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The Better Angels of their Nature: Declining Violence through Time Among Prehispanic Farmers of the Pueblo Southwest

  • Timothy A. Kohler (a1), Scott G. Ortman (a2), Katie E. Grundtisch (a3), Carly M. Fitzpatrick (a3) and Sarah M. Cole (a4)...

Abstract

The central Mesa Verde and the northern Rio Grande regions housed two of the densest populations of prehispanic Pueblo peoples in the North American Southwest. We plot incidence of violent trauma on human bone through time in each region. Such violence peaked in the mid-A.D. 1100s in the central Mesa Verde, and in general was higher through time there than in the northern Rio Grande region. In the central Mesa Verde, but not in the northern Rio Grande, there is a tendency for violence to be greater in periods of low potential maize produccción per capita and high variance in maize produccción, though these structural tendencies were on occasion overridden by historical factors such as the expansion and demise of the Chacoan polity and the regional depopulation. Violence generally declined through time in the northern Rio Grande until the arrival of the Spanish, even as populations increased. We propose that this decline was due to the combination of increased social span of polities, the importance of inter-Pueblo sodalities, the nature of religious practice, “gentle commerce,“ and increased adherence to a set of nonviolent norms.

Las regiones de Mesa Verde central y Rίo Grande norte albergaron dos de las poblaciones más densas de las gentes Pueblo prehispánicas en el Suroeste Norteamericano. Registramos la incidencia de trauma producto de violencia en huesos humanos a través del tiempo en cada region. La violencia alcanzó su máximo a mediados de los 1100s A.D. en Mesa Verde central, y en general fue más alta a través del tiempo ahí que en la región de Río Grande norte. En Mesa Verde Central, pero no en Río Grande norte, hay una tendencia de incremento en la violencia en periodos de bajo potencial en la productión de maíz per capita y alta variación en la producción de maíz, aunque estas tendencias estructurales en ocasiones fueron anuladas por factores históricos como la expansión y decaimiento del gobierno de Chaco y la despoblación regional. La violencia generalmente declinó con el tiempo en Río Grande norte hasta la llegada de los españoles, incluso con el incremento de la población. Proponemos que este declive se debió a la combinación del incremento del alcance social de los gobiernos, la importancia de las sodalidades inter-Pueblo, la naturaleza de la práctica religiosa, el “comercio gentil,” y un aumento en la adhesión a un grupo de normas no violentas.

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The Better Angels of their Nature: Declining Violence through Time Among Prehispanic Farmers of the Pueblo Southwest

  • Timothy A. Kohler (a1), Scott G. Ortman (a2), Katie E. Grundtisch (a3), Carly M. Fitzpatrick (a3) and Sarah M. Cole (a4)...

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