Crow Canyon Archaeological Center

Cortez, CO, United States

Crow Canyon Archaeological Center

Cortez, CO, United States
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Kyle Bocinsky R.,Crow Canyon Archaeological Center | Varien M.D.,Washington State University
Journal of Ethnobiology | Year: 2017

In agrarian societies, such as the ancestral Pueblo of the Four Corners region of the US Southwest (c. AD 600-1300), the resilience of crops in the face of climate challenges was of paramount concern. Consequently, students of these societies have invested much effort in modeling the response of traditional crops to ancient weather patterns. Less effort has been made to evaluate the quality of those reconstructions with experimental studies. Here, we report on results from the Pueblo Farming Project (PFP), a long-term collaboration between the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center and the Hopi tribe. From 2009 through 2015, PFP researchers and members of the Hopi tribe planted four experimental gardens of Hopi maize (Zea mays) on Crow Canyon's campus in southwestern Colorado using traditional methods. PFP researchers recorded growth progress over the growing season, harvested the corn, measured characteristics of the resulting crop, and derived yield estimates. We present the results of the garden experiments and we compare experimental yields with computational estimates of potential maize yield developed by the Village Ecodynamics Project (VEP). We find that Hopi maize flourishes in this part of the Hopi ancestral land and that PFP experimental yields are highly correlated with VEP yield estimates. We suggest that these PFP data may be used to refine existing maize paleoproductivity estimates, and we propose future directions for farming experiments in the Four Corners. © 2017 Society of Ethnobiology.

Kinder D.H.,Ohio Northern University | Adams K.R.,Crow Canyon Archaeological Center | Wilson H.J.,Ohio Northern University
Journal of Ethnobiology | Year: 2017

The Solanaceae family of plants provides edible fruit (i.e., tomatoes, husk tomatoes, chili peppers, eggplant), tubers (i.e., potatoes), and plants used for leisure activities (i.e., tobacco) that are useful to humans. Several wild members of this family grow in the U.S. Southwest and some were eaten by the Ancestral Puebloans. We present evidence here that the Ancestral Puebloans in the Four-Corners region of the U.S. Southwest-the states of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah-were actively cultivating the tubers of Solanum jamesii to supplement their diets of domesticated corn (Zea mays), beans (Phaseolus sp.), and squash (Cucurbita sp.). This is supported by modern day Native American groups who have used this plant for food either now or in their recorded past. We also propose that this potato tuber was cultivated or allowed to grow in gardens or fields around some major population centers in Puebloan times and that the stands currently growing in or near some of those archaeological habitation sites are legacy stands directly descended from ancient efforts to manage the tubers for food. The plant's location at the northern limits of its current range offers support for this proposal. This potato tuber would have provided a dependable and excellent source of nutrition for the ancestral Puebloans as well. © 2017 Society of Ethnobiology.

Adams K.R.,Crow Canyon Archaeological Center | Johnson K.L.,California State University, Chico | Murphy T.M.,University of California at Davis
Journal of Field Archaeology | Year: 2015

Unburned yucca (Yucca) quids with wild tobacco (Nicotiana) contents have been preserved within Antelope Cave in northwestern Arizona. Although the cave was visited during the Archaic, Southern Paiute, and Euro-American periods, material culture remains and radiocarbon dates indicate the heaviest use by the Virgin Anasazi (A.D. 1-1000). Quids are wads of fiber twisted or knotted into a ball for insertion into the mouth. Ten of the quids examined were clearly made from the fibers of Yucca plants, based on 6-7 base pairs identified via analysis of DNA sequences near the trnL gene of chloroplastic DNA. Twenty-seven of thirty quids examined were wrapped around a range of wild tobacco (Nicotiana) plant parts (e.g., capsule, seed, calyx, pedicel, main stem, leaf). Quids have been interpreted as serving various needs (food, ceremonial/ritual, other). The inclusion of tobacco and the diverse recovery contexts suggest the Antelope Cave quids provided occupants with a personal stimulant experience. © Trustees of Boston University 2015.

