Kurt Anschuetz, Eileen L. Camilli, and Christopher D. Banet
The discussion in this chapter is based on the premise that agricultural landscapes are the foundations of the economies, social organizations, and cultural identities of farming communities. It reviews selected archaeological districts between Sonora and the northern Rio Grande in which technologically diverse agricultural features, including trincheras, terraces, rock-bordered grids, gravel mulches, and canals, are well documented. This examination shows that large-scale field complexes, including those dependent on canal irrigation, are widespread throughout the pre-colonial North American Southwest, with some dating to the Late Archaic. Consideration of the Tewa Basin of north-central New Mexico as a case study introduces the idea that shrines are other essential agricultural landscape features, which possess the potential to contribute toward fuller understandings of farming settlement dynamics.
Applied Archaeology in the Americas: Evaluating Archaeological Solutions to the Impacts of Global Environmental Change
Jago Cooper and Lindsay Duncan
This chapter considers the role of archaeology in creating solutions for coping with the impacts of global environmental change, illustrated by cases from Latin America. Past examples of the practical application of pre-Columbian innovations and techniques are considered, and the key themes of social practice and community engagement discussed. These principles are then applied to the islands of the Caribbean where archaeology can play an important role in accessing and illuminating pre-Columbian lifeways in the region. The comparative resilience of past and present lifeways to the hazards created by extreme weather events, precipitation variability, and sea level changes are discussed, and the role of archaeology as a means of engaging the public, stimulating discussion, and informing debate is considered.
Ruth M. Van Dyke
In the southwest United States, high altitudes, open vistas, and cloudless skies create a visual atmosphere where the light is legendary. I focus on the role of light for the people of Chaco Canyon—a 1,000-year-old pilgrimage centre in the San Juan Basin of northwest New Mexico. Here, worldviews and cosmologies involved the dualistic juxtaposition of light and dark, visible and invisible, sun and moon. The movements of celestial bodies in a clear sky, and the presence of open sightlines with distinctive peaks, contributed to the creation of a complex cosmography. Sun and moon, visibility and invisibility, light and darkness opposed one another and revolved around Chaco Canyon—the centre of the ancient Chacoan world.
George R. Milner, Jane E. Buikstra, and Anna C. Novotny
In the American midcontinent, the transition from hunter-gatherer to agricultural economies was long, spanning several millennia, but it took place in a stepwise fashion. Plant remains and human bones provide complementary evidence of a shift to a greater dependence on maize just over a millennium ago. The immediate causes of subsistence change do not appear to have been the same each step of the way, although local population density and intergroup conflict figured prominently in the process. Shifts in lifeways were accompanied by changes in disease experience, although variation in late prehistoric community well-being is not explicable in terms of commonly used archaeological or sociopolitical categories.