Over the past decade many authors have briefly cited or discussed several kinds of evidence for the prehistoric agriculture of the Southwest. Most of this evidence, however, has not received careful scrutiny, nor has it been given major emphasis in any but a few archaeological studies. The importance of agriculture has been more often assumed than demonstrated, and a critical reading of Southwestern archaeological literature reveals that all too often reference to “agriculture” (or “horticulture“) is unaccompanied by any consideration of the many different types of activity that are subsumed by such a term.
From the earliest days of exploration among the “cliff-dwellings” and other ruins the presence of stored corn made it clear that the occupants had been farmers. Other evidence seemed superfluous, since the surviving Pueblo Indians were also farmers, and it could be assumed that farming methods had changed but little over the centuries. Therefore, none of the earlier archaeologists in the Southwest gave serious attention to the agricultural evidence.