The Politics of Mud, Masonry and Landscape at the Aztec North Great House

Author(s): Michelle I. Turner

Year: 2018


The Aztec North great house is a monumental Chaco-era building at Aztec Ruins National Monument, in northern New Mexico. Its size, its shape and its dramatic hilltop siting all echo construction norms for other great houses at Chaco Canyon and its outliers, but excavation revealed a surprising set of architectural features. In addition to a fairly typical great house artifact assemblage, we found Chaco-style wall foundations and masonry veneers, but non-Chacoan adobe wall cores. Drawing on ideas of social landscape and the materiality of mud and masonry construction, this paper explores the cultural and sociopolitical meaning of these architectural choices. Building with both adobe and stone implies a different organization of labor than a masonry structure, and perhaps participation by a wider subset of the community. Moreover, the adobe and its extravagant use of water differentiate this building from other Chaco-era structures. How might questions of labor and construction choices illuminate our understanding of political forces? Within the context of Aztec Ruins as a riverside community in an arid region, this paper considers the phenomenology of stone and mud construction, explores ideas of home and tradition, and connects the site to a greater social and political landscape.

Cite this Record

The Politics of Mud, Masonry and Landscape at the Aztec North Great House. Michelle I. Turner. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 443330)

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

Spatial Coverage

min long: -123.97; min lat: 37.996 ; max long: -101.997; max lat: 46.134 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 22193