Lecture 1. First Societies 15000 BCE – 600 CE

Early evidence of habitation in the Southwest was first discovered in large animal butchering sites (Clovis and Folsom) and cave site dating to around 13000 BCE. Later evidence finds similar sites throughout the Americas, some earlier. This lecture covers the transition from a cooler big game environment with large bands and assembly-line butchering, to a warming climate, smaller game and foraging. A new “toolkit” is developed with more grinding than hunting, as foraging become more common, yucca becomes a principle food source and is replanted over several hundred years in most elevations where it survives with evidence found in fire pits, and tools. Populations dwindle to small bands of about 6000 people in the region. From 1500 BCE to 500 BCE, the climate cools enough to return grasslands and larger game. Small bands continue to follow game and add pine nuts and acorns to their diet. Weaving skills improve allowing for fabrics and baskets for storage, giving rise to the archaeological designation of Basketmaker. Over the next thousand years agriculture arrives from the South. Populations start to farm, trade for fish and goods and build more permanent settlements, including early pithouses and ritual sites. This period is what as known as “basketmaker” by archaeologists. This lecture will focus on architecture, agriculture and environment, much of which remains relevant to the contemporary interpretations of this place. It can also be added to the First Societies module by Mark Jarzombek available at GAHTC.org For all the peoples covered in this module, from the Hohokamto the vast variety of what we know call the ancestral Puebloans, this sequence is a relatively constant until around 600 CE, where despite cultural variance in rituals and other items, sedentary pit-house villages rely on a similar agricultural toolkit. From c. 600 CE onward each of the groups in the next 5 lectures demonstrate a shift to multifamily hamlets and towns, with ever diverse ritual practices and architectures. “Southwest” vs Mesoamerican Continuum The “southwest” is a common practice in referring to this region. This is a relative term, based upon recent nationalism. Prior to the 1848 invasion of New Spain (Mexico) by the young United States, this was Spanish Territory. Prior to the arrival of Europeans, as Stephen Lekson so convincingly argues, this was the northern edge of the Mesoamerican world, with similar food, cultural, belief and trading customs, not to mention architecture. While each of these peoples and cultures share traits, they are relatively distinct. However this lecture treats these cultures and sites as the north end of a Mesoamerica continuum

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Lecture Notes