Witt K.E.,University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign | Judd K.,Washington State University | Kitchen A.,University of Iowa | Grier C.,Washington State University | And 6 more authors.
Journal of Human Evolution | Year: 2015

As dogs have traveled with humans to every continent, they can potentially serve as an excellent proxy when studying human migration history. Past genetic studies into the origins of Native American dogs have used portions of the hypervariable region (HVR) of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) to indicate that prior to European contact the dogs of Native Americans originated in Eurasia. In this study, we summarize past DNA studies of both humans and dogs to discuss their population histories in the Americas. We then sequenced a portion of the mtDNA HVR of 42 pre-Columbian dogs from three sites located in Illinois, coastal British Columbia, and Colorado, and identify four novel dog mtDNA haplotypes. Next, we analyzed a dataset comprised of all available ancient dog sequences from the Americas to infer the pre-Columbian population history of dogs in the Americas. Interestingly, we found low levels of genetic diversity for some populations consistent with the possibility of deliberate breeding practices. Furthermore, we identified multiple putative founding haplotypes in addition to dog haplotypes that closely resemble those of wolves, suggesting admixture with North American wolves or perhaps a second domestication of canids in the Americas. Notably, initial effective population size estimates suggest at least 1000 female dogs likely existed in the Americas at the time of the first known canid burial, and that population size increased gradually over time before stabilizing roughly 1200 years before present. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.

Crabtree S.A.,Washington State University | Kohler T.A.,Washington State University | Kohler T.A.,Santa Fe Institute | Kohler T.A.,Crow Canyon Archaeological Center
Ecological Modelling | Year: 2012

Agent-based modelling provides a means for understanding both contemporary and future systems, and also the archaeological past. This article explores the appeal of agent-based modelling for understanding archaeological societies. Taken from the 2011 American Association for the Advancement of Science meetings, this paper and the following papers help advance our understanding of both real and modelled systems. © 2012 Elsevier B.V.

Kuckelman K.A.,Crow Canyon Archaeological Center
American Antiquity | Year: 2010

Archaeologists in the Mesa Verde region of the American Southwest have long sought the catalysts of the complete depopulation of the region by Pueblo farmers in the late thirteenth century. Ten years of excavations by the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center at Sand Canyon Pueblo, a large village that was occupied from approximately A.D. 1250 to 1280, yielded abundant data regarding the depopulation of the village and shed new light on causes of this intriguing regional emigration. Comparative analyses of faunal and archaeobotanical remains from middens vs. abandonment assemblages reveal a shift from farming to hunting and gathering that coincided with the onset of the Great Drought about A.D. 1276. Osteological and taphonomic analyses of human remains found in abandonment contexts reveal details of an attack during which many residents were killed and that ended the occupation of the village. These findings from Sand Canyon Pueblo suggest that climate-induced food stress and consequent violent conflict contributed to the depopulation of the Mesa Verde region in the late A.D. 1200s. Copyright © 2010 by the Society for American Archaeology.

Bocinsky R.K.,Washington State University | Kohler T.A.,Washington State University | Kohler T.A.,Santa Fe Institute | Kohler T.A.,Crow Canyon Archaeological Center
Nature Communications | Year: 2014

Humans experience, adapt to and influence climate at local scales. Paleoclimate research, however, tends to focus on continental, hemispheric or global scales, making it difficult for archaeologists and paleoecologists to study local effects. Here we introduce a method for high-frequency, local climate-field reconstruction from tree-rings. We reconstruct the rain-fed maize agricultural niche in two regions of the southwestern United States with dense populations of prehispanic farmers. Niche size and stability are highly variable within and between the regions. Prehispanic rain-fed maize farmers tended to live in agricultural refugia - areas most reliably in the niche. The timing and trajectory of the famous thirteenth century Pueblo migration can be understood in terms of relative niche size and stability. Local reconstructions like these illuminate the spectrum of strategies past humans used to adapt to climate change by recasting climate into the distributions of resources on which they depended. © 2014 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved.

