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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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  • November 14, 2010
  • 11:06 PM
  • 791 views

The Mines of the Future and of the Past

by teofilo in Gambler's House

In 1527 an expedition led by the Spanish nobleman Pánfilo de Narváez left Spain with the intention of conquering and colonizing Florida.  Accompanying the expedition as treasurer was Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, who ended up being one of a handful of survivors of the disastrous expedition.  Cabeza de Vaca later wrote an account of [...]... Read more »

  • January 14, 2013
  • 02:52 AM
  • 791 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  

  • December 27, 2010
  • 09:42 PM
  • 785 views

Was There Any Cannibalism during the “Great Drought”?

by teofilo in Gambler's House

The best-known examples of probably cannibalism in the prehistoric Southwest all cluster in a very short period of time and in a relatively small geographic area: around AD 1150 in the area surrounding the modern town of Cortez, Colorado.  Perhaps the most solidly documented of these assemblages is the one at Cowboy Wash on the [...]... Read more »

  • March 26, 2012
  • 03:48 AM
  • 783 views

Mississippian Burial Practices

by teofilo in Gambler's House

One of the major areas of interest for the “New Archaeologists” who came to dominate American archaeology in the late twentieth century was mortuary analysis. In keeping with the arguments of Lewis Binford and other leaders of the movement that archaeology as a discipline should be “problem-oriented” and focused on reconstruction prehistoric societies as fully [...]... Read more »

  • May 25, 2011
  • 09:29 PM
  • 782 views

What Makes a “Kiva” “Great”?

by teofilo in Gambler's House

Although the idea that the small round rooms that area so common at Chacoan sites are ceremonial “kivas” has been increasingly challenged recently, it is still widely accepted that the large, formal, round structures known as “great kivas” were in fact community-wide ceremonial or integrative facilities.  Even Steve Lekson agrees, and he continues to use [...]... Read more »

  • June 12, 2011
  • 10:15 PM
  • 781 views

A Small House near Aztec

by teofilo in Gambler's House

In July 1914 Earl Morris, the pioneering Southwestern archaeologist who would later become famous for his excavations at Aztec and other sites in the region, happened to visit one Eudoro Córdoba, who owned a farm on the Animas River a short distance upstream of the major ruins at Aztec.  On his mantelpiece were various artifacts [...]... Read more »

  • May 22, 2012
  • 12:56 AM
  • 779 views

Linguistics and Archaeology in North America

by teofilo in Gambler's House

The same special issue of the journal World Archaeology that I was discussing in the previous post has an article looking specifically at the relationship between linguistic and archaeological evidence in the study of the prehistory of North America. It is by M. Dale Kinkade and J. V. Powell, two linguists who specialized in the languages [...]... Read more »

Kinkade, M., & Powell, J. (1976) Language and the prehistory of North America. World Archaeology, 8(1), 83-100. DOI: 10.1080/00438243.1976.9979654  

  • February 28, 2010
  • 09:07 PM
  • 771 views

Athapaskan Continuities

by teofilo in Gambler's House

I’ve recently been  looking a bit into the important issue of the migration of Athapaskan-speaking groups ancestral to the Navajos and Apaches into the Southwest.  Although this is one of the most obvious examples of long-distance migration in prehistoric North America, surprisingly little is known about it.  There’s basically no archaeological evidence establishing when it [...]... Read more »

  • June 1, 2014
  • 02:09 AM
  • 768 views

The Evidence from Oral Traditions

by teofilo in Gambler's House

Given the obvious continuity in material culture between ancient and modern Pueblos, one potential source of information on the connections between prehistory and history in the region is the traditions of the modern Pueblos themselves. The florescence of Chaco was about 1000 years ago, so the events since then that led to the modern distribution […]... Read more »

Pradt, G. (1902) Shakok and Miochin: Origin of Summer and Winter. The Journal of American Folklore, 15(57), 88. DOI: 10.2307/533476  

  • May 9, 2010
  • 06:03 PM
  • 767 views

Atlatls to Bows: The Hook Brings You Back

by teofilo in Gambler's House

Atlatl weights are the most widespread attachments to atlatls that are durable enough to survive in conditions where the wooden parts decay, but they’re not the only attachments known to have been used.  Another type of attachment, of more obvious function though of much more limited range, is the “hook” or “spur” near the back [...]... Read more »

Goslin, R. (1944) A Bone Atlatl Hook from Ohio. American Antiquity, 10(2), 204. DOI: 10.2307/275117  

Riddell, F., & McGeein, D. (1969) Atlatl Spurs from California. American Antiquity, 34(4), 474. DOI: 10.2307/277746  

  • December 26, 2010
  • 09:39 PM
  • 764 views

What Happened at Cowboy Wash?

by teofilo in Gambler's House

In comments to the previous post, Graham King raises an important question: assuming that the assemblages of broken, burned, and otherwise unusually treated bones at sites like 5MT10010 at Cowboy Wash represent incidents of cannibalism, what does this mean culturally and historically?  After all, cannibalism has occurred in various contexts in many societies, including our [...]... Read more »

