Geoarchaeological Assessment of Agricultural Quality in an Eolian Landscape

Author(s): Amy Schott

Year: 2019


This is an abstract from the "Archaeological Research in Petrified Forest National Park" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

The region of Petrified Forest National Park on the southern Colorado Plateau is often considered to be a marginal area during prehistoric occupation. This is due to the expected low potential for agriculture, and the location in between major cultural centers. This study uses geoarchaeology to engage the question of whether this landscape is a marginal area and to further examine agricultural potential in the landscape of Petrified Forest National Park, which is dominated by sandy, eolian soils. Specifically, this study tests the inference that the area is only of marginal quality for cultivating crops using analyses of soil physical and chemical properties. Results confirm that soils are of low agricultural quality, but within the range to support crops. The area’s geologic setting may have improved the water holding capacity for the sandy soils, and local microenvironments likely played a role in selection of agricultural fields. Despite the low potential for agriculture, the area was occupied nearly continuously from the Basketmaker II through Pueblo IV periods (c. AD 400-1450) and shows evidence for long-distance trade and extensive movement within the region. This suggests that social factors may have been an important draw for habitation of the region.

Cite this Record

Geoarchaeological Assessment of Agricultural Quality in an Eolian Landscape. Amy Schott. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 452490)

Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 25048