Regional Scales: How Big Was Chaco … and Does It Matter?

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In this essay and the attached chapter fragment, I explore regional scales.   The Southwest is a great place to think about regional (large-scale) distributions, because we have tremendous control on the geography of ancient …  what?  What do large-scale distributions mean?   What are we to make of pottery styles which cover large portions of three states?  How do we understand large scale distributions of more esoteric items, like Hohokam ball courts? Continue reading

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Scalar Thresholds

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In this essay and the attached chapter fragment, I deal with “scalar thresholds:” how big can human groups get before X or Y happens?  And why?  Scalar thresholds have been recognized for decades; they are of interest to a wide range of disciplines from philosophy to AI.   I think Southwestern archaeology can ally with evolutionary cognitive science and complexity science to resolve scalar threshold issues – “resolve” as: to make clearer; not as: to solve. Continue reading

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Chaco as Altepetl: Secondary States

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FOR A MORE DEVELOPED VERSION SEE “Chaco altepetl”

If you were directed to this essay from American Archaeology, you may be interested in “Chaco Through the Looking Glass.”

In recent publications and presentations, I advocate new ways of thinking about, and new sources for understanding the ancient Southwest.  Conventionally, Southwestern archaeology refers constantly (explicitly or implicitly) to modern Native groups – most often Pueblos.  Even in the heady, sciency, ahistorical days of New Archaeology, archaeology was still anthropology…or it was nothing.  And anthropological New Archaeology projected modern (i.e. ethnographic) Pueblo kinship systems back to 14th century Mogollon sites (Broken K and Carter Ranch).  Pueblos have always been our principal frame of reference for thinking about the ancient Southwest, at least the north half. Continue reading

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