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NMAC 2012 Fall Conference :: “Chuska and Chaco: Puebloan Relationships Across the San Juan Basin”

2 min read

1) “A New Look at the Old Data: Ceramic Trends in the Chuska Valley” by Lori Stephens Reed

A lot of pottery in Chaco Canyon uses trachyte temper, a rock only found in the Chuska Mountains. It was adopted rapidly in the valley and spread across the surrounding region. Trachyte is a better temper than sand because quartz weakens ceramics when they are fired.

2) “Chuska Grayware from the Pueblo Bonito Middens: Implications for Site Function and Interaction” by Hannah Mattson

Large quantities of broken ceramic vessels seems to suggest that a ritual “pot breaking” event was happening in Chaco Canyon. An interesting fact about ceramics is that based on the pinching of coils, an archaeologist can determine whether the coils were pinched together with the right or left hand of the ceramicist. Clockwise coils are pinched with the left hand and counter clockwise coils are pinched with the right.

3) “Social Landscape and Ecology in the Southern Chuska Valley” by Bradley J. Viera

This contract archaeologist has been rapidly excavating sites that will be destroyed by the widening of US Highway 491. There are tons of Basketmaker and Pueblo sites. Basketmaker people were flowing into the area and were not getting along: there are signs of burning and stockades. Also many of the sites began as Basketmaker II or III and then subsequent Pueblo I, II and III structures were built on top of them.

4) “Chuskan Connections and the Rise of Chaco” by Ruth Van Dyke

Using a Marxist perspective, Dyke’s research shows how Chaco may have reached a tipping point around 1000 CE. People migrated into Chuska and Chaco and were from matrilineal societies. Men may have transformed pit houses as a meeting place. With villages torn between the two centers, people were probably travelling often back and forth to visit family. According to this point of view, Chaco may have finally convinced the Chuskans to bring their temper, wood, and chert to the canyon so they could all partake in rituals together.

5) “The Chuska Valley: Chacoan Colony or Ancient Puebloan Heartland?” by Paul Reed

Chuska Valley was an early and persistent ancient Pueblo heartland and core area that deserves equal status as Chaco, Mesa Verde, Kayenta, and others. The valley shared cultural beliefs with many of the sites located in the Colorado Plateau.

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