Author Archives: stevelekson
Diffusions & Histories
Long, long ago, in a galaxy far, far away … American archaeology banished migration and diffusion as “anti-scientific non-explanations.” Then, sometime around 1990 in the U.S. Southwest, migration resurfaced in a session on Mesa Verde-Rio Grande at the Fourth Southwest … Continue reading
Texts and Contexts
In archaeology, context is everything. Or, so I’ve been told. Archaeological “context” means at least two different things. One is depositional: what was found where, with what? That is, “context” is association. The other meaning comes from CRM: a “historic … Continue reading
Has Ritual Become a Religion?
Two recent essays on Chaco take issue with interpretations which underwrite my posts here: Stephen Plog’s (2011) “Ritual and Cosmology in the Chaco Era” and Barbara Mills’ (2012) “The Archaeology of the Greater Southwest.” Besides not much liking my interpretations, … Continue reading
La Maladie Francaise
Please read “About“! I have from time to time disparaged French social philosophy. It’s not so much the content (it’s that too), but rather the language. To paraphrase Professor Higgins, the French don’t care what they say actually, so long … Continue reading
Please read “About” I was puzzled and somewhat embarrassed by the reactions of many archaeologists to Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel (1997) and Collapse (2005). Diamond reaches large and potentially influential readerships, and he uses archaeology to make points … Continue reading
Cycles — Their Rise and Fall
PLEASE READ “ABOUT“! The Pecos System, promulgated in 1928, offered a Whiggish account of Pueblo pre-history, every day in every way, better and better. Stage by Pecos stage, step by step, the people who would become Pueblos acquired first corn, … Continue reading
Urbanism in the Southwest!
PLEASE READ “ABOUT“! “Montezuma’s Castle” and “Cliff Palace” began as cowboy enthusiasms, fanciful names for dramatic ruins. Today those names are merely tourist bait. The Park Service greets you with denials and corrections: it’s NOT a castle, it’s NOT a … Continue reading
Regional Scales: How Big Was Chaco … and Does It Matter?
Please read “About“!!! 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 … Continue reading
Please read “About“!!! 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 … Continue reading
Chaco as Altepetl: Secondary States
Instead of Puebloan frames of reference, I suggest that we look at what was happening in ancient North America in those times – the Southwest’s actual context. For example: Chaco. Leading interpretations view Chaco through the lens of Pueblo ethnology. I argue that Pueblo societies developed, historically, in reaction to and rejection of Chaco, after 1300. If that is true (and it is), then we need other, independent, non-Puebloan “triangulation points” to define, delimit, and understand Chaco’s (and the Southwest’s) ancient past. Chaco, I think, should be contextualized by its contemporaries, specifically Mesoamerica in the 9th through 13th centuries (Early and Middle Postclassic periods). Continue reading