(Trans)Formation, Centralization, and the Making of a Mesa Verde Village

Author(s): Donna Glowacki

Year: 2017


Our understandings of how socio-complexity developed and the role households played in those developments are often hampered because we lack adequately fine-grained chronological data to identify when and how the relationships among households change. A detailed analysis of architecture and 260 tree-ring dates at Spruce Tree House cliff dwelling has produced a new reconstruction of how the village grew and changed over time at a decade-by-decade level. The village was occupied during the 1200s – a time of significant social and religious transformation, violence, climatic hardship, and the exodus of ancestral Pueblo people from the Mesa Verde region. This new information reveals how village life and social organization was fundamentally altered through increasing centralization that created of a locus of social and religious power within the village during the 1240s. This transition co-occurs with an apparent shift in power from the families who founded the alcove village to newcomers, who likely had new rituals and stronger influence in the community. Evidence of burning and remodeling in specific rooms suggests this transition was also contentious. Insights gained from this study bear on understanding the evolution of social hierarchy in Pueblo society and its 14th-century transformation that de-emphasized rank differences.

Cite this Record

(Trans)Formation, Centralization, and the Making of a Mesa Verde Village. Donna Glowacki. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431624)

Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 15178