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The Chaco Pilgrimage Model: Evaluating the Evidence From Pueblo Alto

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

Stephen Plog
Affiliation:
Department of Anthropology, University of Virginia, P.O. Box, 400120, Charlottesville, Virginia 22904 (plog@Virginia.edu)
Adam S. Watson
Affiliation:
Division of Anthropology, American Museum of Natural History, Central Park West at 79th St., New York, New York 10024-5192 (awatson@amnh.org)

Abstract

Most recent attempts to understand the complex nature of the prehispanic occupation of Chaco Canyon in northwestern New Mexico often have postulated that the canyon was a center for pilgrimage fairs and ceremonies that attracted hundreds if not thousands of individuals from the surrounding region who may have resided in the canyon for significant periods of time. Scholars first proposed this model in the 1980s based on what they perceived as the unusual nature of Pueblo Alto, a Chacoan great house. In particular, they suggested that normal household activity and refuse disposal could not explain the deposition patterns in the Alto trash mound, the unusual number of ceramic vessels, and characteristics of the fauna recovered from the settlement. We evaluate this argument focusing primarily on the ceramic and faunal evidence and conclude that neither the ceramic nor the faunal data support the occurrence of periodic fairs, festivals, dances or pilgrimages of the scale that have been postulated.

Resumen

Resumen

Los más recientes intentos por comprender la naturaleza compleja de la ocupación prehispánica en el Cañón de Chaco han tendido ha postular que dicha área se constituyó como un centro ceremonial y de peregrinación. Estos eventos atraían cientos y acaso miles de personas de las regiones circundantes quienes, posiblemente, establecieron su residencia en el cañón por largos periodos. Los académicos propusieron inicialmente este modelo de interpretación en la década de los 80s, basados en lo que percibieron como las características inusuales de Pueblo Alto, una casa grande de la cultura Chaco. En particular, sugerían que la actividad y disposición de desechos domésticos no explicaban los patrones deposicionales en los basureros de Palo Alto, así como las cantidades inusuales de vasijas cerámicas y las características de los elementos faunísticos recuperados en el asentamiento. Hemos evaluado este argumento enfocándonos principalmente en la cerámica tanto como en la evidencia de faunistica, para concluir que ninguna de la información proveniente de estas fuentes justifica la ocurrencia de ceremonias, danzas, peregrinaciones y fiestas en la en la escala en que se ha supuesto.

Type
Articles
Copyright
Copyright © The Society for American Archaeology 2012

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