Leaving Mesa Verde

Amerind Studies in Archaeology

Book 5
University of Arizona Press
Free sample

It is one of the great mysteries in the archaeology of the Americas: the depopulation of the northern Southwest in the late thirteenth-century AD. Considering the numbers of people affected, the distances moved, the permanence of the departures, the severity of the surrounding conditions, and the human suffering and culture change that accompanied them, the abrupt conclusion to the farming way of life in this region is one of the greatest disruptions in recorded history.

Much new paleoenvironmental data, and a great deal of archaeological survey and excavation, permit the fifteen scientists represented here much greater precision in determining the timing of the depopulation, the number of people affected, and the ways in which northern Pueblo peoples coped—and failed to cope—with the rapidly changing environmental and demographic conditions they encountered throughout the 1200s. In addition, some of the scientists in this volume use models to provide insights into the processes behind the patterns they find, helping to narrow the range of plausible explanations.

What emerges from these investigations is a highly pertinent story of conflict and disruption as a result of climate change, environmental degradation, social rigidity, and conflict. Taken as a whole, these contributions recognize this era as having witnessed a competition between differing social and economic organizations, in which selective migration was considerably hastened by severe climatic, environmental, and social upheaval. Moreover, the chapters show that it is at least as true that emigration led to the collapse of the northern Southwest as it is that collapse led to emigration.
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About the author

Timothy A. Kohler is a Regents Professor in the Department of Anthropology at Washington State University and an external professor at the Santa Fe Institute. His work has appeared in such publications as American Antiquity, Current Anthropology, and American Scientist. Mark D. Varien is Vice President of Programs at the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center in Cortez, Colorado. His the author of Sedentism and Mobility in a Social Landscape: Mesa Verde and Beyond. Aaron M. Wright is a PhD student in anthropology at Washington State University and a preservation fellow at the Center for Desert Archaeology. His work has appeared in such publications as American Scientist, Archaeology Southwest, and The Artifact.
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Publisher
University of Arizona Press
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Published on
Nov 15, 2013
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Pages
456
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ISBN
9780816599684
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Language
English
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Genres
Social Science / Archaeology
Social Science / General
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This content is DRM protected.
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The remains of hunter-gatherer groups are the most commonly discovered archaeological resources in the world, and their study constitutes much of the archaeological research done in North America. In spite of paradigm-shifting discoveries elsewhere in the world that may indicate that hunter-gatherer societies were more complex than simple remnants of a prehistoric past, North American archaeology by and large hasn’t embraced these theories, instead maintaining its general neoevolutionary track. This book will change that.

Combining the latest empirical studies of archaeological practice with the latest conceptual tools of anthropological and historical theory, this volume seeks to set a new course for hunter-gatherer archaeology by organizing the chapters around three themes. The first section offers diverse views of the role of human agency, challenging the premise that hunter-gatherer societies were bound by their interactions with the natural world. The second section considers how society and culture are constituted. Chapters in the final section take the long view of the historical process, examining how cultural diversity arises out of interaction and the continuity of ritual practices.

A closing commentary by H. Martin Wobst underscores the promise of an archaeology of foragers that does not associate foraging with any particular ideology or social structure but instead invites inquiry into counterintuitive alternatives. Hunter-Gatherer Archaeology as Historical Process seeks to blur the divisions between prehistory and history, between primitive and modern, and between hunter-gatherers and people in other societies. Because it offers alternatives to the dominant discourse and contributes to the agenda of hunter-gatherer research, this book will be of interest to anyone involved in the study of foraging peoples.
Archaeological research is uniquely positioned to show how native history and native culture affected the course of colonial interaction, but to do so it must transcend colonialist ideas about Native American technological and social change. This book applies that insight to five hundred years of native history. Using data from a wide variety of geographical, temporal, and cultural settings, the contributors examine economic, social, and political stability and transformation in indigenous societies before and after the advent of Europeans and document the diversity of native colonial experiences. The book’s case studies range widely, from sixteenth-century Florida, to the Great Plains, to nineteenth-century coastal Alaska.

The contributors address a series of interlocking themes. Several consider the role of indigenous agency in the processes of colonial interaction, paying particular attention to gender and status. Others examine the ways long-standing native political economies affected, and were in turn affected by, colonial interaction. A third group explores colonial-period ethnogenesis, emphasizing the emergence of new native social identities and relations after 1500. The book also highlights tensions between the detailed study of local cases and the search for global processes, a recurrent theme in postcolonial research.

