Comments: Described by Barnes and May (1972), the type may be a variant of Huejotzingo Blue-on-White for which it may easily be mistaken. There is a green variant of this maiolica type called Wavy Rim Green-on-White (17, 1780-1800) which is represented by eight sherds.

Monterey Polychrome, 1750-1850 (05)

Method: Same as Puebla Blue-on-White, paste hardness about 2, yellow from antimony oxide.

Decoration: Orange rim band outlined in black or brown below which are orange and yellow flower designs. Long, green sprays of a leaf-like motif separate the floral design. A second orange band may lie below this design and frame a central motif on the medallion (May 1972:36).

Form: Monterey Polychrome is represented by large, deep plates.

Frequency: 2.6% (252 sherds).

Comments: One of several polychromes belonging to May’s Aranama Tradition (1972:34) and Goggin’s Aranama Polychrome (1968:146). They have in common an orange rim band accented with brownish-black lines and utilizing very little blue. May includes Quiburi, San Diego Polychrome, Monterey Polychrome, Orangeline Polychrome and Tucson Polychrome in the Aranama tradition.

San Diego Polychrome, 1700-1800 (06)

Method: Like Puebla Blue-on-White; colors from many metal oxides; cobalt (blue), antimony (yellow), chromium (orange), copper (green), iron and manganese (brown-black, coffee).

Decoration: Characterized by a lavish use of black accent lines which encircle and connect yellow, green and orange dots and occasinally blue dots, floral and fruit-like elements occur (May 1972:35-36). The wide orange band on the interior rim is outlined by two heavy black lines. The central motif repeats the black-edged, semi-circular designs like those found on the body. The image is of an extremely busy pattern with very little white.

Form: At the Gateway Search Midden, San Diego Polychrome is represented by large, deep plates and bowls.

Frequency: 2.05% (199 sherds).

Comments: There is one variant of this ware type from the midden. Called San Diego Polychrome with Yellow (13; for reasons which are unclear to me), the type features a blue rim band instead of the orange one. This type is represented by four sherds.

Huejotzingo Blue-on-White, 1700-present (03)

Method: Same as Puebla Blue-on-White.

Decoration: A single blue line in various shades outlining the rim and lip inside and out.

Form: Huejotzingo Blue-on-White is represented by plates and bowls.

Frequency: 1.61% (156 sherds).

Comments: Undoubtedly part of the Puebla tradition and easily confused with Wavy Rim Blue-on-White fragments; this is regarded as a “cheap variety of Puebla Blue-on-White which lacks all decoration but the rim band” (Gerald, quoted in May 1972:32). There are two variants of this type from the Presidio Gateway Search Midden; Huejotzingo Green-on-White (15; 1700-1800; 12 sherds) and Huejotzingo Yellow-on-White (18; 1700-1800; 1 sherd). May (1972:33) regards these as unsuccessful efforts by Puebla potters to compete with European imports.

San Agustín Blue-on-White, 1700-1780 (07)

Method: Wheel-thrown, firing scars, hardness of paste is 1.5, and enamel is about 6.5. See Puebla Blue-on-White; cobalt oxide with additions for the range of blues found.

Decoration: Painted in two or more shades of blue with dark blue more prominent and bold. The white background is chalky, clear and clean. The patterns are floral swirls and dots; space is filled with dots and hatches so it looks almost like a blue plate with white relief (Goggin 1968:188).

Form: San Agustín Blue-on-White is represented by plates and bowls at the excavation site. The rim is often pinched and folded or “gadrooned” (May 1972:31).

Frequency: 1.42% (138 sherds).

Comments: This ware type was probably manufactured in Puebla, but it is named after a number of colonial sites in St. Augustine, Florida. The ware type is alternately called San Agustine Blue-on-White.


The green varieties of Puebla Blue-on-White, Huejotzingo and Wavy Rim have been discussed above as has the blue-rimmed San Diego Polychrome. The remaining maiolica ware types comprise less than 1.0% of the total decorated sherds. The largest number excavated are seven unknown types, followed by Orange-line Polychrome, Quiburi Polychrome, Ventura Polychrome, Tumacacori Polychrome, and Tucson Polychrome.

Orangeline Polychrome, 1800-1850 (08)

Method: See Puebla Blue-on-White: copper oxide imparts the green color, chromium oxide the orange (possibly).

Decoration: Very much like the San Elizario Polychrome with the exception of the color of the rim band which is orange and accented with brownish-black lines. Below the band are a series of green dots separated by pendant green floral motifs (May 1972:36). Orangeline Polychrome and Monterey Poly-chrome can be difficult to distinguish when the sherd is a small rim fragment.

