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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
138 posts

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  • June 6, 2010
  • 05:54 PM
  • 908 views

Atlatls to Bows: A Serendipitous Lion Hunt

by teofilo in Gambler's House

Like atlatls, but to an even greater degree, bows are rare in the archaeological record because they were made of perishable materials.  While some types of atlatls had more durable attachments such as hooks and weights, bows were almost always made of wood and various fibrous materials, except in some areas where they were made [...]... Read more »

  • January 1, 2010
  • 04:34 PM
  • 905 views

On Display

by teofilo in Gambler's House

Yesterday I went with my mom and my sister on the RailRunner to Santa Fe to check out the New Mexico History Museum, behind the Palace of the Governors.  It was the first time any of us had either taken the train or seen the museum, which just opened in 2009, and we were very [...]... Read more »

  • April 9, 2010
  • 10:42 PM
  • 904 views

The Invention of Agriculture

by teofilo in Gambler's House

Earlier I mentioned recent research suggesting that the heartland of Mesoamerican agriculture was in western Mexico, which has important implications for the place of that region in Mesoamerica as a whole and in areas, like the Southwest, subject to Mesoamerican influence in prehistory.  The main research I was talking about is contained in two papers [...]... Read more »

  • January 16, 2010
  • 10:30 PM
  • 903 views

Importing Food

by teofilo in Gambler's House

One of the most interesting and potentially productive lines of research in Southwestern archaeology these days involves the use of chemical analyses of various archaeological materials to extract more information about the societies that used them than is apparent just from looking at them.  The oldest and most established type of research like this is [...]... Read more »

  • May 25, 2011
  • 09:29 PM
  • 903 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 »

  • January 13, 2012
  • 02:42 AM
  • 903 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  

  • June 12, 2011
  • 10:15 PM
  • 902 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 »

  • December 22, 2012
  • 01:25 AM
  • 897 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 »

  • February 10, 2010
  • 10:40 PM
  • 895 views

Gobble

by teofilo in Gambler's House

So, turkeys.  I mentioned in an earlier post that there’s been an important new paper about turkeys published in PNAS.  It’s been mentioned in two good media accounts linked by Southwestern Archaeology Today in two separate posts.  Unlike most PNAS articles, this one is Open Access, so both the article itself and its supplement are [...]... Read more »

  • December 27, 2010
  • 09:42 PM
  • 895 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 »

  • October 31, 2013
  • 03:32 AM
  • 893 views

Watching the Skywatchers

by teofilo in Gambler's House

I recently finished reading Living the Sky: The Cosmos of the American Indian by Ray Williamson. This is a classic work on the archaeoastronomy of North America, and it’s the best introduction to the subject I’ve found. (Granted, there aren’t many out there.) Although it was written in the 1980s, the research it discusses is […]... Read more »

Aveni AF. (2003) Archaeoastronomy in the Ancient Americas. Journal of Archaeological Research, 11(2), 149-191. DOI: 10.1023/A:1022971730558  

  • January 22, 2012
  • 04:47 AM
  • 889 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 »

  • December 25, 2011
  • 01:49 AM
  • 888 views

The “Kiowa Apaches”: Neither Kiowa Nor Apache?

by teofilo in Gambler's House

The term “Apache” is one of the most widely known names for Native American groups, but it’s actually quite problematic.  There is, I think, a general perception that it refers to a specific “tribe,” but it doesn’t.  What it really is, at least as it’s used today, is a designation for all the Southern Athapaskan [...]... Read more »

Hoijer, H. (1938) The Southern Athapaskan Languages. American Anthropologist, 40(1), 75-87. DOI: 10.1525/aa.1938.40.1.02a00080  

Huld, M. (1985) Regressive Apicalization in Na'isha. International Journal of American Linguistics, 51(4), 461. DOI: 10.1086/465932  

  • August 30, 2010
  • 07:03 PM
  • 886 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 »

  • April 28, 2013
  • 03:21 AM
  • 886 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  

  • February 19, 2012
  • 02:05 AM
  • 884 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  

  • May 8, 2010
  • 07:42 PM
  • 882 views

Atlatls to Bows: Those Puzzling Weights

by teofilo in Gambler's House

Most of what we know about prehistoric North American atlatls comes from the many well-preserved examples found by Alfred Kidder and Samuel Guernsey in the early twentieth century in Basketmaker II rockshelters near Kayenta, Arizona.  We know much more about atlatl use in Mesoamerica, where the atlatl was still widely used in the contact era, [...]... Read more »

Bushnell, D. I. Jr. (1905) Two Ancient Mexican Atlatls. American Anthropologist, 7(2), 218-221. DOI: 10.1525/aa.1905.7.2.02a00040  

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

Peets, O. (1960) Experiments in the Use of Atlatl Weights. American Antiquity, 26(1), 108. DOI: 10.2307/277169  

  • October 24, 2010
  • 10:16 PM
  • 865 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 »

  • July 15, 2010
  • 04:34 PM
  • 864 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  

  • April 2, 2010
  • 11:45 PM
  • 862 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 »

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