Modeling Prehispanic Agricultural Risk Landscapes in the Cibola Region of the U.S. Southwest


Ethnographic research suggests maintaining diverse subsistence strategies and extensive social networks help to mitigate various ecological risks (e.g., Cashdan 1985; Spielmann 1986; Wiessner 1982). The prehispanic agriculturalists of the semi-arid U.S. Southwest faced several ecological challenges and may have maintained social connections with ecologically diverse areas as a risk mitigation strategy. To test this hypothesis, we have developed a temporally and spatially explicit model of potential agricultural productivity across the Cibola region based on annual precipitation, topography, soil characteristics, and the location and size of archaeologically known settlements. The model seeks to identify sets of settlements with anti-correlated relative differences in food production potential. In other words, if a settlement fails to produce enough food in a given year, are there settlements located elsewhere that will produce a surplus and be willing to share their food? The model results are then compared to social networks that have been reconstructed using ceramic data from archaeological sites. While this analysis does not rule out other forms of social interaction, correspondence between the model results and the archaeological record support the notion that investment in social networks and trade were used to mitigate the uncertainty of agricultural productivity in the prehispanic U.S. Southwest.

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Cite this Record

Modeling Prehispanic Agricultural Risk Landscapes in the Cibola Region of the U.S. Southwest. Jon Norberg, John Anderies, Jon Sandor, Grant Snitker, Andrea Torvinen. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 396682)


Spatial Coverage

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