If archaeologists are to bridge the artificial divide separating history from prehistory, they must overturn a whole range of colonial ideas about American Indians and their history. This book shows that empirical archaeological research can help replace long-standing models of indigenous culture change rooted in colonialist narratives with more nuanced, multilinear models of change—and play a major role in decolonizing knowledge about native peoples.
In the 1100s most Pueblo peoples lived in small, dispersed settlements and moved frequently, but by the mid-1400s they had aggregated into large villages. The majority of these villages were still occupied at Spanish contact and conquest, by which time most Pueblo peoples had completely transformed their perception and experience of village life. Other changes were taking place on a broader regional scale, and the migrations from the Colorado Plateau and the transformation of Chaco initiated myriad changes in ritual organization and practice.

Landscapes of Social Transformation in the Salinas Province and the Eastern Pueblo World investigates relationships between diverse regional and local changes in the Rio Grande and Salinas areas from 1100 to 1500 C.E. The contributing authors draw on the results of sixteen seasons of archaeological survey and excavation in the Salinas Province of central New Mexico. The chapters offer cross-scale analyses to compare broad perspectives in well-researched southwestern culture changes to the finer details of stability and transformation in Salinas. This stability—which was unusual in the Pueblo Southwest—from the 1100s until its abandonment in the 1670s provides an interesting contrast to migration-based transformations studied elsewhere in the Rio Grande region.

CONTRIBUTORS

Patricia Capone
Matthew Chamberlin
Tiffany C. Clark
William M. Graves
Cynthia L. Herhahn
Deborah Huntley
Keith Kintigh
Ann Kinzig
Jeannette L. Mobley-Tanaka
Alison E. Rautman
Jonathan Sandor
Grant Snitker
Julie Solometo
Katherine A. Spielmann
Colleen Strawhacker
Maryann Wasiolek
In central New Mexico, tourists admire the majestic ruins of old Spanish churches and historic pueblos at Abo, Quarai, and Gran Quivira in Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument. The less-imposing remains of the earliest Indian farming settlements, however, have not attracted nearly as much notice from visitors or from professional archaeologists. In Constructing Community, Alison E. Rautman synthesizes over twenty years of research about this little-known period of early sedentary villages in the Salinas region.

Rautman tackles a very broad topic: how archaeologists use material evidence to infer and imagine how people lived in the past, how they coped with everyday decisions and tensions, and how they created a sense of themselves and their place in the world. Using several different lines of evidence, she reconstructs what life was like for the ancestral Pueblo Indian people of Salinas, and identifies some of the specific strategies that they used to develop and sustain their villages over time.

Examining evidence of each site’s construction and developing spatial layout, Rautman traces changes in community organization across the architectural transitions from pithouses to jacal structures to unit pueblos, and finally to plaza-oriented pueblos. She finds that, in contrast to some other areas of the American Southwest, early villagers in Salinas repeatedly managed their built environment to emphasize the coherence and unity of the village as a whole. In this way, she argues, people in early farming villages across the Salinas region actively constructed and sustained a sense of social community.
The pre-Columbian city we call Tikal was abandoned by its Maya residents during the tenth century A.D. and succumbed to the Guatemalan rain forest. It was not until 1848 that it was brought to the attention of the outside world. For the next century Tikal, remote and isolated, received a surprisingly large number of visitors. Public officials, explorers, academics, military personnel, settlers, petroleum engineers, chicle gatherers, and archaeologists came and went, sometimes leaving behind material traces of their visits. A short-lived hamlet was established among the ancient ruins in the late 1870s. In 1956 the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology initiated its fourteen-year-long Tikal Project.

This report chronicles documented visits to Tikal during the century following its modern discovery, and presents the post-Conquest material culture recovered by the Tikal Project in the course of its investigation of the pre-Columbian city. Further research on the nineteenth-century settlement was carried out in 1998 in its southern part by the Lacandon Archaeological Project (LAP) under the direction of Joel W. Palka of the University of Illinois at Chicago. The material culture recovered by the LAP supplements the Tikal Project collection and is referenced here. Historical Archaeology at Tikal, Guatemala is intended as a contribution to nineteenth and early twentieth century Lowland Mesoamerican research. It is rounded out with several appendices that will be of interest to historians and historical archaeologists. The printed volume includes many black and white photographs and drawings. A gallery of color photographs, several from Palka's 1998 excavations, is included on the accompanying CD.

