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date: 23 July 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The Mesa Verde region—extending from southeastern Utah to southwestern Colorado and northwestern New Mexico—is the heartland of the earliest pueblos and an ancestral home for at least three of the four Pueblo language groups. Over the last two millennia, there were three periods in which Ancestral Pueblo population peaked and declined, with the last abandonment of the late thirteenth century the most well known. The combination of excellent material preservation, detailed tree-ring and ceramic chronologies, and the ability to integrate extensive archaeological, linguistic, sociocultural, and biological data provides a unique opportunity to research the Neolithic demographic transition, the ethnogenesis of historically known groups, the formation and abandonment of villages, and the role of historical contingency in making sense of the past.

Keywords: archaeology, Mesa Verde, Ancestral Pueblo, abandonment, Neolithic

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