Chaco Canyon has one of the most significant concentrations of archaeological remains in North America. Pueblo Bonito, the largest and best known of Chaco’s great houses, was largely excavated in the late 1890s and early 1920s, but then no extensive excavations were conducted at the site until a team of archaeologists from the University of New Mexico began work there in 2004. In exploring the possible evidence of water-control features, archaeologists recovered some 200,000 artifacts. Here they use the artifacts and fauna they found to examine the lives and activities of the inhabitants of Pueblo Bonito as well as to further interpret current models of Chaco archaeology. The contributors particularly focus on questions regarding crafts production, long-distance exchange relationships, and evidence for feasting and other ritual behavior. The results from the 2004–2008 excavations challenge many interpretations related to the daily activities of the Pueblo Bonito population while supporting others.
Often along vast expanses, ancient societies traded certain commodities that were considered valuable either for functional or symbolic reasons – or, rather, a mixture of both factors. A Taste for Green addresses latest research into the acquisition of jade, turquoise or variscite, all of which share a characteristic greenish colour and an engaging appearance once they are polished in the shape of axes or assorted adornments. Papers explore how, in addition to constituting economic transactions, the transfess of these materials were also statements of social liaisons, personal capacities, and relation to places or to unseen forces. The volume centres on two study areas, Western Europe and México/Southwest US, which are far apart not just in geographical terms but also with regard to their chronology and socioeconomic features. While some North and Mesoamerican groups range from relatively complex farming societies up to state-like organisations during the 1st and 2nd millennia AD, the European counterparts are comparatively simpler polities spanning the 5th–3rd millennia BC. By contrasting the archaeological evidence from diverse areas we may gain insights into the role that production/movement of these green stones played in their respective political and ritual economies. Also, we think it useful to compare the scientific approaches applied to this question in different parts of the globe, specially Asia.
Beginning in the tenth century, Chaco Canyon emerged as an important center whose influence shaped subsequent cultural developments throughout the Four Corners area of the American Southwest. Archaeologists investigating the prehistory of Chaco Canyon have long been impressed by its massive architecture, evidence of widespread trading activities, and ancient roadways that extended across the region. Research on Chaco Canyon today is focused on what the remains indicate about the social, political, and ideological organization of the Chacoan people. Communities with great houses located some distance away are of particular interest, because determining how and why peripheral areas became associated with the central canyon provides insight into the evolution of the Chacoan tradition. This volume brings together twelve chapters by archaeologists who suggest that the relationship between Chaco Canyon and outlying communities was not only complex but highly variable. Their new research reveals that the most distant groups may have simply appropriated Chacoan symbolism for influencing local social and political relationships, whereas many of the nearest communities appear to have interacted closely with the central canyon--perhaps even living there on a seasonal basis. The multifaceted approach taken by these authors provides different and refreshing perspectives on Chaco. Their contributions offer new insight into what a Chacoan community is and shed light on the nature of interactions among prehistoric communities.