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Through fire and water: the vulnerability and resilience of highland Ancestral Puebloan communities to prehistoric droughts in the Jemez Mountains, New Mexico

Author(s): Michael Aiuvalasit

Year: 2015

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Summary

Establishing causality between climate change and cultural history is often fraught by mismatched temporal scales and weak archaeological correlates. In the Jemez Mountains of New Mexico the abandonment of large villages on the Pajarito Plateau in the early 16th century has largely been attributed to drought, however the persistence of large communities on the adjacent Jemez Plateau, which shares similar climate histories, ecological settings, and prehistoric adaptations, has not been considered. Water storage features were built adjacent to large villages in both regions. I argue that the use-life histories of these features serve as a proxy for communal management strategies to buffer the vulnerability of water scarcity. I will present the preliminary results of geoarchaeological investigations of six reservoirs on the Jemez Plateau and a regional paleohydrological reconstruction to evaluate whether prehistoric "mega-droughts" induced periods of water scarcity for Ancestral Puebloan communities, and assess if the construction and use of reservoirs enhanced the resilience of communities to droughts.

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Through fire and water: the vulnerability and resilience of highland Ancestral Puebloan communities to prehistoric droughts in the Jemez Mountains, New Mexico. Michael Aiuvalasit. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 395235)


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Spatial Coverage

min long: -115.532; min lat: 30.676 ; max long: -102.349; max lat: 42.033 ;

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America