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Archaeology of North America

Archaeology of North America

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Archaeology of North America

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  1. Archaeology of North America The Archaic Southwest and Lower Pecos

  2. The SouthwestIntroduction • Includes most of New Mexico and Arizona, southern Utah and Colorado, southeastern California and part of northwest Mexico • This region has dramatic environmental contrasts • Deserts to forested mountain ranges • Low to moderate rainfall • This variation is important to its past • Agriculture distinguishes this area from all others in NA

  3. The SouthwestIntroduction • The southwest is often defined culturally in two ways: • By agriculture, farming artifacts, pottery, multi-room villages with public architecture • By the absence of formal social stratification, large cities, writing and monumental architecture as seen at Mesoamerican sites • They survived as agriculturists in this very harsh environment by staying flexible • Southwest societies were in a constant state of change

  4. The SouthwestSouthwestern Peoples • There four major cultural traditions that can be traced back • Yuman-speaking people • O’odham • Pueblo Indians • Apache and Navajo people

  5. The SouthwestSouthwestern Peoples • Yuman speaking people • Lived along the Colorado River Valley and the nearby uplands and in Baja California • Practiced floodplain agriculture and also hunting and gathering • Were skilled warriors and traders • O’odham • Lived in s. Arizona and n. parts of New Mexico in the deserts, rugged uplands and river valleys • Uto-Aztecan speakers • All lived in rancherias; small hamlets with separate family dwellings

  6. The SouthwestSouthwestern Peoples • Pueblo Indians • Lived in Arizona and New Mexico • Spoke diverse languages but shared a common culture • Hopi, Zuni, Acoma and other language groups • Agriculturalists that also hunt and gather • Live in villages made of adobe and stone that are often joined • All pueblos have a ceremonial room: a Kiva • Apache and Navajo people • Athabaskan speakers, likely form Canada in the 16th century

  7. The SouthwestThe Environment • The Southwest lies in several physiological zones: • Rugged mountains to the south and west • Large basins between the mountains • The lowest of which is just 30 m above sea level and the highest in the Colorado Plateau at 1500 m • There are several mesas, steep sided canyons, and vast gorges • Volcanic deposits yielding obsidian • In the east are the Rockies and the watershed that provides water for much of the region

  8. The SouthwestThe Environment • Climate is arid to semiarid in general, but is highly localized making it difficult to discuss climate change though time • In much of the western part the rainfall comes twice a year • Winter storms from the Pacific bring rain and even snow between December and March • In July and August there are short intense thunderstorms • On average the south desert areas receives less than 20 cm of rain per year

  9. The SouthwestThe Environment • In the east most of the precipitation comes in July and August in Gulf thunderstorms • The gulf stream has a dramatic effect on the amount and distribution of precipitation, leading to unpredictable cycles of rainfall and droughts • In other words, relying on rainfall alone is dangerous • For agriculture, they used seeps and springs on the Colorado Plateau, and irrigated along the banks of the Rio Grande

  10. The SouthwestThe Plants • The vegetation in the southern deserts is brush • As one moves northward it becomes mixed grasses, shrubs, open pine, pinon pine, and juniper forests • On the Colorado Plateau it is arid grasslands, with wide spread sage brush and open juniper-pinon woodland

  11. The SouthwestThe Plants • There are many edible plants in the region • Agave: the leaves and centers are roasted and stored • Sotol, Yukka, cactus fruits, mesquite and cholla • Wild onions and potatoes can be roasted and boiled • Many seasonal fruits (hackberry and juniper) • Nuts and seeds: ground and mixed with cornmeal • In times of low precipitation many of these plants lie dormant and thus they cannot be harvested forcing people to gather these resources over large distances

  12. Agave plant

  13. Yucca plant

  14. Sotol Plant Cholla Plant

  15. The SouthwestThe Animals • The animals in the region survive off the plants and thus too must be flexible • Most are omnivorous • These animals include • deer, big-horn sheep, pronghorns, • Other animals include • Jack rabbits, cottontails, gophers, prairie dogs, voles, birds, waterfowl (along the rivers), and dogs • Some groups even domesticated the turkey

  16. The SouthwestAgriculture • The most important resource for these people during the past 2000 years was domesticated maize • Agriculture requires that • There are enough growing days • precipitation • good temperatures • The high temperatures of the deserts and low of the plateau mean different growing lengths, as does the aridity of the region

  17. The SouthwestAgriculture • Due to the constant variability of much of the southwest (so much so that from one part of a canyon to the other the yield would be different) the farmers had to develop ways to ensure some success • This rested on the careful use of the scarce water sources and involved carefully placing the gardens where they could capitalize on this resource

  18. The SouthwestBasic Framework for SW Archaeology • The Pecos Pueblo site on the Rio Grand in New Mexico was the main site for developing a chronology for the southwest • Alfred Kidder developed this Pecos chronology for the site, occupied before 1540 to 1838, and is still used more or less today • The Pecos classification is based on architecture, pottery, stools and to some extent skeletal characteristics

  19. The SouthwestBasic Framework for SW Archaeology • There are 8 cultural stages: • Basketmaker I: a pre-agricultural stage. This is now called Archaic • Basketmaker II (Basketmaker): farmers and using spear-throwers • Basketmaker III (Post Basketmaker): pottery, pit and slab houses • Then 5 Pueblo stages (I – V): connected to the rise of Pueblo culture to historic times

  20. The SouthwestBasic Framework for SW Archaeology • The problem with this chronology is that Kidder defined it as a cultural evolution • In reality it is much more complex, with great diversity not only in the periods but between the regions within the southwest • Now the southwest is put into a broad cultural framework • Paleo-Indian: 13 000 BP – 6500 BC • Southwestern Archaic: 6500 BC – AD 200 • Then four major cultural traditions subdivided into chronological phases