Form: At the Gateway Search midden, Orangeline Polychrome is represent-ed by large, deep plates.

Frequency: 0.46% (45 sherds).

Comments: This may be a variant of San Elizario Polychrome, but our sample lacks the medallion motif that would support this conclusion. May (1972:36) includes Orangeline Polychrome in his Aranama Tradition (See Monterey Polychrome, below). Unknown #1: (code 21)

The distinctive feature of these sixteen sherds is that the decoration is the same as San Elizario Polychrome, but they lack the dark accent lines so characteristic of the type. The name San Elizario Monochrome Blue is suggested for this variant (Storlazzi 1978; Tepner 1982; and Feller 1982). Unknown # 2: (22)

This unknown is identical to Puebla Blue-on-White in shape and appearance, but the decoration is in polychrome of blue and green on white. A soft moss green replaces the dark blue of the standard Puebla Blue-on-White. There are nine sherds of this type from the Gateway Search midden. This is certainly a variant of the main tradition and may be part of the “green phase” May has defined. The name Puebla Blue and Green Polychrome is suggested for this variant (Storlazzi 1978; Tepner 1982; and Feller 1982). Unknown # 3:(23)

Painted in black and green on a yellow enameled background, this polychrome probably employs other colors as well. The six sherds recovered are thick, almost crude for maiolica, and the shapes probably include cups as well as bowls and plates. Designs include small black dots, larger black splotches and olive green lines on a citron yellow background (Tepner 1982;

Feller 1982). No name is suggested for the type at this time. It may be related to San Diego Polychrome, but further comparative information is needed. Unknown #4: (24)

The sample consists of sixty sherds of a fine, delicate, and thin-lipped bowl similar to Puebla Blue-on-White. The exterior decoration consists of large floral motifs formed by three large dark-brown teardrops highlighted with dark blue splotches. The floral patterns are separated by vertical rows of smaller brown flower chains which extend from rim to base (Tepner 1982; Feller 1982). The name Mesa Gateway Polychrome is suggested for this type. Unknown # 5: (25)

This “type” is represented by two brass-orange, stippled rim bands with light blue below it. No pattern can be recognized and no name is currently suggested pending additional examples. Unknown # 6:(26)

Constituting eight sherds, this polychrome is probably part of the Puebla Blue-on-White type with San Elizario Polychrome medallion figures. Two parallel thin light-brown rim bands below which are dark blue floral patterns separated by elongated and raised brown ovals distinguish this type. The flowers and ovals are accented by thin, swirling light-brown lines. Base sherds indicate an animal or bird medallion motif not unlike that of San Elizario Polychrome. These sherds provide a link between Puebla Blue-on-White and San Elizario Polychrome by combining features of each. It is suggested that unknown #6 be classified with Puebla Blue-on-White as a Puebla Blue and Brown Polychrome (Tepner 1982; Feller 1982). Unknown # 7: (27)

Three sherds with a light olive band which lacks outlining; there is a white space between band and top of rim like other ware types. Two tiny, narrow lines in the same color run beneath the light olive-green band. It could be an example of a green, San Elizario monochrome. But on the basis of small fragments, no type designation is suggested.

Quiburi Polychrome, 1770-1800 (10)

Method: Typical maiolica method of manufacture with many metal oxides for colors (See San Diego Polychrome).

Decoration: A series of floral elements that hang from a yellow or orange rimband which is outlined in black. The medallion design is of a portly “eunuch-like figure wearing a turban and Zuave (striped, full pants) trousers” (Goggin 1968:197; Di Peso 1953). Small dots of blue may also be present.

Form: Quiburi Polychrome is represented by plates.

Frequency: 0.39% (38 sherds).

Comments: These are among the earliest maiolica types recovered which reflect either contact with the Sobaipuri at Quiburi, Arizona, sometime between 1769 and 1789 when Quiburi was abandoned, early provisioning at San Diego or contact with the Tucson Presidio which was established in 1772 and where the ware type was also found.

Ventura Polychrome, 1820-1850 (12)

Method: See Puebla Blue-on-White and San Diego Polychrome.

Decoration: Two thin wavy green and black braided lines on an often gadrooned lip (like San Agustín) with a light green floral pattern or dots; birds or lizards may also occur (May 1976). May calls this a “fine” ware but our samples show the external scars associated with the practice of firing common grades of maiolica in stacked saggars in a kiln. The Gateway sample bird is very dark green and accented with dark-brown lines.