Demonstrates the importance of archaeology today

In the Beginning: An Introduction to Archaeology presents the history and methods of archaeology and explores its significance today. The text introduces archeology's basic principles along with numerous examples from all over the world. Authors Brian Fagan and Nadia Durrani provide a comprehensive summary of the field for people who have little or no experience.

Features:

Provides A Comprehensive Overview – Readers gain a broad understanding of archaeology, including its interdisciplinary nature, major scientific contributions, international research, and methods and theories. A special chapter covers career opportunities in archaeology. A new organization moves archaeological theory to the beginning, so readers can develop a deeper understanding of this field. Offers an Engaging Introduction – The jargon-free narrative provides an accessible introduction to the study of archaeology. In the Beginning is now four-color for a livelier and enriching experience. Explores Significant Historical Events – Seven photo essays titled People of the Past appear throughout the book, covering such luminaries as pharaoh Ramses II and societies like the Cro-Magnons of late Ice Age Europe. Spectacular findings featured in Discovery boxes reflect new developments in archaeology. Incorporates Fresh Ideas from a New Co-Author – Esteemed colleague, Nadia Durrani, has been brought on board as a co-author. She brings a wealth of field experience in Arabia, Britain, and elsewhere as well as extensive editorial experience as the former Editor of Current World Archaeology, to the team.
The remains of hunter-gatherer groups are the most commonly discovered archaeological resources in the world, and their study constitutes much of the archaeological research done in North America. In spite of paradigm-shifting discoveries elsewhere in the world that may indicate that hunter-gatherer societies were more complex than simple remnants of a prehistoric past, North American archaeology by and large hasn’t embraced these theories, instead maintaining its general neoevolutionary track. This book will change that.

Combining the latest empirical studies of archaeological practice with the latest conceptual tools of anthropological and historical theory, this volume seeks to set a new course for hunter-gatherer archaeology by organizing the chapters around three themes. The first section offers diverse views of the role of human agency, challenging the premise that hunter-gatherer societies were bound by their interactions with the natural world. The second section considers how society and culture are constituted. Chapters in the final section take the long view of the historical process, examining how cultural diversity arises out of interaction and the continuity of ritual practices.

