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128 posts · 76,818 views

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

teofilo
128 posts

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  • February 28, 2010
  • 09:07 PM
  • 581 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 »

  • May 19, 2010
  • 12:48 AM
  • 578 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 30, 2012
  • 03:16 AM
  • 572 views

Where Did the Cahokians Come From?

by teofilo in Gambler's House

Regardless of exactly how many people lived at Cahokia, it’s clear from recent research that the population of the site and its immediately surrounding area grew immensely in a short period of time in the eleventh century AD. As Timothy Pauketat points out in the 2003 article that I was discussing earlier, the scale of [...]... Read more »

  • March 11, 2012
  • 05:56 AM
  • 572 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 »

  • May 25, 2011
  • 09:29 PM
  • 571 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 »

  • December 16, 2010
  • 12:50 AM
  • 569 views

Speaking of Wupatki

by teofilo in Gambler's House

The paper by Glenn Davis Stone and Christian Downum that I mentioned in the last post, which evaluated the archaeological record of the Wupatki area of northern Arizona in the light of Ester Boserup‘s theory of agricultural intensification, was based largely on the data from an extensive archaeological survey of Wupatki National Monument done by [...]... Read more »

  • October 15, 2010
  • 05:47 PM
  • 568 views

Why Do Americans Have Yards?

by teofilo in Gambler's House

Today is Blog Action Day, and the topic is water.  I did a post for this last year when the topic was climate change, so I figured I’d do it again.  Water is obviously a huge issue, especially in the arid Southwest, so there are a lot of directions I could go with this.  I [...]... Read more »

  • May 22, 2012
  • 12:56 AM
  • 565 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  

  • June 4, 2010
  • 12:31 AM
  • 558 views

Atlatls to Bows: Enter the Bow

by teofilo in Gambler's House

I’ve said quite a lot about atlatls, so perhaps it’s time to move on to the second part of this series.  The bow and arrow is a sufficiently popular weapon system even today that it doesn’t need much introduction.  It’s important to note, however, that most archaeologists have concluded that the bow and arrow is [...]... Read more »

Evans, O. (1957) Probable Use of Stone Projectile Points. American Antiquity, 23(1), 83. DOI: 10.2307/277288  

Farmer, M. (1994) The Origins of Weapon Systems. Current Anthropology, 35(5), 679. DOI: 10.1086/204331  

  • March 26, 2012
  • 03:48 AM
  • 554 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 »

  • July 15, 2010
  • 04:34 PM
  • 546 views

Why No Wheels?

by teofilo in Gambler's House

I’m back at Chaco and giving tours again, so I’m once again being exposed to visitors’ common questions and preconceptions in a way I haven’t been in a long time.  One thing that seems to surprise a lot of visitors is the fact that the Chacoans apparently had no knowledge of the wheel, or if [...]... Read more »

Ekholm, G. (1946) Wheeled Toys in Mexico. American Antiquity, 11(4), 222. DOI: 10.2307/275722  

  • January 25, 2010
  • 01:45 AM
  • 545 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 »

  • August 5, 2010
  • 03:51 PM
  • 544 views

The Context for Early Maize at Chaco

by teofilo in Gambler's House

In my earlier post about Stephen Hall‘s recent paper reporting on maize pollen at Chaco Canyon dating as early as 2500 BC, I said briefly that this really shouldn’t be surprising to anyone who’s been following this kind of research closely, and also that I would discuss the context for it later.  Basically, the context [...]... Read more »

Merrill, W., Hard, R., Mabry, J., Fritz, G., Adams, K., Roney, J., & MacWilliams, A. (2009) The diffusion of maize to the southwestern United States and its impact. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 106(50), 21019-21026. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0906075106  

  • December 25, 2010
  • 02:40 AM
  • 543 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  

  • February 19, 2012
  • 02:05 AM
  • 541 views

Mississippian Agriculture

by teofilo in Gambler's House

One of the main ways Mississippian societies differed from earlier societies in eastern North America was in their much heavier reliance on maize agriculture for subsistence. There had been agriculture, and even maize, before in the east, but the Mississippians farmed much more intensively and used maize in particular much more heavily than people had [...]... Read more »

Fowler, M. (1969) Middle Mississippian Agricultural Fields. American Antiquity, 34(4), 365. DOI: 10.2307/277733  

  • August 17, 2010
  • 04:24 PM
  • 540 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 »

  • August 10, 2010
  • 11:30 PM
  • 538 views

The Turkey Connection

by teofilo in Gambler's House

In a comment to the previous post, Alan Reed Bishop brings up an issue closely related to the recent evidence for early maize cultivation in Chaco Canyon: the introduction of domesticated turkeys to the Southwest.  A recent study of archaeological turkey remains found that the majority of the turkeys found in Southwestern archaeological sites are [...]... Read more »

  • October 24, 2010
  • 10:16 PM
  • 537 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 »

  • December 19, 2011
  • 04:09 AM
  • 537 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  

  • June 7, 2012
  • 02:55 AM
  • 537 views

Ten Thousand Smokes, One Hundred Years

by teofilo in Gambler's House

One hundred years ago today, one of the biggest volcanic eruptions in recorded history took place in southwestern Alaska. The volcano, known as Novarupta, is located in what is now Katmai National Park, which was established in 1918 as a direct result of the eruption and its effects on the landscape. As a result, this [...]... Read more »

Dailey, I. (1912) Report of the Eruption of Katmai Volcano. Bulletin of the American Geographical Society, 44(9), 641. DOI: 10.2307/200811  

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