Basketry Shields of the Prehispanic Southwest

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1 Scopus citations


Indigenous American shield-making traditions are best known among the peoples of the Plains and Southwest cultural provinces, where shields were used in martial and ceremonial contexts. In these regions, shields are frequently represented in images cross-cutting a range of visual media including rock and mural paintings, and pictographs and petroglyphs, some of which exhibit considerable antiquity. Actual shields, however, are almost unknown archaeologically. This article presents new data resulting from an analysis of five coiled basketry shields recovered from archaeological sites in the northern Southwest. Digital image enhancement clarifies the nature of early shield decoration, while evidence for use in combat contributes to knowledge of shield evolution and function. Improved dating suggests the possibility that basketry shields predate the proliferation of shield imagery in the AD 1200s. These observations help reorient discussion of shield form, function, and iconography within the context of wider cultural developments during the AD 1200s and beyond.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)453-488
Number of pages36
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2022


  • Ancestral Pueblo
  • Basketry
  • bow and arrow
  • iconography
  • rock art
  • shield
  • warfare
  • weaponry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Anthropology
  • History
  • Archaeology


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