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date: 01 March 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Path dependence concepts, thus far, have seen little application in archaeology, but they have great potential. At a general level, these concepts provide tools for theorizing historical sequences, such as patterns of settlement on a landscape and divergent historical traditions. Potential applications include issues of historical contingency in the late Rio Grande, settlement in the Mesa Verde region, and divergent trajectories in the post-Chaco period. Specific concepts from path dependence theory, including lock-in and critical junctures, are illustrated by an analysis of the growth of Hohokam irrigation, which exhibited a path-dependent trajectory. As archaeological study of path dependence builds awareness of the importance of decision-making on the future, it contributes to difficult decision-making in today’s world.

Keywords: path dependence, contingency, Hohokam irrigation, Rio Grande, Mesa Verde, archaeology

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