Form: large, deep plates.

Frequency: 0.196% (19 sherds).

Tumacacori Polychrome III, 1820-1860 (14)

Method: Exceptional and technically similar to unknown #3 above, the color blue (cobalt metal oxide) is added to the tin glaze before the design elements are added, producing a blue instead of white background.

Decoration: Polychrome, delicate floral designs in green, dark blue, and orange with brown accent lines and dots on a pale blue background (Barnes 1972:11).

Form: cups and plates.

Frequency: 0.15% (15 sherds).

Comments: May (1976:225) notes that this ware is common in nineteenth century sites. It is thought to be a fine grade ware and a potter’s copy of European delftware which has a light blue background.

Tucson Polychrome, 1820-1850 (11)

Method: as above for San Diego Polychrome.

Decoration: The type has two thin dark brown lines which outline an orange rim band. The body contains yellow floral and green shrub-like designs. It is distinguished from Monterey Polychrome which has green sprays in a lighter green color. Tucson Polychrome has dark green color with dark brown accent lines. This one could easily be mistaken for Orangeline Polychrome, depending on the sherd size.

Form: plates.

Frequency: 0.31% (30 sherds).

Undecorated White Tin-Glazed Earthenware (20)

The category contains tiny fragments (4258 sherds) of undecorated unidentifiable maiolica body and base sherds. Because most maiolica rims have relatively identifiable features the sample probably represents the undecorated areas of San Elizario Polychrome, the various Wavy Rim wares or Huejotzingo types. Several undecorated plain white rim and body sherds of small thin-walled cups (Amarillo White) are the exception.

Frequency of Types and Shapes and Some Preliminary Data on Depth of Deposit and Associated Ware Types

Analysis of ware types and associated vessel shapes shows that for all identifiable ware types, bowls and plates dominate. Puebla Green-on-White (09) is overwhelmingly represented by bowls as is Puebla Blue-on-White and Unknown #1 (“San Elizario Monochrome Blue”). Puebla Blue-on-White is the primary tradition and “San Elizario Monochrome Blue” may be a bowl variant of the more frequently found San Elizario Polychrome plates (Goggin regards San Elizario Polychrome as a late part of the Puebla Tradition). Plates occur most frequently in San Elizario Polychrome, Huejotzingo Blue-on-White, Wavy Rim Blue-on-White, Monterey Polychrome, San Diego Polychrome, San Agustín Blue-on-White, Orangeline Polychrome, Quiburi Polychrome, Tucson Polychrome, Ventura Polychrome, San Diego Polychrome with Yellow, Huejotzingo Green-on-White, and San Elizario Polychrome. Shape identifications for the unknowns are not clear with the exception of “Mesa Gateway Polychrome” (24) which seems to be most like Puebla Blue-on-White bowls (01). White Tin-Glazed Earthenware (20) consists primarily of bowl and plate fragments, but the percentage of cup fragments (12 %) is interesting. Tin-glazed earthenware in a plain white variety was in use. Rim fragments attest to its presence as small, thin-walled cups (Amarillo White). Without significant rim portions, this type cannot be distinguished from undecorated body and base fragments of other maiolica types. Further analysis is needed to clearly distinguish this type (Amarillo White) and its shape at the Gateway Search project.

Analysis  by depth is incomplete. There is a concentration of sherds at 120-150 cm and from a depth of 330-360 cm in QR-21 which was excavated to sterile soil. The last three sherds of maiolica recovered were San Elizario Polychrome, Puebla Blue-on-White and White Tin-Glazed Earthenware. The heavy concentrations of San Elizario Polychrome in 0-24 cm were not main-tained and Puebla Blue-on-White surpassed it in frequency as did the variety of other types. The late wares (1820-1850) do not occur deeper than 60-70 cm. Solitary exceptions exist (one Quiburi sherd at 106-116 cm), but this may be attributed to rodent activity. In order to compare data on depth of deposit and on associated ware types by unit, it will be necessary to correct statistically for the steep slope of the midden deposit and earth (and artifact) slippage through time. A columnar sample corrected to depth for each comparable unit of the ten excavated will permit meaningful conclusions. This facet of the analysis will be completed soon.


