EMAP (1995) Report to the National Geographic Society on Activities Conducted Under Grant 4551-91

Part of the EMAP - Reports project

Year: 1995


National Geographic Society grant 5213-94 has supported research examining the impact of population

dispersion and reorganization in the prehistoric Puebloan Southwest. During the 11th through 14th centuries in the Mimbres region of southwestern New Mexico, large villages were abandoned and population reorganized into small, dispersed pueblos. The shifts in land use and social organization that emerged with this change were examined. Three objectives were pursued: 1) Documentation of regional continuity of occupation by Mimbres people during the transition from the collapse of large village settlements to reorganization in small pueblos; 2) Evaluation of the changes in land use by dispersing groups within the eastern Mimbres region; and 3) Evaluation of changing social dynamics with reorganization to small villages and collapse of the large village centers. Two small pueblos were excavated, adding to a sample off our small pueblos excavated with partial support from the National Geographic Society (4551-91). In all, eleven structures were fully excavated: in 1994 and 1995, representing approximately 15 percent of the rooms on those two sites. Funding supported excavation, dating by radiocarbon and obsidian hydration, and ethnobotanical analysis. Our fieldwork and preliminary analysis has allowed us to evaluate hypotheses concerning the reorganization of groups and re-orientation of resource selection and residential mobility. We have found that with the collapse of population centers, people did not abandon the region, but dispersed to their former field houses, converting these to residences. Contrary to current views that small, dispersed populations in the Southwest would focus on hunting and gathering, we are finding that an agricultural focus was sustained, but with greater residential mobility than in the previous period of aggregation. Dispersed groups appear to have realigned themselves socially, redefining their ceramic and architectural traditions following the collapse of the population centers. In the mid twelfth century AD Mimbres people abandoned their large villages throughout southwestern New Mexico (LeBlanc 1976; Shafer 1990). In contrast to much research about the disappearance of the Mimbres, our work in the eastern Mimbres area documents continued occupation of the region by Mimbres people living in small dispersed pueblos. The large village dwellers of pre AD 1150 are referred to as the Classic Mimbres. We refer to the post 1150 sites as Postclassic hamlets. The goal of archaeological fieldwork and analysis, supported in part by the National Geographic Society (Grant# 5213- 94), is to document Postclassic regional reorganization and to evaluate hypotheses about changing economic and social patterns. Mimbres people did not disappear; they changed their economic and social patterns over time. This research documents the process. Specifically we address four questions: 1. How were new settlements formed by those Mimbres people who remained in the eastern Mimbres area? 2. Is population dispersion during the Postclassic associated with increased emphasis on hunting and gathering, a model currently applied to Southwestern prehistory? 3. Was land use extensive or intensive at the small Postclassic hamlets? 4. What new social arrangements developed in the absence of large villages within the region?

Cite this Record

EMAP (1995) Report to the National Geographic Society on Activities Conducted Under Grant 4551-91. EMAP Annual Report - 1995. 1995 ( tDAR id: 374747) ; doi:10.6067/XCV81J97ZR

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

Spatial Coverage

min long: -107.428; min lat: 32.927 ; max long: -107.356; max lat: 32.982 ;

Individual & Institutional Roles

Principal Investigator(s): Michelle Hegmon; Margaret C. Nelson

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