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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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  • August 17, 2010
  • 08:41 PM
  • 733 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 »

  • March 11, 2012
  • 05:56 AM
  • 733 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 »

  • July 15, 2010
  • 04:34 PM
  • 729 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  

  • February 19, 2012
  • 02:05 AM
  • 729 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  

  • December 25, 2011
  • 01:49 AM
  • 725 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  

  • December 27, 2011
  • 02:15 AM
  • 725 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 »

  • January 30, 2012
  • 03:16 AM
  • 724 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 »

  • June 7, 2012
  • 02:55 AM
  • 713 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  

  • April 28, 2013
  • 03:21 AM
  • 708 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  

  • June 4, 2010
  • 12:31 AM
  • 707 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  

  • October 31, 2013
  • 03:32 AM
  • 706 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  

  • December 24, 2011
  • 03:49 AM
  • 702 views

Athapaskan Influence on Tewa

by teofilo in Gambler's House

There’s been quite a bit of research on relations between the Pueblo and Athapaskan peoples of the American Southwest, most of it falling within the broad domain of ethnography or sociocultural anthropology.  That is, there is quite a lot of evidence that some of the Athapaskan-speaking Apache groups, especially the Navajos, have been in close [...]... Read more »

Kroskrity, P. (1985) Areal-Historical Influences on Tewa Possession. International Journal of American Linguistics, 51(4), 486. DOI: 10.1086/465943  

  • August 10, 2010
  • 11:30 PM
  • 697 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 »

  • April 18, 2010
  • 01:45 PM
  • 696 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 22, 2012
  • 01:25 AM
  • 695 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 30, 2010
  • 07:03 PM
  • 690 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 »

  • September 5, 2010
  • 01:34 PM
  • 688 views

About Those Effigy Vessels

by teofilo in Gambler's House

Okay, I said I would say more about George Pepper’s description of the effigy vessels from Chaco, so here goes.  One interesting thing that he notes is that these are the northernmost examples of human effigy vessels found in the Southwest.  I believe this is still the case over a hundred years later; in general, [...]... Read more »

  • June 23, 2012
  • 03:56 AM
  • 687 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 »

  • August 16, 2010
  • 08:05 PM
  • 685 views

Basketmaker Subsistence

by teofilo in Gambler's House

One of the important questions in understanding the spread of agriculture into the Southwest from Mexico is when Southwestern peoples became dependent on it for their subsistence.  It is generally accepted that this dependence was in place by the Pueblo I period, which is defined as starting around AD 750 in most areas, but there [...]... Read more »

  • December 16, 2010
  • 12:50 AM
  • 685 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 »

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