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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
133 posts

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  • August 30, 2010
  • 07:03 PM
  • 565 views

Human Effigy Vases

by teofilo in Gambler's House

George Pepper’s article on the excavation of Room 33 at Pueblo Bonito is fairly well-known and frequently cited, but he also published a few other articles on specific finds by the Hyde Exploring Expedition that have remained more obscure.  Among these is a chapter in a Festschrift for Franz Boas, similar to the Festschrift for [...]... Read more »

  • January 16, 2012
  • 02:49 AM
  • 561 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 »

  • June 23, 2012
  • 03:56 AM
  • 559 views

Wetherill’s Intellectual Influence

by teofilo in Gambler's House

Today is Wetherill Day, the anniversary of Richard Wetherill’s death in 1910, and as such I would like to continue my tradition of marking the occasion by discussing the complicated and often misunderstood legacy of Wetherill, the pioneering amateur archaeologist who excavated many sites in the Southwest, including most famously Pueblo Bonito at Chaco Canyon. [...]... Read more »

  • December 22, 2012
  • 01:25 AM
  • 557 views

The Circle and the Cross

by teofilo in Gambler's House

Today is a momentous day, of course. As the winter solstice, it marks the fourth anniversary of this blog. It also might be an important date in the Maya Long Count (although opinions differ). It’s not the end of the world, which should be apparent by now. In recognition of the Maya date and my [...]... Read more »

  • August 19, 2010
  • 04:32 PM
  • 556 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 »

  • September 25, 2010
  • 07:40 PM
  • 555 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 »

  • February 27, 2012
  • 03:25 AM
  • 554 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 »

  • September 19, 2010
  • 08:54 PM
  • 551 views

The West Mexican Context of the Chaco Effigy Vessels

by teofilo in Gambler's House

Given the rarity of human effigy vessels in the ancient Southwest, it seems clear that understanding them requires looking elsewhere.  Specifically, it requires looking south, to Mesoamerica, where effigy vessels were quite common starting from an early date.  Since most evidence of Mesoamerican influence in the Southwest seems to point to West Mexico as the [...]... Read more »

Beekman, C. (2009) Recent Research in Western Mexican Archaeology. Journal of Archaeological Research, 18(1), 41-109. DOI: 10.1007/s10814-009-9034-x  

  • December 23, 2010
  • 11:12 PM
  • 549 views

Walls

by teofilo in Gambler's House

Sand Canyon Pueblo, which I discussed in the previous post, is one of the best-known prehistoric communities in the Southwest due to the multi-year research program conducted there by Crow Canyon Archaeological Center in the 1980s and 1990s.  Crow Canyon selected it for this research for a variety of reasons, including its short period of [...]... Read more »

  • October 28, 2011
  • 11:50 PM
  • 549 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 »

  • July 10, 2012
  • 04:01 AM
  • 547 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 21, 2012
  • 01:49 AM
  • 544 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  

  • January 14, 2013
  • 02:52 AM
  • 535 views

What Happened to the Fremont?

by teofilo in Gambler's House

As I mentioned in the previous post, the most mysterious thing about the Fremont is what happened to them. Unlike the Anasazi, who obviously became the modern Pueblos, the Fremont have no obvious connections to any modern groups. Fremont sites appear to disappear around AD 1300 in most areas, although there is some regional variation [...]... Read more »

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

Parr RL, Carlyle SW, & O'Rourke DH. (1996) Ancient DNA analysis of Fremont Amerindians of the Great Salt Lake Wetlands. American journal of physical anthropology, 99(4), 507-18. PMID: 8779335  

Pendergast, D., & Meighan, C. (1959) Folk Traditions as Historical Fact: A Paiute Example. The Journal of American Folklore, 72(284), 128. DOI: 10.2307/538475  

  • February 6, 2012
  • 03:28 AM
  • 531 views

Who the Cahokians Weren’t

by teofilo in Gambler's House

The name “Cahokia” comes from one of the constituent tribes of the Illinois Confederacy, a group of several semi-autonomous “tribes” or “villages” that occupied much of what is now the state of Illinois and parts of some of the surrounding states in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Staunch allies of the French throughout most of [...]... Read more »

  • December 10, 2010
  • 12:58 PM
  • 527 views

Speaking of Plowing

by teofilo in Gambler's House

The postulated connection between plow-based agriculture and a highly inegalitarian system of gender roles that I was talking about in the previous post reminded me of another paper about plowing and gender in a very different context.  This article, by Robin Ganev of the University of Regina, was published in the Journal of the History [...]... Read more »

  • December 25, 2011
  • 11:15 PM
  • 524 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 »

  • July 16, 2013
  • 03:06 AM
  • 522 views

The Paint on the Pots

by teofilo in Gambler's House

When I was working at Chaco, people would ask me a lot of questions. I usually knew the answers, but when I didn’t I was quite upfront about saying so. I would often try to find out the answers to questions that had stumped me, but I didn’t always succeed, and many of those questions […]... Read more »

  • December 22, 2010
  • 11:56 PM
  • 497 views

Prehistoric Zoning

by teofilo in Gambler's House

When I was working at Chaco and would tell visitors that I was going to graduate school for city planning, most people would remark on what a difference that sounded like.  And, indeed, there are a lot of differences between my life when I was at Chaco and my life here at school in New [...]... Read more »

  • April 28, 2013
  • 03:21 AM
  • 489 views

About Those Toltecs

by teofilo in Gambler's House

With increasing evidence for Mesoamerican influence at Chaco in recent years, it’s worth taking a close look at what was going on in Mesoamerica itself during the Chacoan era. As I’ve mentioned before, there is some reason to believe that the most likely area to look to for direct influence in the Southwest is West Mexico, [...]... Read more »

Healan, D. (2012) The Archaeology of Tula, Hidalgo, Mexico. Journal of Archaeological Research, 20(1), 53-115. DOI: 10.1007/s10814-011-9052-3  

  • January 6, 2013
  • 02:50 AM
  • 485 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  

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