Challenging the Village Concept: Bayesian Analysis and Chemical Characterization in the Mogollon Early Pithouse Period of the US Southwest




Barkwill Love, Lori Lee

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The traditional view of the Mogollon Early Pithouse period (AD 200–700) in southwestern New Mexico and southeastern Arizona is that the introduction of ceramics, an increase in maize use, and pithouses equaled sedentary village formation. More recent research, however, has argued that mobility and foraging remained important strategies throughout the Early Pithouse period. Thus, there are many questions and debates regarding cultural changes that occurred during the Mogollon Early Pithouse period. My research uses ceramics, obsidian, and radiocarbon dates to challenge the traditional village concept and revaluates some of the cultural changes that occurred during the Mogollon Early Pithouse period.

I use the circulation of pottery, analyzed by technological style and neutron activation analysis, as well as obsidian procurement, analyzed by X-ray fluorescence, to infer social interaction and mobility. In addition, I use Bayesian chronological modeling to re-evaluate the Mogollon Pithouse chronology and landform use as well as determine pithouse contemporaneity. My results suggest that there was considerable social interaction and likely mobility with and between regions, sites, and even households. Furthermore, there does not appear to be a major shift in landform use around AD 550 and few pithouses were occupied contemporaneously at any given time. These findings challenge the village concept and suggest that Mogollon Early Pithouse sites are likely palimpsests of asynchronous households with different social histories.


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Bayesian Analysis, Chronology, Mogollon, Neutron Activation Analysis, Pithouse, Southwest