The Outlier Survey: A Regional View of the Settlement in the San Juan Basin


Outside Chaco Canyon, in the expansive San Juan Basin, Chacoan students have long noted the presence of sites exhibiting architecture and ceramics characteristic of the major Chaco Canyon sites. Chacoan architecture also occurs at sites with assemblages dominated by San Juan and Chuskan series ceramics. More recently, it has become apparent that many of these outlying sites occur within major Anasazi site aggregations or communities and are linked to Chaco Canyon via prehistoric roads. The term outlier has come into popular usage to emphasize the geographic location of these communities relative to Chaco Canyon.

Examples of widely recognized outlier sites with Chacoan architectural features and, in some instances, Chacoan (Cibolan) ceramics are Aztec Ruin (Morris 1928), Chimney Rock Pueblo, (Eddy 1977; Jeancon and Roberts 1924), Lowry Ruin (Martin 1936), Kin Ya'a (Bannister 1965; Holsinger 1901), Village of the Great Kivas (Roberts 1932), Allantown (Roberts 1939), and Salmon Ruin (Irwin-Williams 1972, 1975). A number of these sites are known to have associated smaller sites, and at a few, prehistoric roads have been documented.

While archaeologists have not doubted the "Chacoan" affinities of architectural features at these sites, debate continues concerning why sites up to 130 km distant from Chaco Canyon should display such striking morphological similarity. Early explanations included migration and resettlement of Chacoan groups or diffusion of Chacoan culture (Gladwin 1945:144-45; Martin 1936:103,205; Morris 1939:53,205; Roberts 1932: 157). The great number of contemporaneous Chacoan outliers documented in recent years, however, has eliminated migration as a valid explanation, while diffusion in its traditional sense has been abandoned by many anthropologists because of its lack of explanatory value (Martin and Plog 1973: 256-60).

Cite this Record

The Outlier Survey: A Regional View of the Settlement in the San Juan Basin. Robert P. Powers, William B. Gillespie, Stephen H. Lekson. Reports of the Chaco Center ,Number 3. Albuquerque, NM: National Park Service. 1983 ( tDAR id: 178071) ; doi:10.6067/XCV8K64HD1

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

Spatial Coverage

min long: -108.666; min lat: 35.219 ; max long: -106.985; max lat: 36.8 ;

Record Identifiers

NADB document id number(s): 2155315

NADB citation id number(s): 000000010191

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