Matching Items (11)

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Exploration and exploitation in the macrohistory of the pre-Hispanic Pueblo Southwest

Description

Cycles of demographic and organizational change are well documented in Neolithic societies, but the social and ecological processes underlying them are debated. Such periodicities are implicit in the “Pecos classification,”

Cycles of demographic and organizational change are well documented in Neolithic societies, but the social and ecological processes underlying them are debated. Such periodicities are implicit in the “Pecos classification,” a chronology for the pre-Hispanic U.S. Southwest introduced in Science in 1927 which is still widely used. To understand these periodicities, we analyzed 29,311 archaeological tree-ring dates from A.D. 500 to 1400 in the context of a novel high spatial resolution, annual reconstruction of the maize dry-farming niche for this same period. We argue that each of the Pecos periods initially incorporates an “exploration” phase, followed by a phase of “exploitation” of niches that are simultaneously ecological, cultural, and organizational. Exploitation phases characterized by demographic expansion and aggregation ended with climatically driven downturns in agricultural favorability, undermining important bases for social consensus. Exploration phases were times of socio-ecological niche discovery and development.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2016-04-01

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Sustainable Small-Scale Agriculture in Semi-Arid Environments

Description

or at least the past 8000 years, small-scale farmers in semi-arid environments have had to mitigate shortfalls in crop production due to variation in precipitation and stream flow. To reduce

or at least the past 8000 years, small-scale farmers in semi-arid environments have had to mitigate shortfalls in crop production due to variation in precipitation and stream flow. To reduce their vulnerability to a shortfall in their food supply, small-scale farmers developed short-term strategies, including storage and community-scale sharing, to mitigate inter-annual variation in crop production, and long-term strategies, such as migration, to mitigate the effects of sustained droughts. We use the archaeological and paleoclimatic records from A.D. 900-1600 in two regions of the American Southwest to explore the nature of variation in the availability of water for crops, and the strategies that enhanced the resilience of prehistoric agricultural production to climatic variation. Drawing on information concerning contemporary small-scale farming in semi-arid environments, we then suggest that the risk coping and mitigation strategies that have endured for millennia are relevant to enhancing the resilience of contemporary farmers’ livelihoods to environmental and economic perturbations.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2011

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Resisting Diversity: a Long-Term Archaeological Study

Description

The value of “diversity” in social and ecological systems is frequently asserted in academic and policy literature. Diversity is thought to enhance the resilience of social-ecological systems to varied and

The value of “diversity” in social and ecological systems is frequently asserted in academic and policy literature. Diversity is thought to enhance the resilience of social-ecological systems to varied and potentially uncertain future conditions. Yet there are trade-offs; diversity in ecological and social domains has costs as well as benefits. In this paper, we examine social diversity, specifically its costs and benefits in terms of decision making in middle range or tribal societies, using archaeological evidence spanning seven centuries from four regions of the U.S. Southwest. In these nonstate societies, social diversity may detract from the capacity for collective action. We ask whether as population density increases, making collective action increasingly difficult, social diversity declines. Further, we trace the cases of low diversity and high population density across our long-temporal sequences to see how they associate with the most dramatic transformations. This latter analysis is inspired by the claim in resilience literature that reduction of diversity may contribute to reduction in resilience to varied conditions. Using archaeological data, we examine social diversity and conformity through the material culture (pottery styles) of past societies. Our research contributes to an enhanced understanding of how population density may limit social diversity and suggests the role that this association may play in some contexts of dramatic social transformation.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2011

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The Cross-scale Interplay between Social and Biophysical Context and the Vulnerability of Irrigation-dependent Societies: Archaeology’s Long-term Perspective

Description

What relationships can be understood between resilience and vulnerability in social-ecological systems? In particular, what vulnerabilities are exacerbated or ameliorated by different sets of social practices associated with water management?

What relationships can be understood between resilience and vulnerability in social-ecological systems? In particular, what vulnerabilities are exacerbated or ameliorated by different sets of social practices associated with water management? These questions have been examined primarily through the study of contemporary or recent historic cases. Archaeology extends scientific observation beyond all social memory and can thus illuminate interactions occurring over centuries or millennia. We examined trade-offs of resilience and vulnerability in the changing social, technological, and environmental contexts of three long-term, pre-Hispanic sequences in the U.S. Southwest: the Mimbres area in southwestern New Mexico (AD 650–1450), the Zuni area in northern New Mexico (AD 850–1540), and the Hohokam area in central Arizona (AD 700–1450). In all three arid landscapes, people relied on agricultural systems that depended on physical and social infrastructure that diverted adequate water to agricultural soils. However, investments in infrastructure varied across the cases, as did local environmental conditions. Zuni farming employed a variety of small-scale water control strategies, including centuries of reliance on small runoff agricultural systems; Mimbres fields were primarily watered by small-scale canals feeding floodplain fields; and the Hohokam area had the largest canal system in pre-Hispanic North America. The cases also vary in their historical trajectories: at Zuni, population and resource use remained comparatively stable over centuries, extending into the historic period; in the Mimbres and Hohokam areas, there were major demographic and environmental transformations. Comparisons across these cases thus allow an understanding of factors that promote vulnerability and influence resilience in specific contexts.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2010

