Chaco Canyon: Dispersed Settlement, Dialectical Tension, and the Rise of an Ancient Polity in the Southwest U.S.
Author(s): Ruth Van Dyke
Two dozen monumental buildings lie at the heart of Chaco Canyon, a UNESCO World Heritage site in the Southwest United States. However, ancient Chaco Canyon was not a single locality but a focal point for outlier settlements spanning a region of 60,000 square miles. The canyon-outlier relationship is key to understanding the Chacoan polity. Residents of canyon and outlier settlements within a dialectical relationship gathered periodically to share resources, marriage partners, and ritual knowledge. When contradictions within this relationship reached a tipping point, a group of small-scale, dispersed farmers transformed into a centralized, hierarchical rituality where secret ceremonial knowledge legitimated elite political authority.
This Resource is Part of the Following Collections
- Society for American Archaeology 82nd Annual Meeting, Vancouver, BC (2017) •
- Cities, Large Villages, or Neither? The Conundrum of "Megasites" in Prehistory
Cite this Record
Chaco Canyon: Dispersed Settlement, Dialectical Tension, and the Rise of an Ancient Polity in the Southwest U.S.. Ruth Van Dyke. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 430825)
North America - Southwest
min long: -115.532; min lat: 30.676 ; max long: -102.349; max lat: 42.033 ;
Abstract Id(s): 14343