In 1976 students began analyzing the maiolica sherds. Initial type identifications were made by Gia Storlazzi with the assistance of Ron May. Subsequent analysis from 1977 to the present was done by Marsha Tepner, Michelle Feller, and Jean Andrew. A statistical research design was developed, and the San Diego Community College District granted funds, professional consultation, and computer time for artifactual analysis through 1984. Because the maiolica analysis which took six years (part-time) to complete by conventional methods was the first batch of data to be “machine ready,” a methodological validity test was done. With the exception of the professional statistician (and a vocational archaeologist), the rest of the team was computer-innocent and somewhat apprehensive. We compared our painstakingly derived data on frequency of type and associated vessel shapes, and type frequency and associations by depth in ten excavated units with the results obtained by the computer. It took minutes to get comparable figures. The same batch of data analyzed two different ways with one exception produced the same results. We are now confident about our programming technique and pleased at the speed in data retrieval (Anne Bogart, pers. comm.).

In addition to the maiolica, analysis is continuing on other recovered ceramics; Tonala Ware, Olive Jar, Galera, other Mexican Ceramics, Tizon Brown Ware, and other earthenwares; European (English and French), Asian (Chinese and Japanese), and American stoneware, ironstoneware and porcelain.

A definitive statement about the function of maiolica at the Presidio awaits further comparative data that the completion of the rest of the ceramic analysis will provide. However, the wares recovered would set a beautiful and colorful table even though they are a common grade maiolica. This seems to be a characteristic of the supply service from Mexico. Maiolica was not made locally but imported by ship or overland. Scholes (1930) study of the 1631 con-tract between the Franciscan Fray Manso and treasury officials regarding supply trains for New Mexican Missions identifies “one box of loza de Puebla” (maiolica) for each friar-priest, and it is included among items of clothing and materials destined for the infirmary (Scholes 1930;101). Maiolica was not part of the church inventory as such. In the frontier colonies, unlike in Mexico, maiolica was not a religious item but was exclusively a household item or one reserved for an infirmary (Scholes 1930; Barnes 1971). The thousands of identifiable sherds from the Gateway Search area compared with the less than 600 from the chapel area (May 1971; Storlazzi 1978) tends to confirm this observation.

Among the decorated sherds, Puebla Blue-on-White bowls and San Elizario Polychrome plates are the most common maiolica dishes in use. This is consistent with the two most common ware types found at the chapel excavations (May 1971; Storlazzi, pers. comm.). The period of the rarely found maiolica ranges from 1820-1850 with the exception of Quiburi ware. It seems reasonable to conclude that the primary presidial period was between 1769 (the founding date) and 1820-1830 based on the maiolica analysis. Historic documents confirm these dates (Paul Ezell, pers. comm.). Late period maiolica (Ventura Polychrome, Tumacacori Polychrome and Tucson Polychrome, 1820-1850) occurs more frequently in the midden deposit than at the chapel and may reflect a later occupation or use of the midden as a trash dump. There does not seem to be an economic difference between the two excavation zones reflected in the maiolica. The pending analysis of the Tizon Brown ware (a ware in common use borrowed from the Indians) may show such a difference however.

No complete vessels or restorable vessels were recovered in the midden excavation (we will try again however). The dominant impression of the condition of the maiolica is that it looks like it has been ground up. The sherds are small, chipped, and most show the fine-line cracking of repeatedly heated and cooled maiolica. Very few fragments are directly burned but many are associated with charcoal and ash lenses. As in any good midden, the remains of a fire hearth are dumped together with any broken pottery. Dayle Cheever (pers. comm.) reports a similar condition of the large mammal bone from the same zone. She is currently preparing the preliminary results of faunal analysis for submission to the Journal of San Diego History.

The maiolica analysis has expanded the number of types known and has tenatively suggested a new type designation, the “Mesa Gateway Polychrome” (code 24). We have also identified a medallion for San Diego Polychrome, unknown prior to this study (code 06). Historical analysis, functional interpretations, associated ceramics, and a suggestion for ceramic traditions and how they reflect lifeways at the Presidio await our further studies.


My appreciation goes to Mesa College, the San Diego History Center, the Park and Recreation Department and the Community College Board of Trustees. Personal and special thanks are given to a formidable array of Mesa students over the last six years, but especially to Dayle Cheever, Marsha Tepner, Michelle Feller, Gia Storlazzi, Mary Robbins, Greg Baker, Jean An-drew, and Al Sullivan. I appreciate the pen of Phil Wilke, University of California, Riverside, whose help, suggestions, and due-date facilitated the completion of this paper.



Arthur, Don, Julia Costello, and Brian Fagan, 1975

A Preliminary Account of Majolica Sherds from the Chapel Site, Royal Spanish Presidio, Santa Barbara, California. The Kiva 41(2): 207-214.

