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Water Management at Pueblo Bonito: Evidence from the National Geographic Society Trenches

  • W. H. Wills (a1), David W. Love (a2), Susan J. Smith (a3), Karen R. Adams (a4), Manuel R. Palacios-Fest (a5), Wetherbee B. Dorshow (a6), Beau Murphy (a1), Jennie O. Sturm (a1), Hannah Mattson (a1) and Patricia L. Crown (a1)...

Abstract

Recent archaeological investigations at Pueblo Bonito in Chaco Canyon reveal that residents constructed a large diversion channel during the eleventh century A.D. as dramatic growth resulted in the expansion of the building onto the main valley floor. Sediments in the diversion channel reflect repeated episodes of flooding, rather than slow moving water typically found in irrigation canals, and archaeobotanical data indicate deposition during late summer or early fall. Although an agricultural function is possible, the channel may have been built primarily to divert floodwaters away from Pueblo Bonito while providing a nearby water source for construction and domestic use. The diversion channel was destroyed by the entrenchment of the “Bonito paleo-channel” in the late A.D. 1000s, and then buried by a combination of cultural debris and valley flooding. Although the canyon stream system changed throughout the occupation of Pueblo Bonito, there is no evidence that the formation of a deep natural channel in the floodplain had any negative effect on the growth of the great house

Recientes investigaciones arqueológicas en Pueblo Bonito en el Cañón del Chaco revelan que, durante el siglo XI AD, los residentes construyeron un canal de desviación de grandes dimensiones tras un crecimiento espectacular que dio lugar a la ampliación del edificio en el fondo del valle. Los sedimentos en el canal de desviación reflejan repetidos episodios de inundaciones, en lugar del movimiento lento de agua que típicamente se encuentra en los canales de riego. Adicionalmente, datos arqueobotánicos indican que la deposición de dichos sedimentos ocurrió a finales del verano o principios del otoño. Aunque es posible que haya servido una función agrícola, el canal pudo haber sido construido principalmente para desviar las aguas de inundaciones lejos de Pueblo Bonito y proporcionar una fuente cercana de agua para construcción y uso doméstico. El canal de desviación fue destruido por la trinchera del “paleo-canal de Bonito” a finales de los 1000 AD, y luego enterrado por una combinación de escombros culturales e inundaciones del valle. Aunque el sistema de flujo del cañón cambió durante la ocupación de Pueblo Bonito, no hay evidencia de que la formación de un canal natural profundo en la zona de inundación haya tenido algún efecto negativo sobre el crecimiento de la gran casa.

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Corresponding author

(wwills@unm.edu, corresponding author)

References

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