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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
134 posts

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  • January 13, 2012
  • 02:42 AM
  • 681 views

Does Language Density Correlate with Latitude?

by teofilo in Gambler's House

Tim De Chant at Per Square Mile has an interesting post discussing an article by Ruth Mace and Mark Pagel in which they did a statistical analysis of the distribution of Native languages at European contact in North America and found that the density of languages correlates inversely with latitude (when controlling for land area) [...]... Read more »

Mace, R., & Pagel, M. (1995) A Latitudinal Gradient in the Density of Human Languages in North America. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 261(1360), 117-121. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.1995.0125  

  • August 17, 2010
  • 08:41 PM
  • 676 views

The Dental Evidence for Agriculture

by teofilo in Gambler's House

I’ve recently been discussing stable isotope analysis as a way to directly determine dietary practices from skeletal evidence, and that is certainly a powerful tool in learning about past societies, but there are some drawbacks to it.  Like all complicated laboratory procedures, it’s expensive, and it has the additional problem of being destructive.  If it’s [...]... Read more »

  • May 25, 2011
  • 05:04 PM
  • 675 views

What Is a Kiva?

by teofilo in Gambler's House

As I mentioned in the previous post, one of the ongoing debates in Chacoan architectural studies concerns the function of the round rooms that are very noticeable and numerous at the excavated great houses in the canyon.  The standard interpretation for many years, which is still fairly common among archaeologists and nearly universal among the [...]... Read more »

  • January 25, 2010
  • 01:45 AM
  • 672 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 »

  • January 22, 2012
  • 04:47 AM
  • 671 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 »

  • October 24, 2010
  • 10:16 PM
  • 670 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 26, 2010
  • 09:39 PM
  • 668 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 »

  • May 22, 2012
  • 12:56 AM
  • 664 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  

  • March 26, 2012
  • 03:48 AM
  • 663 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
  • 661 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  

  • May 19, 2010
  • 12:48 AM
  • 660 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  

  • February 28, 2010
  • 09:07 PM
  • 655 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 »

  • January 30, 2012
  • 03:16 AM
  • 652 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
  • 652 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 »

  • April 18, 2010
  • 01:45 PM
  • 647 views

Atlatls to Bows: First Things First

by teofilo in Gambler's House

Everyone is familiar with the bow and arrow, but what on earth is an atlatl?  Although this implement was once used all over the world and was an important part of life, in most areas it was replaced by other weapons so long ago that it is no longer remembered, and most people today have [...]... Read more »

Howard, C. (1974) The Atlatl: Function and Performance. American Antiquity, 39(1), 102. DOI: 10.2307/279223  

  • December 27, 2011
  • 02:15 AM
  • 646 views

Ram Mesa: A Reasonable Case for Witchcraft Execution without Cannibalism

by teofilo in Gambler's House

One of the most notable examples of an assemblage of highly mutilated human remains from the Southwest being attributed to witchcraft execution rather than cannibalism, in accordance with J. Andrew Darling’s theory discussed in the previous post, is Ram Mesa, southwest of Chaco Canyon near Gallup, NM.  This site was excavated by the University of [...]... Read more »

  • March 31, 2013
  • 02:01 AM
  • 642 views

The Numic Spread

by teofilo in Gambler's House

The Great Basin and northern Colorado Plateau were occupied at the time of European Contact (generally between the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century for this region) by a variety of relatively small groups of hunter-gatherers, all of whom spoke closely related languages belonging to the Uto-Aztecan language family. By the early twentieth century these [...]... Read more »

  • April 29, 2014
  • 01:08 AM
  • 638 views

The Evidence from Linguistic Contact

by teofilo in Gambler's House

As I mentioned in the last post, I don’t think the linguistic relationships among the modern Pueblo languages shed much light on the details of the relationships between ancient and modern Pueblo groups. However, that’s not to say that linguistics is totally useless in addressing this issue. There’s another type of linguistic evidence which has […]... Read more »

  • January 9, 2012
  • 04:00 AM
  • 637 views

Who Were the Padouca?

by teofilo in Gambler's House

In 1827 William Clark, who had attained national fame as co-leader of the Lewis and Clark Expedition more than 20 years earlier and had gone on to a successful career as an Indian Agent and governor of the Missouri Territory, obtained title to 37,000 acres in western Kentucky along the Ohio River that had been [...]... Read more »

Grinnell, G. (1920) Who Were the Padouca?. American Anthropologist, 22(3), 248-260. DOI: 10.1525/aa.1920.22.3.02a00050  

Michelson, T. (1921) Who Were the Padouca?. American Anthropologist, 23(1), 101-101. DOI: 10.1525/aa.1921.23.1.02a00120  

  • August 5, 2010
  • 03:51 PM
  • 635 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  

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