The Forests and the Trees: Soucing Construction Timbers at Aztec Ruins, NM

Author(s): Ronald Towner; Christopher Guiterman

Year: 2019


This is an abstract from the "SAA 2019: General Sessions" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

Obtaining materials from distant landscapes is a hallmark of the Chacoan world. The movement of nonlocal materials into Chacon Canyon, and around the Chacoan sphere, has fascinated archaeologists for decades. Large construction timbers, in particular, have been subject to intense research because so few trees grow in or near the canyon. At Aztec Ruins, however, some wood resources, including pinyon pine and juniper were available locally. Other species that only grow at higher elevations, including ponderosa pine, Douglas-fir, and spruce, must have been imported from mountain ranges at least 20 km distant. Previous studies have used a variety of techniques to source construction timbers to areas more than 50 km distant from Chaco Canyon itself, but the methods are typically time-consuming and expensive. Here I report our research on possible timber sources used in the Aztec great houses using tree-ring width-based sourcing methods. To date, we have sourced more than 300 beams from Aztec, and have comparable data for great houses both in and outside the canyon. Our results document surprisingly distant timber sources and a dynamic pattern of resource utilization between the 12th and 13th centuries at Aztec East and West Ruins.

Cite this Record

The Forests and the Trees: Soucing Construction Timbers at Aztec Ruins, NM. Ronald Towner, Christopher Guiterman. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 449343)

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): 24222