Date of Award

May 2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

R. Jason Sherman

Committee Members

John D. Richards, Dawn Scher Thomae


ceramic analysis, Chihuahua, Mexico, museum collections, pottery, vessels


This thesis presents the results of analyses conducted on 80 ceramic vessels from the

Casas Grandes region (Chihuahua, Mexico) currently housed at the Milwaukee Public Museum

(MPM). This collection, most of which was donated in 1977, was accompanied with little to no

provenience information, and no research has been conducted on the materials since they came

to the Museum. Drawing upon published studies of Casas Grandes pottery, a detailed coding

scheme was developed in order to record formal and stylistic data that could be used to classify

the vessels typologically and chronologically. Fifteen different ceramic types dating to the Viejo

and Medio Periods (AD 700-1475) were identified. Iconographic analysis was also conducted to

determine the stylistic patterning represented in the collection, thus allowing it to be compared to

similar collections at other institutions in the United States, several of which were visited as part

of my research. This thesis demonstrates the significant insights that can be gained by analyzing

unprovenienced museum collections. It also will allow the Casas Grandes collection to be used at

the Museum or in the Milwaukee community for research, programming, and/or exhibition.