Communities through Time: Societal Continuity and Transformation in the Northern San Juan Region

Part of: Society for American Archaeology 80th Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA (2015)

Decades of archaeological research in the northern San Juan region have yielded an abundant, rich, and complex body of data regarding the Pueblo occupation of the region, which was underway by 500 B.C. and continued until the complete depopulation of the region by Pueblo peoples late in the thirteenth century. During that occupation of this challenging landscape, communities formed and evolved, varying from clusters of family farmsteads to aggregated communities to large nucleated villages, with concomitant societal adaptations and innovations. These developments were key in enabling Pueblo farming families to survive for many centuries on this semi-arid landscape plagued with climatic variability and periodic drought. Myriad facets of Pueblo society and lifeways transformed in profound ways and then coalesced into a cohesive and enduring foundation for the centuries of Pueblo culture that followed in regions to the south. The papers in this session draw upon the rich body of empirical data for the northern San Juan region to produce diachronic syntheses that elucidate―within the context and setting of the community―long-term adaptation, transformation, and continuity in settlement patterning, subsistence systems, technologies, intra- and inter-regional interactions, regional chronology, and the increasing complexity of social, political, economic, and ritual systems.

Resources Inside This Collection (Viewing 1-15 of 15)

  • Documents (15)

  • Architectural Specialization in Basketmaker III Proto-Villages (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Shanna Diederichs. Grace Erny. Aryel Rigano.

    The foundations of Ancestral Pueblo community organization were codified in aggregated communities during the Basketmaker III Period (A.D. 500-725). This study compares morphological differences in public architecture and habitation pit structures at several aggregated sites in the Northern San Juan Region to reveal functional specialization of space associated with both long-term habitation and periodic communal gathering behavior. This specialization may reflect the primary social institutions...

  • The Art of Footwear, Footwear as Art: Thirteen Hundred Years of Twined Sandal Production in the Northern Southwest (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Laurie Webster.

    Finely woven yucca cordage sandals appeared in the northern Southwest 2000 years ago as a fully formed craft tradition and continued in use until the early A.D. 1200s. Their complex, labor-intensive weave structures, ornate toe finishes, and elaborate iconography suggest that these sandals played important social and symbolic roles in communities of the San Juan region for more than a millennium before disappearing from the archaeological record in the mid-thirteenth century. In this diachronic...

  • The Bluff –Twin Rocks community: Community formation, persistence and evolution in the northwestern San Juan region (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Jonathan Till. Winston Hurst.

    The valley of Bluff, Utah, is one of many localities in southeast Utah where the archaeological record may show evidence of a succession of Puebloan community centers from the AD 500s through the 1200s (Basketmaker III – Pueblo III periods). These remains can be (1) the formation and dissolution of successive, independent, econocentric communities that came and went in a location with economically advantageous qualities (water and arable land); or (2) a single, persistent, sociocentric community...

  • The Changing Scale of Integrative Pueblo Communities in the Northern San Juan Region: Basketmaker III through Pueblo III. (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Grant Coffey. Susan Ryan.

    Most studies of ancestral Pueblo communities in the northern San Juan region of southwestern Colorado use clusters of roughly contemporary habitations, often associated with public architecture, to define the spatial extent of residential communities. The term "community" has also been used to define important social groupings at both larger and smaller spatial scales depending on the focus of study and the type of social connection suggested. This study uses the locations of great kivas, one of...

  • Cowboy Wash Pueblo and Community Organization on the Southern Piedmont of Sleeping Ute Mountain (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only James Potter.

    Located on the southern piedmont of Sleeping Ute Mountain in southwest Colorado, Cowboy Wash Pueblo (5MT7740) is a large, late Pueblo III site containing thirteen kiva depressions and more than thirty rooms. It is the largest site within what has been termed the Cowboy Wash community, yet it is one of the least well documented of all the habitations composing this community. Recent investigations at the site documented a very different configuration for the site than had originally been...

  • An Examination of Spatial Relationships using GIS data from the Basketmaker Communities Project (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Tanachy Bruhns.

    The Basketmaker Communities Project (BCP) is a multiyear investigation by Crow Canyon Archaeological Center in Cortez, Colorado of one of the largest Basketmaker III communities known in the central Mesa Verde region. This paper examines a combination of artifact, architectural, and spatial information from 97 sites collected by Woods Canyon Archaeological Consultants and Crow Canyon Archaeological Research Center. By using ESRI’s GIS software to analyze (BCP) data this study applies...

  • Five Hundred Years of Plant Use in the Sand Canyon Locality, Southwestern Colorado (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Susan Smith. Karen Adams. Kristin Kuckelman.

