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A blog discussing a variety of subjects related to Chaco Canyon, the prehistoric American Southwest, and their complex connections to the world today.

teofilo
135 posts

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  • August 16, 2010
  • 08:05 PM
  • 691 views

Basketmaker Subsistence

by teofilo in Gambler's House

One of the important questions in understanding the spread of agriculture into the Southwest from Mexico is when Southwestern peoples became dependent on it for their subsistence.  It is generally accepted that this dependence was in place by the Pueblo I period, which is defined as starting around AD 750 in most areas, but there [...]... Read more »

  • August 19, 2010
  • 04:32 PM
  • 690 views

About Those Chaco Burials

by teofilo in Gambler's House

In discussing a recent paper using stable-isotope techniques to evaluate subsistence in the Southwest during the Basketmaker period, I mentioned that one of the control samples used for contextual comparisons of the Basketmaker results came from Chaco Canyon great house burials.  I don’t know how on earth the Utah-based researchers managed to get permission to [...]... Read more »

  • February 20, 2012
  • 03:07 AM
  • 687 views

Cahokia’s Grand Plaza

by teofilo in Gambler's House

  Mississippian societies are known for their mounds, but there’s more to them than that even if you just look at community layout at the largest centers. One of the most distinctive characteristics of Mississippian mound centers is that the mounds at the biggest centers are typically grouped very formally around a central plaza. Historic [...]... Read more »

Holley, G., Dalan, R., & Smith, P. (1993) Investigations in the Cahokia Site Grand Plaza. American Antiquity, 58(2), 306. DOI: 10.2307/281972  

  • December 19, 2011
  • 04:09 AM
  • 686 views

The Puzzling Dena’ina

by teofilo in Gambler's House

As I mentioned in the last post, it’s generally thought that the Athapaskan migrations which eventually led to the entrance of the Navajos and Apaches into the Southwest began in Alaska.  The northern Athapaskan languages are actually spoken over a very large area of northwestern Canada as well, but the linguistic evidence clearly points to [...]... Read more »

Osgood, C. (1933) Tanaina Culture. American Anthropologist, 35(4), 695-717. DOI: 10.1525/aa.1933.35.4.02a00070  

  • January 6, 2013
  • 02:50 AM
  • 685 views

Capturing the Fremont

by teofilo in Gambler's House

Many of the prehistoric cultures of the Southwest are routinely described as “mysterious,” most often in popular accounts and tourist information but also sometimes in the more serious archaeological literature. This is certainly true in a sense, in that a lot of information about any given ancient society, especially one without writing, is gone forever [...]... Read more »

Gunnerson, J. (1956) Plains-Promontory Relationships. American Antiquity, 22(1), 69. DOI: 10.2307/276168  

Madsen, D., & Simms, S. (1998) The Fremont Complex: A Behavioral Perspective. Journal of World Prehistory, 12(3), 255-336. DOI: 10.1023/A:1022322619699  

  • August 1, 2014
  • 01:18 AM
  • 683 views

The Evidence from Skull Measurements

by teofilo in Gambler's House

So far in this series of posts on “tracing the connections” between ancient Pueblo sites like Chaco Canyon and modern Pueblos, I’ve discussed evidence from linguistics and folklore, but of course if the issue is determining which modern groups are physically descended from which ancient ones it’s hard to beat evidence from actual physical remains. […]... Read more »

Schillaci, M., & Stojanowski, C. (2002) A Reassessment of Matrilocality in Chacoan Culture. American Antiquity, 67(2), 343. DOI: 10.2307/2694571  

  • September 30, 2013
  • 01:57 AM
  • 682 views

This Chocolate Stuff Is Getting Weird

by teofilo in Gambler's House

The initial discovery of chemical markers for chocolate on potsherds from Chaco Canyon in 2009 was a hugely significant development in understanding Chaco. The evidence for the presence of chocolate, a Mesoamerican product that couldn’t possibly have been locally grown and is very unlikely to have been gradually traded northward through a series of intermediaries, […]... Read more »

  • May 11, 2010
  • 12:21 AM
  • 680 views

Atlatls to Bows: Loopy

by teofilo in Gambler's House

Intact atlatls are rarely found, but when they are it’s usually in the Southwest or the Great Basin, arid regions with good preservation conditions for perishable materials like wood and leather.  Some, but not all, of the examples that have been found in these areas have pieces of leather attached as apparent finger loops to [...]... Read more »

  • August 17, 2010
  • 04:24 PM
  • 677 views

So What Did the Turkeys Eat?

by teofilo in Gambler's House

As if on cue, given that I’ve been talking about turkey husbandry and stable isotope testing of human remains, a paper in the latest issue of the Journal of Archaeological Science combines the two, using similar stable isotope techniques on turkey remains from sites in southwestern Colorado to determine what the turkeys were eating.  The [...]... Read more »

  • December 25, 2010
  • 02:40 AM
  • 672 views

The C Word

by teofilo in Gambler's House

Near the very end of his report on the excavations at Pueblo Bonito by the Hyde Expedition in the 1890s, George Pepper wrote the following: The finding of cracked and calcined bones in some of the rooms brings up the question of the eating of human flesh by the people of this pueblo.  There was [...]... Read more »

