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Temporal Scale and Qualitative Social Transformation at Chaco Canyon

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 February 2008

Ruth M. Van Dyke
Department of Anthropology, Colorado College, Colorado Springs, CO 80903, USA;


One of the strengths of the archaeological discipline is our ability to examine social transformations over the course of centuries or millennia. However, we rarely think about the ways in which temporal scale affects our interpretations of these processes. Transformative social changes look different when seen from the perspective of the longue durée, a human lifespan, or a single day. Although they clearly result from human actions, long-term, major social changes cannot be understood simply as additive concatenations of short-term shifts.

Special Section: Time and Change in Archaeological Interpretation
2008 The McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research

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