Barber, Edwin Atlee, 1909

The Pottery and Porcelain of the United States: An Historical Review of American Ceramic Art from Earliest Times to the Present Day, to which is appended a Chapter on Pottery of Mexico. 3rd Edition (Limited). Combined with Marks of American Potters. New York: Feingold and Lewis.

Barnes, Mark, 1971

Majolica from Excavations at San Xavier del Bac, 1968-1969. The Kiva 37( l):61-64.

Barnes, Mark R., 1972

Majolica of the Santa Cruz Valley, Arizona. In: Mexican Majolica in Northern New Spain, pp. 1-23. Pacific Coast Archaeological Society Occasional Paper Number 2.

Bogart, Ann (pers. comm.: Gateway Computer Programer), 1982

Caywood, Louis R., 1950

Hispanic Pottery as a Guide in Historical Studies. In: For the Dean: Essays in Anthropology in Honor of Byron Cummings on his Eighty-ninth Birth-day, September 20, 1950. Erik K. Reed, and Dale S. King, eds., pp. 77-97.Tucson: Hohokam Museums Association and Santa Fe: Southwestern Monuments Association.

Cervantes, Enrique A., 1939

Loza Blanca y Azulejo de Puebla. Tomo Primero. Mexico.

Cheever, Dayle (pers. comm.: Gateway Large Mammal Bone Analysis), 1982.

DiPeso, Charles C., 1953

The Sobaipuri Indians of the Upper San Pedro River Valley, Southeastern Arizona. Dragoon, AZ: The Amerind Foundation, Inc., Publication No. 6.

Ezell, Paul (pers. comm.: Professor Emeritus, San Diego State University), 1979

Fairbanks, Charles H., 1973

The Cultural Significance of Spanish Ceramics. In Ceramics in America, lan M. G. Quimby, ed., pp. 141-174. (Winterthur Conference Report 1972.) Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press.

Feller, Michelle, Spring 1982

Majolica (Type Descriptions) from the Presidio Entranceway Project. On file at the Department of Anthropology, San Diego Mesa College.

Goggin, John H., 1968

Spanish Majolica in the New World. Yale University Publications in Anthropology No. 72.

Hamer, Frank, 1975

The Potter’s Dictionary of Materials and Techniques. New York: Watson-Guptill Publications.

Krisztinkovich, Bela, 1962

Haban Pottery. Budapest: Corvina Press

Lane, Arthur, 1948

Early Islamic Pottery: Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Persia. New York: D. Van Nostrand Co., Inc.

Lister, Florence C., and Robert H. Lister, 1974

Maiolica in Colonial Spanish America. Historical Archaeology 8:17-52. _______, 1976

Distribution of Mexican Maiolica along the Northern Borderlands. In Collected Papers in Honor of Marjorie Ferguson Lambert, Papers of the Arch.of New Mexico, 3. Albuquerque Arch. Soc. Press.

May, Ronald V., 1972

Majolica in Alta California Employing Preliminary Data from the San Diego Presidio. In: Mexican Majolica in Northern New Spain, pp. 25-50. Pacific Coast Archaeological Society Occasional Paper No. 2. ______, 1976

An Analysis of Certain Ceramics from the San Buenaventura Mission. In: The Changing Faces of Main Street: Ventura Mission Plaza Archaeological Project, Roberta S. Greenwood, ed. pp. 211-255. Prepared for the Redevelopment Agency, City of San Buenaventura.

May, Ronald V., 1-18-78

Personal Communication. On file at the Department of Anthropology, San Diego Mesa College.

Plowden, William W., Jr., 1958

Spanish and Mexican Majolica found in New Mexico. El Palacio 65(6):212-219. Scholes, France V., 1930

The Supply Service of the New Mexican Missions in the Seventeenth Century. In: New Mexico Historical Review, Lansing B. Bloom, ed. 5(I):93-115, (II):186-210, (IV):386-404. Santa Fe: The Historical Society of New Mexico and the University of New Mexico.

Storlazzi, Giacinta, 1978

Maiolica: The Timeless Beauty. Preliminary Analysis of Sherds from the San Diego Presidio Entranceway Project. Unpublished report for Archaeology 115. On file at the Department of Anthropology, San Diego Mesa College.

Tepner, Marsha, Spring 1982

Project Summary: Majolica Analysis (from the Entranceway Excavations) 1982. On file at the Department of Anthropology, San Diego Mesa College.

Whitehouse, David, 1978

The Origins of Italian Maiolica. Archaeology 31(2):42-49.


THE PHOTOGRAPHS, maps and drawings were supplied by the author.