Placing Ancestral Pueblo Water Management Practices into Ritual Contexts

Author(s): Michael Aiuvalasit

Year: 2018


Across cultures, the ritual use of water is nearly ubiquitous, yet most archaeological studies of water focus primarily on its socio-economic importance. The large (~200-1500 person) mesa-top Ancestral Pueblo (AD 1100-1700) villages of the Jemez Mountains, New Mexico are particularly good contexts for the archaeological study of water because small water storage features, often referred to as reservoirs, are found at many villages across the region. Alternative hypotheses for feature function, such as water storage for domestic use, watery shrines, mortar mixing pits, or some combination thereof, have been proposed, but not tested. Also, archaeologists have given little consideration to how these features may serve as archaeological proxies for Ancestral Pueblo collective action surrounding water in domestic, social, and ritual spaces. As part of recent interdisciplinary investigations into the vulnerabilities of prehispanic Ancestral Pueblo communities to climate change, I used behavioral geoarchaeological approaches to reconstruct the use-life histories of fifteen of these features at nine sites. In this presentation, I focus on the potential ritual significance of feature use-life histories for Ancestral Pueblo of the Jemez Mountains by integrating ethnological and ethnohistorical records of Pueblo water use with geoarchaeological evidence from reservoirs.

Cite this Record

Placing Ancestral Pueblo Water Management Practices into Ritual Contexts. Michael Aiuvalasit. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 445175)

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

Spatial Coverage

min long: -124.365; min lat: 25.958 ; max long: -93.428; max lat: 41.902 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 21126