Five Hundred Years of Plant Use in the Sand Canyon Locality, Southwestern Colorado

Author(s): Susan Smith; Kristin Kuckelman; Karen Adams

Year: 2015


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 differences in plant use attributable to local environmental variation, we focus on the archaeobotanical data for 16 settlements that were located within a 2 km radius on the landscape. Samples from thermal features and middens provide evidence of short-term activities and long-term plant use spanning the Pueblo I, Pueblo II, and Pueblo III periods; late Pueblo III villages are particularly well represented. We examine subsistence practices through time, including reliance on maize agriculture, wild plant use, seasons of occupation, differences in domestic vs. nondomestic use of kivas and public architecture, and possible long-term anthropogenic effects on plant communities. We also scrutinize the data for evidence of subsistence stress or other impetus for the early A.D. 1280’s regional depopulation.

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Cite this Record

Five Hundred Years of Plant Use in the Sand Canyon Locality, Southwestern Colorado. Susan Smith, Karen Adams, Kristin Kuckelman. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 396220)


Spatial Coverage

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