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date: 28 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter reviews the issues that continue to challenge understandings of the pre-colonial developments that occurred in Chaco Canyon, New Mexico during the ninth–twelfth centuries ce. It specificially focuses on questions of population, agricultural potential, the organization of production, internal social dynamics, and the nature of regional interactions. The chapter highlights major trends in Chacoan research, as space does not allow a full review of the significant interpretive models in the current literature. Instead, the chapter focuses thematically on the aforementioned issues and offers interpretations in the context of contemporary and historic research and the authors’ specific areas of specialization. The authors argue for the significant agricultural potential of the canyon, dispersed and non-coercive craft specialization driven by a ritual mode of production, a substantial residential population, distinct social differentiation based largely on religious authority, and a multi-nodal network of local and regional relationships consistent with house society models.

Keywords: agriculture, Chaco Canyon NM, mortuary practices, religion, craft specialization, social differentiation

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