    For more than 20 years, the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center has systematically acquired flotation, macrobotanical, and pollen samples from structure floors, thermal features, middens, and other contexts during the testing or excavation of many ancestral Pueblo sites dating from a wide range of time periods. In this study, we synthesize uses of plant materials through nearly 500 years of the Pueblo occupation of the Sand Canyon locality in the northern San Juan region. In order to control for...

  • Intensive archaeological sampling for fine-grained resolution of human-environment relationships: fauna from the Sand Canyon Locality and the central Mesa Verde region (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Jonathan Driver. Karen Schollmeyer.

    In the Mesa Verde region of the southwest USA the intensity of archaeological excavation, coupled with good preservation and high-resolution dating, creates an unusual opportunity to examine spatial and temporal variation in faunal assemblages. We examine methodological issues associated with the analysis of hundreds of assemblages in a small region, and show how thoughtfully selected data provide opportunities to study a number of phenomena, including: differential human impact on animal...

  • Isolated Human Remains from the Central Mesa Verde Region: Taphonomic Distribution Patterns Across Sites (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Lara Noldner.

    This paper examines the taphonomic distribution of isolated human remains at several archaeological sites in southwestern Colorado, an area occupied by Ancestral Pueblo people from the A.D. 500s to around A.D. 1280. The Crow Canyon Archaeological Center defines isolated human remains as fewer than five disarticulated elements. The majority of isolated skeletal elements analyzed were recovered from Pueblo II and III (A.D. 900-1280) contexts, but earlier Basketmaker III (A.D. 500-750) contexts...

  • Lagomorph exploitation and garden hunting in the northern San Juan region (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Steve Wolverton. Laura Ellyson.

    The northern San Juan (NSJ) region of the United States contains a high density of archaeological sites. Ancestral Puebloan people lived in small hamlets (ca. AD 1000) prior to aggregating into large pueblo villages (ca. AD 1150). Periods of drought occurred prior to the abandonment of this sub-region (ca. AD 1300), influencing the availability of animal resources. Zooarchaeological studies of subsistence in the NSJ region have focused on a decline in availability of large game concurrent with...

  • Material Culture of Communities: Temporal and Spatial Patterns in the Material Culture of the Goodman Point Community (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Kari Schleher. Jamie Merewether. Grant Coffey.

    In this paper, we explore temporal and spatial patterns present in the material culture of the Goodman Point Community. The Goodman Point area of southwestern Colorado was home to ancestral Pueblo peoples from the A.D. 600s until depopulation of the broader region around A.D. 1280. Recent laboratory analyses by the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center have produced a large data set of the material culture within the later Goodman Point Community, including data on over 95,000 sherds and 75,000...

  • Radiocarbon and the Stable Isotope Chemistry of Grand Gulch Basketmaker II Burials: Age-Based Dietary Patterning and Geolocation. (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Joan Coltrain. Joel Janetski.

    The stable isotope chemistry of 149 directly dated Basketmaker II burials from the Four Corners region of the American Southwest indicates relatively heavy reliance on maize and low animal protein intake. Sex and age patterning reveals differences in adult male versus female diets and distinguishes adolescent diets from those of adult males. Hydroxyapatite oxygen isotope values effectively sort individuals relative to the latitude and elevation of burial sites and are further used to clarify the...

  • Spruce Tree House: The Social History of a Thirteenth-Century Cliff Dwelling (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Joel Brisbin. Kay Barnett. Donna Glowacki.

    As one of the best preserved ancestral Pueblo sites in the Southwest, Spruce Tree House presents a unique opportunity to examine aggregation during the 1200s; a time fraught with significant social and religious changes, intensifying intraregional violence, and extreme climatic conditions that ends with widespread Pueblo exodus from the region. This paper presents our fine-grained reconstruction of how Spruce Tree House developed over time based on detailed architectural documentation and a...

  • Stone Tools and Social Change (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Carole Graham. Jerry Fetterman. Bryan Shanks.

    Drawing from survey level data acquired during recent cultural resource inventories in and near Canyons of the Ancients National Monument in southwestern Colorado, this paper investigates social change and continuity during the Basketmaker III to Pueblo III periods, as evident in the stone tool assemblages of distinct communities. Tool type, ubiquity, location, and association are used to explore trends in technological adaptations, providing insights into the social and economic complexity of...

  • Turkey Domestication and Utilization in an Ancestral Puebloan Community (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Christy Winstead. Amy Hoffman. Laura Ellyson. Steve Wolverton.

    The archaeofaunal remains left by the Ancestral Puebloan people who lived in the Goodman Point community provide a chronological record of their interaction with turkey (Meleagris gallopavo). Domestication can be regarded as a co-evolutionary relationship between a plant or animal species and humans that varies in the intensity of mutual dependence. We examine how the Goodman Point residents’ relationship with turkey evolved from the late AD 900s to the 1280’s. Our research involves the analysis...