  • April 2, 2010
  • 11:45 PM
  • 757 views

The Importance of Scale

by teofilo in Gambler's House

Mike Smith has an interesting post about the scale of monumental architecture, focusing on the fact that the Templo Mayor in the Aztec capital Tenochtitlan, one of the best-known archaeological sites in Mesoamerica, would fit comfortably as one of several similarly sized elements on the enormous platform at the heart of Tzintzuntzan, the capital of [...]... Read more »

  • December 21, 2013
  • 05:52 PM
  • 754 views

Facing the Winter Sun

by teofilo in Gambler's House

Today is the winter solstice, which also makes it the fifth anniversary of this blog. I tend to like to post about archaeoastronomy on these occasions, and as I mentioned in the previous post I’m currently in Albuquerque and have been reading up on the archaeology of the Rio Grande Valley. Luckily, a recent article […]... Read more »

Lakatos, SA. (2007) Cultural Continuity and the Development of Integrative Architecture in the Northern Rio Grande Valley of New Mexico, A.D. 600-1200. Kiva, 73(1), 31-66. info:/

  • October 24, 2010
  • 10:16 PM
  • 752 views

Mesa Verde Water Control

by teofilo in Gambler's House

I’ve previously discussed water control technologies at Chaco, where they were particularly important given the extreme aridity of that area even by Southwestern standards.  There is abundant evidence, however, that water control was a widespread activity throughout the ancient Southwest, even in areas with more reliable water sources.  The best-studied water control systems have been [...]... Read more »

  • May 19, 2010
  • 12:48 AM
  • 750 views

Atlatls to Bows: A Very Strange Atlatl from Washington State

by teofilo in Gambler's House

Sometime in the early 1950s a wooden object was dredged from the mouth of the Skagit River, north of Seattle.  It ended up in the possession of Mr. and Mrs. Edwin Johnson, residents of the nearby town of La Conner.  In 1952 the Johnsons showed it to two local archaeologists, Herbert Taylor of Western Washington [...]... Read more »

Taylor, H., & Caldwell, W. (1954) Carved Atlatl from Northwest Coast. American Antiquity, 19(3), 279. DOI: 10.2307/277136  

  • January 22, 2012
  • 04:47 AM
  • 749 views

The Density of Cahokia

by teofilo in Gambler's House

The greatest of the Mississippian mound centers, by far, is Cahokia. This vast site contains numerous mounds and is located in the American Bottom area of southwestern Illinois, across the Mississippi River from the modern city of St. Louis, Missouri. This is a highly strategic location, very close to the confluence of the two largest [...]... Read more »

  • March 11, 2012
  • 05:56 AM
  • 747 views

The Figurines of Cahokia

by teofilo in Gambler's House

Among the rarest and most fascinating artifacts associated with Mississippian sites are figurines made of carved stone. These are most numerous in the Cahokia area, although they have also been found in various other parts of the Mississippian world, most notably at the Spiro site in Oklahoma. Regardless of where they are found, however, many [...]... Read more »

  • January 7, 2012
  • 02:46 AM
  • 745 views

Gendered Language among the Pueblos

by teofilo in Gambler's House

  This video has attracted some attention in certain corners of the internet.  It features a (very talented) male actor doing a pitch-perfect impersonation of a young woman saying various expressions that are strongly stereotyped as “female” in contemporary American English.  One thing that struck me about watching the video was how it shows how [...]... Read more »

Kroskrity, P. (1983) On Male and Female Speech in the Pueblo Southwest. International Journal of American Linguistics, 49(1), 88. DOI: 10.1086/465769  

Sims, C., & Valiquette, H. (1990) More on Male and Female Speech in (Acoma and Laguna) Keresan. International Journal of American Linguistics, 56(1), 162. DOI: 10.1086/466144  

  • January 25, 2010
  • 01:45 AM
  • 744 views

More on Food Imports to Chaco

by teofilo in Gambler's House

The paper I discussed earlier about evidence that corn was imported to Chaco was interesting, but while it provided important information about the poorly understood “Mesa Verdean” period after the fall of the Chaco system it didn’t address the question of food imports during the operation of that system.  This has been a topic of [...]... Read more »

  • December 17, 2010
  • 08:28 PM
  • 744 views

Water Collection at Wupatki

by teofilo in Gambler's House

Wupatki is a very dry place even by the standards of the Southwest, with annual precipitation averaging about 8 inches.  Human habitation in such an arid landscape is therefore highly dependent on capturing as much available moisture as possible.  It appears that the prehistoric inhabitants took advantage of the volcanic ash laid down over the [...]... Read more »

Schroeder, A. (1944) A Prehistoric Method of Collecting Water. American Antiquity, 9(3), 329. DOI: 10.2307/275790  

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