PubMed | Aztec, Millsaps College, University of New Mexico, Hershey Technical Center and 3 more.
Type: Historical Article | Journal: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America | Year: 2015

Chemical analyses of organic residues in fragments of pottery from 18 sites in the US Southwest and Mexican Northwest reveal combinations of methylxanthines (caffeine, theobromine, and theophylline) indicative of stimulant drinks, probably concocted using either cacao or holly leaves and twigs. The results cover a time period from around A.D. 750-1400, and a spatial distribution from southern Colorado to northern Chihuahua. As with populations located throughout much of North and South America, groups in the US Southwest and Mexican Northwest likely consumed stimulant drinks in communal, ritual gatherings. The results have implications for economic and social relations among North American populations.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 245.72K | Year: 2012

With National Science Foundation support, Dr. Scott Ortman and colleagues will conduct two seasons of archaeological research in southwest Colorado, USA. The Basketmaker Communities Project (BCP) is a collaborative, public-private partnership between Crow Canyon Archaeological Center (CCAC), the University of Colorado-Boulder, and landowners in Indian Camp Ranch, a private residential community. The research will examine the demographic, social and environmental impacts of the adoption of domesticated food production in a well-preserved early agricultural settlement dating from the 7th century A.D.

The adoption of domesticated food production is widely acknowledged as a pivotal moment in human evolution that set in motion a number of transformations in human demography, social organization, and environmental relationships. The results of this process are apparent in the archaeological record of Neolithic societies worldwide, but in many regions the archaeological record is either too spotty or too imprecisely-dated to observe these transformations in progress. However, the archaeological record of the northern U.S. Southwest is amenable to such study, and the BCP will take advantage of this opportunity through survey, excavation, and collections research on the Basketmaker III (A.D. 500-750) period in the Mesa Verde region.

Specific project goals are: to determine the relative contribution of migration and intrinsic growth to the formation of Mesa Verde Pueblo society; to place the organization of BMIII communities within the continuum bracketed by Late Archaic foragers and Early Pueblo villages; and to evaluate the anthropogenic legacy of the first farmers to colonize the region. This will be accomplished through re-analysis of well-dated collections, surface survey of a well-preserved BMIII settlement cluster, and excavations at BMIII habitations and public architecture within this cluster.

The BCP will develop a case study of the demographic, social and environmental impacts of the adoption of a Neolithic economy using one of the best-preserved archaeological records available. It will develop refined methods for dating BMIII habitations and will apply these methods to gauge the relative roles of migration and intrinsic population growth to the formation of Mesa Verde Pueblo society. It will also examine the socionatural transformations initiated by the adoption of a Neolithic economy by focusing on the period when they were actually underway. This will extend knowledge of how village communities emerged from the blending of indigenous foragers and immigrant farmers in the U.S. Southwest.

The BCP will also support training and experience in excavation, laboratory and survey methods for 18 student interns and two graduate assistants over the next two years. Several thousand learners aged 12 and up will also participate directly in the research through informal science education programs at CCAC that emphasize the STEM concepts inherent in archaeology, the importance of historic preservation, and the extent of cultural diversity in the United States. American Indians will contribute to the research through service on CCACs Native American Advisory Group. Finally, project results will be disseminated to researchers and the public through publication on CCACs web site, and all project collections will be curated at Crow Canyon or another appropriate facility.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 150.00K | Year: 2012

This award addresses the archaeological issues surrounding the ancestral Pueblo people and their Neolithic revolution or disappearance from the Mesa Verde region of southwestern US. The research describes the people, their living conditions and the environment, their impact on the region and the reason for their exodus to form new societies such as the Tewa-Pueblo society. The research and its results are significant, from both an archaeological and socio-cultural standpoint. An exhibit is planned, to explain and inform the public, in the History Colorado Center in Denver, Colorado, that will transfer this cultural knowledge to the under-served public including Native American and numerous rural residents. The effort is a collaborative endeavor involving the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center in Cortez, Colorado and the new History Colorado Center.

The exhibit will feature a typical living area, a scientific area with discussion of tree rings, and an area for discussion with scientific experts. In addition, the deliverable will include a website for further discussion with scientist and for accessing the latest research efforts.

The evaluation of this project is extensive starting from an overall evaluation of the museum itself and how to make this exhibit a significant part of the museum, pleasing to the audiences and how to improve its impact once the exhibit is open.

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