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Pueblo Bonito in Chaco Canyon is one of the most iconic pre-Hispanic archaeological sites in the U.S. Southwest. Archaeologists refer to it as a great house in recognition of its massive scale, and often describe it as the centre of the Chaco world. Yet questions remain about Pueblo Bonito’s origins, sequence of construction, duration of occupation and abandonment. Here, the authors present new research that helps to clarify the early phases of occupation, and illuminates some of the problems inherent in reconstructing a building that was a perennial work in progress.
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.
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