Leaving Mesa Verde
456 pages, 6 x 9
42 illustrations, 27 tables
Release Date:15 Oct 2010
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Leaving Mesa Verde

Peril and Change in the Thirteenth-Century Southwest

The University of Arizona Press
It is one of the great mysteries in the archaeology of the Americas: the depopulation of the northern Southwest in the late thirteenth-century AD. Considering the numbers of people affected, the distances moved, the permanence of the departures, the severity of the surrounding conditions, and the human suffering and culture change that accompanied them, the abrupt conclusion to the farming way of life in this region is one of the greatest disruptions in recorded history.
Much new paleoenvironmental data, and a great deal of archaeological survey and excavation, permit the fifteen scientists represented here much greater precision in determining the timing of the depopulation, the number of people affected, and the ways in which northern Pueblo peoples coped—and failed to cope—with the rapidly changing environmental and demographic conditions they encountered throughout the 1200s. In addition, some of the scientists in this volume use models to provide insights into the processes behind the patterns they find, helping to narrow the range of plausible explanations.
What emerges from these investigations is a highly pertinent story of conflict and disruption as a result of climate change, environmental degradation, social rigidity, and conflict. Taken as a whole, these contributions recognize this era as having witnessed a competition between differing social and economic organizations, in which selective migration was considerably hastened by severe climatic, environmental, and social upheaval. Moreover, the chapters show that it is at least as true that emigration led to the collapse of the northern Southwest as it is that collapse led to emigration.
This exceptionally well-written and thought-provoking collection regarding the thirteenth-century occupation and abandonment of the Northern San Juan region and associated districts is an invaluable resource.’—Journal of Anthropological Research

‘The contributors develop a robustly coherent picture of drought and environmental degradation that led to depopulation and violent conflict. Particularly interesting is the argument advanced by several contributors that out-migration itself caused social disruption that hastened further abandonment.’—American Anthropologist
Timothy A. Kohler is a Regents Professor in the Department of Anthropology at Washington State University and an external professor at the Santa Fe Institute. His work has appeared in such publications as American AntiquityCurrent Anthropology, and American Scientist. Mark D. Varien is Vice President of Programs at the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center in Cortez, Colorado. His the author of Sedentism and Mobility in a Social Landscape: Mesa Verde and Beyond. Aaron M. Wright is a PhD student in anthropology at Washington State University and a preservation fellow at the Center for Desert Archaeology. His work has appeared in such publications as American ScientistArchaeology Southwest, and The Artifact.
Foreword by John A. Ware
1 Depopulation of the Northern San Juan Region: Historical Review and Archaeological Context
Mark D. Varien
2 Depopulation of the Northern Southwest: A Macroregional Perspective
J. Brett Hill, Jeffery J. Clark, William H. Doelle, and Patrick D. Lyons
3 Tree-Ring Dates and Demographic Change in the Southern Colorado Plateau and Rio Grande Regions
Michael S. Berry and Larry V. Benson
4 The Climate of the Depopulation of the Northern Southwest
Aaron M. Wright
5 A New Paleoproductivity Reconstruction for Southwestern Colorado, and Its Implications for Understanding Thirteenth- Century Depopulation
Timothy A. Kohler
6 The End of Farming in the “Northern Periphery” of the Southwest
James R. Allison
7 The Impact of Long-Term Residential Occupation of Community Centers on Local Plant and Animal Resources
Andrew I. Duff, Karen R. Adams, and Susan C. Ryan
8 Catalysts of the Thirteenth-Century Depopulation of Sand Canyon Pueblo and the Central Mesa Verde Region
Kristin A. Kuckelman
9 The Social and Cultural Contexts of the Central Mesa Verde Region during the Thirteenth-Century Migrations
Donna M. Glowacki
10 Evidence of a Mesa Verde Homeland for the Tewa Pueblos
Scott G. Ortman
11 Lost in Transit: The Central Mesa Verde Archaeological Complex
William D. Lipe
12 Remodeling Immigration: A Northern Rio Grande Perspective on Depopulation, Migration, and Donation-Side Models
Jeffrey L. Boyer, James L. Moore, Steven A. Lakatos,Nancy J. Akins, C. Dean Wilson, and Eric Blinman
13 The Environmental, Demographic, and Behavioral Context of the Thirteenth-Century Depopulation of the Northern Southwest
Jeffrey S. Dean
14 Advances in Understanding the Thirteenth-Century Depopulation of the Northern Southwest
Catherine M. Cameron
References Cited
About the Contributors
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