304 pages, 6 x 9
18 illustrations, 20 tables
Release Date:27 Nov 2014

Constructing Community

The Archaeology of Early Villages in Central New Mexico

The University of Arizona Press
In central New Mexico, tourists admire the majestic ruins of old Spanish churches and historic pueblos at Abo, Quarai, and Gran Quivira in Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument. The less-imposing remains of the earliest Indian farming settlements, however, have not attracted nearly as much notice from visitors or from professional archaeologists. In Constructing Community, Alison E. Rautman synthesizes over twenty years of research about this little-known period of early sedentary villages in the Salinas region.

Rautman tackles a very broad topic: how archaeologists use material evidence to infer and imagine how people lived in the past, how they coped with everyday decisions and tensions, and how they created a sense of themselves and their place in the world. Using several different lines of evidence, she reconstructs what life was like for the ancestral Pueblo Indian people of Salinas, and identifies some of the specific strategies that they used to develop and sustain their villages over time.

Examining evidence of each site’s construction and developing spatial layout, Rautman traces changes in community organization across the architectural transitions from pithouses to jacal structures to unit pueblos, and finally to plaza-oriented pueblos. She finds that, in contrast to some other areas of the American Southwest, early villagers in Salinas repeatedly managed their built environment to emphasize the coherence and unity of the village as a whole. In this way, she argues, people in early farming villages across the Salinas region actively constructed and sustained a sense of social community.
There is very little recent information about the Salinas District available in the professional or more popular archaeological literature. Therefore, all of the data in this volume are relevant to scholars working in the Southwest, no matter their particular areas of expertise. The questions explored—the relationships among subsistence practices, mobility, settlement social organization—are of global interest.”—Linda S. Cordell, co-author of Archaeology of the Southwest
There are many other good discussions of Salinas archaeology, but few of these take on the millennia-long Pueblo sequence or the entire region and the relation of this region to neighboring regions. As such, this synthesis will be very useful to archaeologists working throughout the greater Southwest.”—Mark D. Varien, Crow Canyon Archaeological Center
An excellent addition to any archaeologist’s library.”—The Albuquerque Archaeology Society Newsletter
Constructing Community ably examines an alternative trajectory in the development of early villages in the Ancestral Pueblo world and raises a number of new research questions for the Salinas region and beyond.”—New Mexico Historical Review
“Constructing Community succeeds in providing a thorough summary of archaeological research in the Salinas district, effective use of methods and principles developed by US Southwest archaeologists to interpret the social significance of the built environment and a nuanced discussion of social relations among the various groups—households, lineages, corporate groups, political factions and villages—that comprised early village communities in the Salinas district.”—Antiquity
Alison E. Rautman is an associate professor at the Center for Integrative Studies at Michigan State University. Her publications include Reading the Body: Representations and Remains in the Archaeological Record, as well as journal articles regarding the archaeology of central New Mexico. From 2009 to 2012, she served as editor of American Antiquity, the journal of the Society for American Archaeology.
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