Geoarchaeology of the Basketmaker Communities Project: Informing Past and Present Agricultural Sustainability

Author(s): Cynthia Fadem; Shanna Diederichs

Year: 2019


This is an abstract from the "Adopting the Pueblo Fettle: The Breadth and Depth of the Basketmaker III Cultural Horizon" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

Sustainable land-use is critical to the past, present, and future of human occupation of the desert Southwest. Our work on the Basketmaker Communities Project (BCP) and Pueblo Farming Project (PFP) demonstrates that pedogenic mineral accumulation and water stress are likely the limiting factors for agriculture in this region. Overall we find no pattern of nutrient depletion at BCP sites or in PFP gardens. With mineral accumulation limiting crop yield, its impacts on Basketmaker and Pueblo farmers would have been substantial. Settlement strategy and farming technology would have evolved in response to induration, which opens new avenues of archaeological and agricultural inquiry. Though climate conditions do not change substantially at PFP and BCP spatial scales, soil tilth does, giving things like fine-scale geomorphic modeling, check dam surveying, and site-specific paleoenvironmental reconstruction the potential to open new avenues of research for the Southwest Neolithic. The identification of soil and climate refugia, especially if these areas co-locate with check dams or specific geomorphic contexts, would provide greater insight into the productivity, patchiness, and scale of agricultural land-use in times of water stress.

Cite this Record

Geoarchaeology of the Basketmaker Communities Project: Informing Past and Present Agricultural Sustainability. Cynthia Fadem, Shanna Diederichs. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 451323)

Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 25390