Investigating Hunter-Gatherer Earth Oven Intensification: a view from the Lower Pecos Canyonlands

Author(s): Stephen Black; Charles Koenig

Year: 2017


Foraging societies in the semi-arid Lower Pecos Canyonlands of southwestern Texas intensified the use of desert succulents over a span of 9,000 years or more for food, fiber, and other uses. Food plants including Agave lechuguilla, sotol, and prickly pear were baked in earth ovens with stone heating elements, an iterative process that left massive residual by-product in the form of fire-cracked rocks and burned and unburned plant refuse in and around baking facilities. The archaeological signatures of earth oven cookery are pervasive and found in almost all settings in the region including open sites in the uplands and river terraces and protected rockshelters in the canyon walls. We have developed a systematic strategy focusing on stratigraphic excavation, 3D modeling, rock quantification, geoarchaeology, radiocarbon dating, and macrobotanical identification to document earth oven cookery at two dry and two wet rockshelters in Eagle Nest Canyon, a short box canyon off the Rio Grande. The resulting data offer an unparalleled look at this characteristic form of landscape intensification. This presentation highlights the archaeological context, our methodological approach and results to date.

Cite this Record

Investigating Hunter-Gatherer Earth Oven Intensification: a view from the Lower Pecos Canyonlands. Stephen Black, Charles Koenig. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 429550)

Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 14336