A closing commentary by H. Martin Wobst underscores the promise of an archaeology of foragers that does not associate foraging with any particular ideology or social structure but instead invites inquiry into counterintuitive alternatives. Hunter-Gatherer Archaeology as Historical Process seeks to blur the divisions between prehistory and history, between primitive and modern, and between hunter-gatherers and people in other societies. Because it offers alternatives to the dominant discourse and contributes to the agenda of hunter-gatherer research, this book will be of interest to anyone involved in the study of foraging peoples.
From the mid-twelfth to the mid-fourteenth century, the world of the ancestral Pueblo people (Anasazi) was in transition, undergoing changes in settlement patterns and community organization that resulted in what scholars now call the Pueblo III period. This book synthesizes the archaeology of the ancestral Pueblo world during the Pueblo III period, examining twelve regions that embrace nearly the entire range of major topographic features, ecological zones, and prehistoric Puebloan settlement patterns found in the northern Southwest. Drawn from the 1990 Crow Canyon Archaeological Center conference "Pueblo Cultures in Transition," the book serves as both a data resource and a summary of ideas about prehistoric changes in Puebloan settlement and in regional interaction across nearly 150,000 square miles of the Southwest. The volume provides a compilation of settlement data for over 800 large sites occupied between A.D. 1100-1400 in the Southwest. These data provide new perspectives on the geographic scale of culture change in the Southwest during this period. Twelve chapters analyze the archaeological record for specific districts and provide a detailed picture of settlement size and distribution, community architecture, and population trends during the period. Additional chapters cover warfare and carrying capacity and provide overviews of change in the region. Throughout the chapters, the contributors address the unifying issues of the role of large sites in relation to smaller ones, changes in settlement patterns from the Pueblo II to Pueblo III periods, changes in community organization, and population dynamics. Although other books have considered various regions or the entire prehistoric area, this is the first to provide such a wealth of information on the Pueblo III period and such detailed district-by-district syntheses. By dealing with issues of population aggregation and the archaeology of large settlements, it offers readers a much-needed synthesis of one of the most crucial periods of culture change in the Southwest. Contents
1. "The Great Period": The Pueblo World During the Pueblo III Period, A.D. 1150 to 1350, Michael A. Adler
2. Pueblo II-Pueblo III Change in Southwestern Utah, the Arizona Strip, and Southern Nevada, Margaret M. Lyneis
3. Kayenta Anasazi Settlement Transformations in Northeastern Arizona: A.D. 1150 to 1350, Jeffrey S. Dean
4. The Pueblo III-Pueblo IV Transition in the Hopi Area, Arizona, E. Charles Adams
5. The Pueblo III Period along the Mogollon Rim: The Honanki, Elden, and Turkey Hill Phases of the Sinagua, Peter J. Pilles, Jr.
6. A Demographic Overview of the Late Pueblo III Period in the Mountains of East-central Arizona, J. Jefferson Reid, John R. Welch, Barbara K. Montgomery, and María Nieves Zedeño
7. Southwestern Colorado and Southeastern Utah Settlement Patterns: A.D. 1100 to 1300, Mark D. Varien, William D. Lipe, Michael A. Adler, Ian M. Thompson, and Bruce A. Bradley
8. Looking beyond Chaco: The San Juan Basin and Its Peripheries, John R. Stein and Andrew P. Fowler
9. The Cibola Region in the Post-Chacoan Era, Keith W. Kintigh
10. The Pueblo III Period in the Eastern San Juan Basin and Acoma-Laguna Areas, John R. Roney
11. Southwestern New Mexico and Southeastern Arizona, A.D. 900 to 1300, Stephen H. Lekson
12. Impressions of Pueblo III Settlement Trends among the Rio Abajo and Eastern Border Pueblos, Katherine A. Spielman
13. Pueblo Cultures in Transition: The Northern Rio Grande, Patricia L. Crown, Janet D. Orcutt, and Timothy A. Kohler
14. The Role of Warfare in the Pueblo III Period, Jonathan Haas and Winifred Creamer
15. Agricultural Potential and Carrying Capacity in Southwestern Colorado, A.D. 901 to 1300, Carla R. Van West
16. Big Sites, Big Questions: Pueblos in Transition, Linda S. Cordell
17. Pueblo III People and Polity in Relational Context, David R. Wilcox
Appendix: Mapping the Puebloa
Archaeological research is uniquely positioned to show how native history and native culture affected the course of colonial interaction, but to do so it must transcend colonialist ideas about Native American technological and social change. This book applies that insight to five hundred years of native history. Using data from a wide variety of geographical, temporal, and cultural settings, the contributors examine economic, social, and political stability and transformation in indigenous societies before and after the advent of Europeans and document the diversity of native colonial experiences. The book’s case studies range widely, from sixteenth-century Florida, to the Great Plains, to nineteenth-century coastal Alaska.

The contributors address a series of interlocking themes. Several consider the role of indigenous agency in the processes of colonial interaction, paying particular attention to gender and status. Others examine the ways long-standing native political economies affected, and were in turn affected by, colonial interaction. A third group explores colonial-period ethnogenesis, emphasizing the emergence of new native social identities and relations after 1500. The book also highlights tensions between the detailed study of local cases and the search for global processes, a recurrent theme in postcolonial research.

If archaeologists are to bridge the artificial divide separating history from prehistory, they must overturn a whole range of colonial ideas about American Indians and their history. This book shows that empirical archaeological research can help replace long-standing models of indigenous culture change rooted in colonialist narratives with more nuanced, multilinear models of change—and play a major role in decolonizing knowledge about native peoples.
The Mesa Verde migrations in the thirteenth century were an integral part of a transformative period that forever changed the course of Pueblo history. For more than seven hundred years, Pueblo people lived in the Northern San Juan region of the U.S. Southwest. Yet by the end of the 1200s, tens of thousands of Pueblo people had left the region. Understanding how it happened and where they went are enduring questions central to Southwestern archaeology.

Much of the focus on this topic has been directed at understanding the role of climate change, drought, violence, and population pressure. The role of social factors, particularly religious change and sociopolitical organization, are less well understood. Bringing together multiple lines of evidence, including settlement patterns, pottery exchange networks, and changes in ceremonial and civic architecture, this book takes a historical perspective that naturally forefronts the social factors underlying the depopulation of Mesa Verde.

Author Donna M. Glowacki shows how “living and leaving” were experienced across the region and what role differing stressors and enablers had in causing emigration. The author’s analysis explains how different histories and contingencies—which were shaped by deeply rooted eastern and western identities, a broad-reaching Aztec-Chaco ideology, and the McElmo Intensification—converged, prompting everyone to leave the region. This book will be of interest to southwestern specialists and anyone interested in societal collapse, transformation, and resilience.
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