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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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  • July 15, 2010
  • 04:34 PM
  • 878 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  

  • October 24, 2010
  • 10:16 PM
  • 875 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 »

  • April 2, 2010
  • 11:45 PM
  • 871 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 »

  • March 8, 2010
  • 01:20 AM
  • 870 views

The Volcano Factor

by teofilo in Gambler's House

I’ve written a lot here recently about the Athapaskan migration(s) into the Southwest.  It’s a very interesting topic in a lot of ways.  I find it especially fascinating because although the evidence that it happened is very strong, nothing else about it can be easily determined.  We know that at least one migration of Athapaskan-speakers [...]... Read more »

  • January 7, 2012
  • 02:46 AM
  • 868 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  

  • November 14, 2010
  • 11:06 PM
  • 859 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 »

  • May 22, 2012
  • 12:56 AM
  • 858 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  

  • May 18, 2010
  • 03:10 AM
  • 856 views

Atlatls to Bows: A Very Strange Atlatl from California

by teofilo in Gambler's House

In November of 1793 a British naval expedition commanded by Captain George Vancouver arrived at the small Spanish settlement of Santa Barbara on the coast of California.  Vancouver’s primary mission was to explore and map the poorly understood northwest coast of North America, building on the more preliminary information provided earlier by Captain James Cook.  [...]... Read more »

  • May 19, 2010
  • 12:48 AM
  • 853 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  

  • August 19, 2010
  • 04:32 PM
  • 853 views

About Those Chaco Burials

by teofilo in Gambler's House

In discussing a recent paper using stable-isotope techniques to evaluate subsistence in the Southwest during the Basketmaker period, I mentioned that one of the control samples used for contextual comparisons of the Basketmaker results came from Chaco Canyon great house burials.  I don’t know how on earth the Utah-based researchers managed to get permission to [...]... Read more »

  • January 30, 2012
  • 03:16 AM
  • 853 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 »

  • May 9, 2010
  • 06:03 PM
  • 847 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  

  • September 5, 2010
  • 01:34 PM
  • 837 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 »

  • September 30, 2014
  • 05:23 AM
  • 828 views

The Evidence from DNA

by teofilo in Gambler's House

To wrap up my series on tracing the connections between ancient Pueblo sites like Chaco Canyon and the modern Pueblos, I’d like to discuss a type of evidence I haven’t discussed much but that people often ask about: DNA evidence. This is the most direct way to tie one population to another, at least in theory, […]... Read more »

Raghavan, M., DeGiorgio, M., Albrechtsen, A., Moltke, I., Skoglund, P., Korneliussen, T., Gronnow, B., Appelt, M., Gullov, H., Friesen, T.... (2014) The genetic prehistory of the New World Arctic. Science, 345(6200), 1255832-1255832. DOI: 10.1126/science.1255832  

  • June 4, 2010
  • 12:31 AM
  • 822 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  

  • December 22, 2014
  • 01:11 AM
  • 819 views

Orientation and Identity

by teofilo in Gambler's House

Today is the winter solstice, which means it’s also the sixth anniversary of this  blog. On these anniversaries I like to write about archaeoastronomy, which is a very interesting topic and an important one for understanding Chaco and Southwestern prehistory in general. Last year I wrote about some research indicating that in the Rio Grande valley, […]... Read more »

Malville JM, & Munro AM. (2010) Cultural Identity, Continuity, and Astronomy in Chaco Canyon. Archaeoastronomy, 62-81. info:/

  • January 25, 2010
  • 01:45 AM
  • 814 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 »

  • February 20, 2012
  • 03:07 AM
  • 810 views

Cahokia’s Grand Plaza

by teofilo in Gambler's House

  Mississippian societies are known for their mounds, but there’s more to them than that even if you just look at community layout at the largest centers. One of the most distinctive characteristics of Mississippian mound centers is that the mounds at the biggest centers are typically grouped very formally around a central plaza. Historic [...]... Read more »

Holley, G., Dalan, R., & Smith, P. (1993) Investigations in the Cahokia Site Grand Plaza. American Antiquity, 58(2), 306. DOI: 10.2307/281972  

  • August 17, 2010
  • 08:41 PM
  • 808 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 »

  • August 5, 2010
  • 03:51 PM
  • 807 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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