Pottery is one of the oldest forms of art, with pieces dating back to the prehistoric era, and the Southwest certainly has its fair share of prehistoric pottery that fascinates residents as well as visitors. Now, visitors to the Sharlot Hall Museum, 415 W. Gurley St., have a chance to check out some of that pottery with the museum's newest pre-history pottery exhibit, which opened Saturday, Jan. 30.
The exhibit showcases the pottery that prehistoric tribes bartered with using a business model that dates back more than a millennium, according to a news release from Ken Leja, marketing and media manager for the museum.
The business model was quite remarkable, Museum Curator of Anthropology Sandy Lynch said in the release.
"Traveling over mountains, across the arid desert and fording rivers with pots and other goods for barter - imagine carrying multiple large clay jars and pottery jugs," Lynch said in the release, noting that some weighed as much as 25 pounds in addition to the weight of whatever was inside. "Lugging these loads as far north as Wupatki and south to present-day Casas Grande, Mexico."
The exhibit showcases 60 pottery pieces. They depict the five general areas of Southwest pottery-making and identify the geography of travel and many of the trails the prehistoric people used, along with a sidebar map.
The mystique of the pieces is the keystone element of the expanded "Pre-History" wing of the Lawler Exhibit Center. It also begins the final phase of the wing, presenting "Stone Age Developers," native people who originally inhabited the Prescott area, Executive Director Fred Veil said in a release. Following further design and construction work over the next year, the targeted completion date is early 2017.
The pottery exhibit demonstrates where the ornate pottery found in this area originated, Leja said. In comparison, pottery native to the Prescott area was simpler and plainer, he said.
"They all found their way to the Prescott area," Leja said. "... Makes you wonder what we had to trade."
Sharlot Hall Museum is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $7 for adults, $6 for seniors and military personnel, $3 for children ages 13 to 17 and free for children 12 and under.
For more information, call the museum at 928-445-3122, ext. 10.