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The most common explanations for the appearance of miniatures in the archaeological record are drawn from practice theory. Two alternatives stem from learning theories, while a third is based in ritual practice and performance. First, miniatures may represent early attempts at craft production by children or novice adults. Second, they could serve as children's toys used for enculturation purposes. Third, miniatures may be produced for use in rituals or as offerings. These explanations are not mutually exclusive; all may be part of the life history of a single artifact. Previous archaeological and ethnographic work on miniature ceramic vessels in the Southwest has variously supported all three prominent explanations. In this article, we examine the miniature vessel assemblage from Homol'ovi I, a prehispanic pueblo in northern Arizona, through a synthetic analysis of craft mastery, use, and deposition. While various life history trajectories are indicated, the miniature vessels at this ancestral Hopi village appear in similar depositional contexts. Specifically, these objects serve as important components in the preparation or closure practices of ritual spaces throughout the pueblo.
The Pueblo population of Chaco Canyon during the Bonito Phase (AD 800–1130) employed agricultural strategies and water-management systems to enhance food cultivation in this unpredictable environment. Scepticism concerning the timing and effectiveness of this system, however, remains common. Using optically stimulated luminescence dating of sediments and LiDAR imaging, the authors located Bonito Phase canal features at the far west end of the canyon. Additional ED-XRF and strontium isotope (87Sr/86Sr) analyses confirm the diversion of waters from multiple sources during Chaco’s occupation. The extent of this water-management system raises new questions about social organisation and the role of ritual in facilitating responses to environmental unpredictability.
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