Common Goods in Uncommon Times: Water, Droughts, and the Sustainability of Ancestral Puebloan Communities in the Jemez Mountains, New Mexico (AD 1100-1700)
Author(s): Michael Aiuvalasit
The Jemez and Pajarito Plateaus of the Jemez Mountains share similar cultural, environmental, and climatic contexts, yet large Ancestral Puebloan communities of the Pajarito abandoned mesa-tops for lowlands of the Rio Grande during the 16th century while occupations of the Jemez Plateau persisted until the 17th century. Droughts are hypothesized as a driver of depopulation of the Pajarito Plateau, but if so why wasn’t the Jemez abandoned as well? Prehistoric communities built water storage features (reservoirs) at most large villages. These common pool resources serve as archaeological proxies for how communities took collective action to reduce the risk of water scarcity. Geoarchaeological investigations at 15 prehistoric water reservoir features at 9 sites across both regions, combined with geospatial analyses of hydrogeology and settlement histories allow the close evaluation of relationships between resource management, climate, and population dynamics. Communities of the Jemez Plateau used their reservoirs for the entire length of occupation. Reservoirs on the Pajarito Plateau stopped being used during droughts in the mid-1400s. Subtle differences in precipitation and geohydrology made Pajarito communities more vulnerable to droughts, but key differences in social organization likely played a greater role in the divergent trajectories of this region.
Cite this Record
Common Goods in Uncommon Times: Water, Droughts, and the Sustainability of Ancestral Puebloan Communities in the Jemez Mountains, New Mexico (AD 1100-1700). Michael Aiuvalasit. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 429020)
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min long: -115.532; min lat: 30.676 ; max long: -102.349; max lat: 42.033 ;
Abstract Id(s): 16962