  21. The SouthwestBasic Framework for SW Archaeology • Anasazi: (?1 AD – present) • Early ancestors • In the northern southwest • Main sites include Chaco Canyon and Mesa Verde • Hohokam: (C. AD 400 – 1500) • Those who have gone • The southern desert regions of the southwest • Rectangular, single unit dwellings, low platform mounds, ball courts, cremations, irrigation systems and pebble and anvil decorated pottery • Trading with Mesoamerica

  22. The SouthwestBasic Framework for SW Archaeology • Mongollon: (?250 BC – AD 1450) • Early Spanish Colonial governor of New Mexico • Located in the mountains in southeastern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico • Noted for the plain and corrugated brown or red ceramics found over a large area • Pithouses • Patayan: (AD 875 – present) • Old People • West of the Hohokam region and north to the Grand Canyon • Not yet well defined

  23. The SouthwestThe Paleo-Indians +10 500 – 6500 BC • Well documented Clovis and Folsom sites • The bones of extinct animals are found at several sites • Mammoth and bison kill sites are seen • Blackwater Draw • Bison dominated in the east and plants in the west • Population was small and dispersed • By the end of this period the population had began to develop more diverse subsistence strategies connected to the local resources.

  24. The SouthwestSouthwestern Archaic (c. 6500 BC – AD 200) • Around the Mid Holocene when climate began to warm (the Altithermal) the vegetation changed into what it is today • Forests were replaced with desert scrub and grasslands • The beginning of the Archaic is marked with dried weather in several places • The Altithermal is followed by fluctuations in the aridity of the region

  25. The SouthwestSouthwestern Archaic (c. 6500 BC – AD 200) • Diversification of their resources was vital • They relied heavily on plant foods and smaller animals • The population was on the move in search of resources, meaning that the sites are transitory settlements, occupied for only short periods of time • For this reason the archaeological record is very incomplete • Only in the odd cave yields a more complete preserved record

  26. The SouthwestSouthwestern Archaic (c. 6500 BC – AD 200) • During this period the people lived and made use of a variety of environments depending on the conditions • This is seen in the archaeological record as a multidimensional mosaic of hunter and gather societies with great local and short term variation • Mano and metates appear in this period throughout the southwest attesting the processing of seeds

  27. The SouthwestSouthwestern Archaic (c. 6500 BC – AD 200) • Some scholars have tried to use the projectile points to distinguish the local traditions through time • The complexity makes this very difficult • Hafting techniques are also looked at • The fact that many Archaic sites have not been securely dated adds to the problem • In general, from Paleo-Indian into the Early Archaic, projectile points styles are similar over large areas

  28. The SouthwestSouthwestern Archaic (c. 6500 BC – AD 200) • By the Middle Archaic there is a diversity of point styles used over small areas, likely connected to the local resources and perhaps the stone itself • Some argue that this may also be linked with some population growth and the limiting of territories as a result, with less mobility • At this same time trade became much more important

  29. The SouthwestSouthwestern Archaic (c. 6500 BC – AD 200) • Despite the complexity and problems for this period, Cynthia Irwin-Williams identified four interacting Archaic traditions • San-Dieguito-Pinto Tradition (6500 BC – AD 200) • Oshara Tradition (c. 5500 BC – c. AD 600) • Cochise Tradition (? + 5000 – c. 200 BC) • Chihuahua (? 6000 BC – AD 250) • For now these traditions are provisional at best

  30. The SouthwestSouthwestern Archaic (c. 6500 BC – AD 200) • San-Dieguto-Pinto (Western) Tradition • This is the western most tradition • It evolves from the Paleo-Indian groups • It is identified based on the Pinto Basin points with straight stems and concave bases • Oshara (Northern) Tradition • May also have Paleo-Indian roots • Has several phases, each with its own projectiles • Link with long-term cultural development for the local Archaic cultures into the Pueblo-Anasazi culture

  31. Pinto Basin Points

  32. The SouthwestSouthwestern Archaic (c. 6500 BC – AD 200) • Cochise (Southern) Tradition • Several phases within this tradition, the latter of which are better known • Tool kit has a variety of projectile points and many seed processing artifacts • Many of the projectile points are large, with corner or side notches and straight or convex bases • Population growth is noted by c. 1500 BC • By this time they were also cultivating maize and other crops

  33. The SouthwestSouthwestern Archaic (c. 6500 BC – AD 200) • Cochise (Southern) Tradition • Groups are exploiting a wide range of regions • Possibly living in more permanent settlements • Seen by the large oval pithouses (0.5 m below the ground) that would have required effort to build • The later Mongollon tradition may have developed out of this tradition • Chihuahua (Southeastern) Tradition • Poorly defined, but likely includes local adaptations that evolved over long periods of time

  34. The SouthwestSouthwestern Archaic (c. 6500 BC – AD 200) • A Population Movement and Climate Model • Claudia and Michael Berry note that there are several gaps during the Archaic period seen with C14 dates. Technically if there is gradual change in this region over time these gaps should not be there. • They believe the population fluctuations are relate to climate changes in the region. • They divide the Archaic into 3 main periods • Periods I, II and III

  35. The SouthwestSouthwestern Archaic (c. 6500 BC – AD 200) • Period I (8000 – 3000 BC) • This is a period of fluctuating warm-wet and cold-dry climates • Very little is known archaeologically • The sparse population likely concentrated around clusters of food resources, but intermittently • The Pinto point is connected with this period (the earliest Archaic point in the east)