Long Distance Exchange in Pre-Hispanic Chaco Canyon and the Mimbres Valley, New Mexico: A Comparison
This thesis is a study of long distance exchange by the people of Chaco Canyon and the Mimbres Valley, New Mexico. Chaco Canyon region lies within the northwestern corner of present day New Mexico. Chaco Canyon belongs to the broader ancestral Puebloan region of the U.S. Southwest. With its rise to prominence in the early 900s CE, Chaco Canyon was a major cultural center before European contact. Almost exactly south of Chaco Canyon in New Mexico lies the Mimbres region. Mimbres is a sub-classification within the broader Mogollon culture. Although both smaller in size and not quite as extensively studied as Chaco culture, the Mimbres region was important in its own right. Mimbres culture is considered to have it beginnings as a cohesive unit beginning around 825-850 CE with Three-Circle phase during the Late Pithouse period. Although Chaco Canyon and the Mimbres Valley are not thought to be well connected either through trade or culture, there is no denying that the contemporaneous dating of the occupations, and in particular their collapse at the same time, around 1130-1150 CE, speaks to the possibility of common forces working on both regions. The goal of this thesis is to see if the long-distance exchange of valued objects in both regions indicates parallel cultural responses between the two to distant external conditions, particularly in Mesoamerica. Does the growth and decline in procurement of these objects imply similar dynamics to the occupational histories of the two regions over time? The answers to these questions, which are compared to expectations based on distance to sources and the relative social power, may ultimately aid the understanding of a seemingly paradoxical interregional relationship and why two highly independent regions experienced simultaneous collapse. Separated by some 550 km, Chaco Canyon and the Mimbres region still have much to reveal about the nuances of their relationship with one other.