Ritual Modification in the Context of Social Unrest in the Northern San Juan

Author(s): Kristin Kuckelman

Year: 2016


Among the Ancestral Pueblo peoples of the northern San Juan, outbreaks of warfare coincided with periods of environmental deterioration and subsistence stress. The archaeological record of this region contains abundant data that reflect a final period of heightened lethal interactions in the late A.D. 1200s. The data reveal a pattern of attacks that ended the occupations of several villages just before the northern San Juan was permanently depopulated by Pueblo peoples about A.D. 1280. Evidence of these hostilities is preserved in the form of traumatic injuries, perimortem modifications, and the remains of men, women, and children left in abandonment contexts on structure floors or roofs.

However, some fractured and burned remains at Goodman Point Pueblo diverge from this pattern. The contexts of these modified remains suggest that the remains were deposited by residents during village occupation rather than by attackers when occupation of the village ended. This paper explores what the different contexts and treatment of these remains might reveal about the identity of the deceased individuals, the relationship between these individuals and the residents of the village who processed the remains, and about the ritual meanings of both the locations of deposition and of the processing itself.

Cite this Record

Ritual Modification in the Context of Social Unrest in the Northern San Juan. Kristin Kuckelman. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 403089)


Ritual Southwest Warfare

Geographic Keywords
North America - Southwest

Spatial Coverage

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