Southwestern Archaeology Studies Culture
A brief Overview
Southwestern archaeologists classify their subject by combining the concepts of culture area, culture period, cultural identity, material culture trait lists and economic behavior.
For example, Mesa Verde is a place but it also is recognized, when it was flourishing, as having influence over a region — i.e. a culture area. The Archaic or Paleolithic or the Refugee Period are examples of cultural eras or phases. Navajo or Hopi or Ute or Hispanic are cultural identities. Defining Basketmaker II as the dolichocephalic head form, formal burial practices, agricultural, atlatl-using, non-pottery making stage is an example of a trait list classification. And, refering to people as hunter-gatherers or sedentary agriculturalists are classifications based on economic behavior.
It is helpful to realize from the start that experts do not agree on classification and none of us are consistent in applying our terms.
What we offer in the following pages is a general outline of cultural geography for the northeastern portion of the Southwestern cultural region - a view from the upper San Juan Basin and nearby regions.
The unit on Culture Areas defines the Southwest Culture Area as a whole and discusses some of the theoretical issues associated with defining culture areas. Be sure an look at the section on historic maps to see how the region has changed over time.
The unit on Origins contrasts Native American accounts of their origins with the migration myths popular among anthropologists and Western Historians. The Native American accounts can be found in the ethnology texts section of this website.
The unit on the Paleolithic era talks about the major sites, technologies and theories associated with this phase. People often assume that older cultures are less technologically advanced. However the Paleolithic tool kit required a higher degree of technical expertise and is more finely crafted than the tools used by the people who came later. Societies do not alway progress over time.
The unit on the Archaic discusses the long baseline - an adaptation that lasted for thousands of years in the region.
The unit on the Historic Period includes full text of several treaties between various tribes and the US as well as the text of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo of 1848 which gave recognition to existing land claims of SW tribes.
San Juan Basin
|1863-present||Reservation Navajo||Reservation Navajo||US Territorial|
|1770-1863||Cabezon||Cabezon||Mexican/Santa Fe Trail||Cabezon|
|1650s-1770||Gobernador||Gobernador||Post Pueblo Revolt||Gobernador|
|1400-1540||Classic Pueblo IV|
|1100-1400||PIII||McElmo/Mesa Verde PIII||Coalition Pueblo III||Largo-Gallina|
|900-1100||Arboles PII||Bonito PII||Late Developmental Pueblo II|
|700-900||Rosa Piedra PI||White Mound PI||Early Developmental Pueblo I|
|500-700||Sambrito BM III||La Plata BM III||Alameda BM III|
|100-400||Los Pino BM II||Basketmaker II||Rio Rancho BM II|
|BC800-AD100||En Medio||En Medio|
|3200-1800||San Jose||San Jose|
Recent work in Dinetah pushes the beginning of the Dinetah phase back - at least to 1500.
Based on oral history from Jemez, there should probably be a proto-Navajo Apachean period from 1100 to ~1500 A.D.