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Evaluating the Gridded Agricultural Field Model in Chaco Canyon, New Mexico, Using Geophysical Remote Sensing

  • Jennie O. Sturm (a1) and W. H. Wills (a1)

Abstract

Recent geophysical remote sensing, including ground-penetrating radar and magnetometry, has been used to investigate three areas within Chaco Canyon, New Mexico, predicted to contain prehispanic agricultural fields. These localities include a well-known but enigmatic area of large grid patterns near the Chetro Ketl great house, which are visible from the air but not at ground level. The gridded area has been interpreted by many researchers as an agricultural field system, and this perspective has in turn been utilized to model agricultural land use throughout the canyon, particularly intensification associated with emergent social complexity. The geophysical surveys revealed evidence of buried features at all three study areas, but the patterns expressed by these features do not clearly conform to the pattern predicted in the gridded agricultural field model. We argue that the surficial grid pattern seen at the Chetro Ketl field is an unusual example of land modification in the canyon and thus unlikely to represent typical Chacoan agricultural field systems. Instead, canyon residents employed a diverse range of agricultural techniques suited to the variable and patchy nature of canyon hydrology and soils.

Nuevo prospecciones de geofísicas, incluido el radar de penetración terrestre y magnetometría, ha sido utilizado para investigar tres áreas dentro del Chaco Canyon, Nuevo México, predicho para contener campos agrícolas prehispánicas. Estas localidades incluyen un famoso pero enigmática de grandes patrones de cuadrícula cerca del pueblo grande de Chetro Ketl, visible desde el aire pero no a nivel del suelo. Esta área de cuadrículas ha sido interpretada como un sistema de campo agrícola, y esta perspectiva ha utilizado para modelar el uso de la tierra agrícola en todo el cañón, particularmente la intensificación agrícola asociado con complejidad social emergente. Los resultados de las prospecciones de geofísicas muestran que todas áreas de investigación tienen características enterradas, pero los patrones expresados por estas características no se ajustan claramente predicho en el modelo de campo agrícola cuadriculado. Argumentamos que el deseño superficie de cuadrícula de Chetro Ketl es un ejemplo raro de modificación de la tierra. Es poco probable que represente los sistemas de campo agrícolas típicas del Chaco. En cambio, los residentes del cañón utilizaron una amplia gama de técnicas agrícolas, adecuado para la hidrología y los suelos variables del cañón.

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Corresponding author

(jsturm@unm.edu, corresponding author)

References

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Evaluating the Gridded Agricultural Field Model in Chaco Canyon, New Mexico, Using Geophysical Remote Sensing

  • Jennie O. Sturm (a1) and W. H. Wills (a1)

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