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136 posts · 114,583 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
136 posts

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  • July 15, 2010
  • 04:34 PM
  • 765 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  

  • August 5, 2010
  • 03:51 PM
  • 765 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  

  • February 19, 2012
  • 02:05 AM
  • 765 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 22, 2012
  • 01:25 AM
  • 762 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 »

  • April 28, 2013
  • 03:21 AM
  • 759 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  

  • January 25, 2010
  • 01:45 AM
  • 758 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 30, 2010
  • 07:03 PM
  • 757 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 »

  • August 17, 2010
  • 08:41 PM
  • 755 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 »

  • December 17, 2010
  • 08:28 PM
  • 754 views

Water Collection at Wupatki

by teofilo in Gambler's House

Wupatki is a very dry place even by the standards of the Southwest, with annual precipitation averaging about 8 inches.  Human habitation in such an arid landscape is therefore highly dependent on capturing as much available moisture as possible.  It appears that the prehistoric inhabitants took advantage of the volcanic ash laid down over the [...]... Read more »

Schroeder, A. (1944) A Prehistoric Method of Collecting Water. American Antiquity, 9(3), 329. DOI: 10.2307/275790  

  • January 30, 2012
  • 03:16 AM
  • 749 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 »

  • September 30, 2013
  • 01:57 AM
  • 749 views

This Chocolate Stuff Is Getting Weird

by teofilo in Gambler's House

The initial discovery of chemical markers for chocolate on potsherds from Chaco Canyon in 2009 was a hugely significant development in understanding Chaco. The evidence for the presence of chocolate, a Mesoamerican product that couldn’t possibly have been locally grown and is very unlikely to have been gradually traded northward through a series of intermediaries, […]... Read more »

  • December 27, 2011
  • 02:15 AM
  • 744 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 »

  • June 4, 2010
  • 12:31 AM
  • 743 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  

  • August 1, 2014
  • 01:18 AM
  • 738 views

The Evidence from Skull Measurements

by teofilo in Gambler's House

So far in this series of posts on “tracing the connections” between ancient Pueblo sites like Chaco Canyon and modern Pueblos, I’ve discussed evidence from linguistics and folklore, but of course if the issue is determining which modern groups are physically descended from which ancient ones it’s hard to beat evidence from actual physical remains. […]... Read more »

Schillaci, M., & Stojanowski, C. (2002) A Reassessment of Matrilocality in Chacoan Culture. American Antiquity, 67(2), 343. DOI: 10.2307/2694571  

  • May 18, 2010
  • 03:10 AM
  • 735 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 »

  • August 19, 2010
  • 04:32 PM
  • 735 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 »

  • June 7, 2012
  • 02:55 AM
  • 731 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  

  • September 5, 2010
  • 01:34 PM
  • 725 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 »

  • December 24, 2011
  • 03:49 AM
  • 722 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 16, 2010
  • 08:05 PM
  • 721 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 »

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