The origins of Chaco timbers by tree-ring based sourcing

Author(s): Christopher Guiterman

Year: 2017


The regional integration of Chaco Society includes the procurement of goods and materials from distant landscapes. Wood incorporated as roof beams, door and window lintels, and other building elements is no exception. Hundreds of thousands of trees were felled and hand-carried from mountain ranges over 50 km from Chaco Canyon. Using tree-ring width patterns of beams compared to tree-ring chronologies from potential harvesting areas, we have begun to reconstruct the dynamics of timber procurement for the great houses. Our results corroborate previous efforts to source Chacoan beams by strontium isotope comparisons. Now, with hundreds of sourced beams, we show that prior to A.D. 1020, nearly all beams came from south of Chaco Canyon in the Zuni and San Mateo Mountains. At the onset of major great house construction in the 11th century, timber began to arrive from the Chuska Mountains. By A.D. 1060, the Chuskas had eclipsed the southern areas in total wood importation. This shift coincides with a major influx of Chuskan pottery and Narbona Pass Chert, each unique to the Chuskas. Our results thus far demonstrate that the 11th century florescence of Chaco culture was directly tied to, and supported by, outlier communities in the Chuska Mountains.

Cite this Record

The origins of Chaco timbers by tree-ring based sourcing. Christopher Guiterman. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 429423)

Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 17398