Dongoske, K., Martin, D., & Ferguson, T. (2000) Critique of the Claim of Cannibalism at Cowboy Wash. American Antiquity, 65(1), 179. DOI: 10.2307/2694813  

Lambert, P., Leonard, B., Billman, B., Marlar, R., Newman, M., & Reinhard, K. (2000) Response to Critique of the Claim of Cannibalism at Cowboy Wash. American Antiquity, 65(2), 397. DOI: 10.2307/2694066  

  • September 5, 2010
  • 11:10 PM
  • 661 views

Do the Chaco Effigy Vessels Portray Kachinas?

by teofilo in Gambler's House

One noteworthy thing about George Pepper’s interpretations of the effigy vessels found at Pueblo Bonito is his attempt to link them to specific Hopi kachinas.  He does find a general similarity in facial and body decoration between one of the partial vessels, found in Room 38, and one kachina and notes at the end of [...]... Read more »

  • June 10, 2011
  • 10:29 PM
  • 657 views

Colin Renfrew Has a Hammer

by teofilo in Gambler's House

Kristina Killgrove has an interesting post on the numerous broken Cycladic figurines on the Greek island of Keros that have been documented over the past few years by the prominent British archaeologist Colin Renfrew.  Renfrew’s interpretation seems to be that these figurines were deliberately broken in various Cycladic communities, then deliberately brought to Keros to [...]... Read more »

  • July 7, 2013
  • 07:18 PM
  • 647 views

Lessons from Bolivia

by teofilo in Gambler's House

I often read articles on the archaeology of other parts of the world to gain a better understanding of the context for Chaco. The areas I focus on for this are primarily those that had interesting things going on contemporaneous with the Chacoan era, but I also look to some extent on archaeological phenomena in […]... Read more »

  • January 16, 2012
  • 02:49 AM
  • 645 views

The Vacant Quarter

by teofilo in Gambler's House

One of the major advantages Southwestern archaeologists have over those studying other areas of prehistoric North America is a very solid chronology, based primarily on tree-rings and extended by diagnostic pottery types that in many cases changed rapidly. As a result of this chronology, in many parts of the Southwest unexcavated sites can be dated [...]... Read more »

  • September 25, 2010
  • 07:40 PM
  • 643 views

Another Possible Chacoan Effigy Vessel

by teofilo in Gambler's House

Effigy vessels are very rare in the prehistoric Southwest, and human effigy vessels even more so.  Most known examples, especially in the Anasazi area, are of animals, and by far the most common of these are the so-called “duck pots,” a distinctive type of vessel shape that is often considered to be a representation of [...]... Read more »

  • July 10, 2012
  • 04:01 AM
  • 641 views

Where They Got the Obsidian

by teofilo in Gambler's House

As I’ve discussed before, the patterns of use and importation of chipped stone at Chaco are somewhat puzzling. Unlike many other commodities, such as wood, corn, and pottery, which were imported from specific distant locations within the Chacoan sphere of influence in astonishing quantities during the height of Chaco’s regional power, chipped stone seems to [...]... Read more »

  • February 27, 2012
  • 03:25 AM
  • 639 views

Filed Teeth at Cahokia

by teofilo in Gambler's House

One of the distinctive characteristics of Cahokia and its area of strong influence is the prevalence of filed teeth in many human burials. Filing of teeth as a cultural practice was common in Mexico for thousands of years before the Spanish conquest, but further north it is very rare and found mostly at Cahokia and [...]... Read more »

  • February 21, 2012
  • 01:49 AM
  • 637 views

Coring Monks Mound

by teofilo in Gambler's House

Monks Mound is both the largest mound at Cahokia and the largest at any Mississippian site, by a huge margin. It’s 100 feet high and about 1,000 by 800 feet at the base, covering more than 18 acres. Its mass is five times that of the second-largest Mississippian mound (Mound A at the Etowah site [...]... Read more »

Reed, N., Bennett, J., & Porter, J. (1968) Solid Core Drilling of Monks Mound: Technique and Findings. American Antiquity, 33(2), 137. DOI: 10.2307/278515  

  • December 25, 2011
  • 11:15 PM
  • 635 views

Cannibal Christmas Returns: The Witchcraft Theory

by teofilo in Gambler's House

Last year around Christmas I did a series of posts on the evidence for cannibalism in the prehistoric Southwest.  I didn’t cover nearly all that there is to say about this important but controversial issue then, so I figured it would be a good idea to discuss it a bit more this year.  In this [...]... Read more »

  • October 28, 2011
  • 11:50 PM
  • 634 views

The Alaska Highway and Its Past

by teofilo in Gambler's House

On this date in 1942, US Army engineering crews working east from Delta Junction, Alaska and west from Whitehorse, Yukon met up near Beaver Creek, Yukon, completing the Alaska Highway.  For the first time, Alaska was accessible from the Lower 48 by road.  This was a remarkable achievement, especially since it was done in only [...]... Read more »

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