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Formal Open Space and Governance in Premodern Cities

Description

An important part of the layout of a city is the nature of formally defined open spaces that give people a designated forum for interaction, help them navigate the stress

An important part of the layout of a city is the nature of formally defined open spaces that give people a designated forum for interaction, help them navigate the stress of a dense population, and impact how common people perceive each other and their authority and how they move through the built environment. There is a critical lack of understanding of the origin of these spaces in the earliest cities and their social contexts. I will examine a sample of premodern cities, including archaeologically and historically documented examples, to provide more clarity as to why formal open spaces exist, both in ancient cities and modern ones. This project stems from the larger one: "Service Access in Premodern Cities" at ASU, a project dedicated to transdisciplinary research on comparative urbanism. Each of the cities in this projects have been scored on a scale of governance based on that of Blanton and Fargher (2007).I will measure the formal open space in these cities using GIS. Relating plaza area to the size of the city and the form of governance will show whether or not plazas can be classified as a public good according to Blanton and Fargher's classification and whether cross-cultural patterns exist regarding the relationship of governance to public space. A development of this more complex understanding of the dynamics of early cities and their governance is critical to understanding the evolution of both human society and the modern city.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2016-12

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Long Distance Exchange in Pre-Hispanic Chaco Canyon and the Mimbres Valley, New Mexico: A Comparison

Description

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

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.

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Date Created
  • 2018-05

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Early Warning Signals of Social Transformation: A Case Study from the US Southwest

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Recent research in ecology suggests that generic indicators, referred to as early warning signals (EWS), may occur before significant transformations, both critical and non-critical, in complex systems. Up to this

Recent research in ecology suggests that generic indicators, referred to as early warning signals (EWS), may occur before significant transformations, both critical and non-critical, in complex systems. Up to this point, research on EWS has largely focused on simple models and controlled experiments in ecology and climate science. When humans are considered in these arenas they are invariably seen as external sources of disturbance or management. In this article we explore ways to include societal components of socio-ecological systems directly in EWS analysis. Given the growing archaeological literature on ‘collapses,’ or transformations, in social systems, we investigate whether any early warning signals are apparent in the archaeological records of the build-up to two contemporaneous cases of social transformation in the prehistoric US Southwest, Mesa Verde and Zuni. The social transformations in these two cases differ in scope and severity, thus allowing us to explore the contexts under which warning signals may (or may not) emerge. In both cases our results show increasing variance in settlement size before the transformation, but increasing variance in social institutions only before the critical transformation in Mesa Verde. In the Zuni case, social institutions appear to have managed the process of significant social change. We conclude that variance is of broad relevance in anticipating social change, and the capacity of social institutions to mitigate transformation is critical to consider in EWS research on socio-ecological systems.

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Date Created
  • 2016-10-05

Toward a Theory of Social Stability: Investigating Relationships Among the Valencian Bronze Age Peoples of Mediterranean Iberia

Description

What causes social systems to resist change? Studies of the emergence of social complexity in archaeology have focused primarily on drivers of change with much less emphasis on drivers of

What causes social systems to resist change? Studies of the emergence of social complexity in archaeology have focused primarily on drivers of change with much less emphasis on drivers of stability. Social stability, or the persistence of social systems, is an essential feature without which human society is not possible. By combining quantitative modeling (Exponential Random Graph Modeling) and the comparative archaeological record where the social system is represented by networks of relations between settlements, this research tests several hypotheses about social and geographic drivers of social stability with an explicit focus on a better understanding of contexts and processes that resist change. The Valencian Bronze Age in eastern Spain along the Mediterranean, where prior research appears to indicate little, regional social change for 700 years, serves as a case study.

The results suggest that social stability depends on a society’s ability to integrate change and promote interdependency. In part, this ability is constrained or promoted by social structure and the different, relationship dependencies among individuals that lead to a particular social structure. Four elements are important to constraining or promoting social stability—structural cohesion, transitivity and social dependency, geographic isolation, and types of exchange. Through the framework provided in this research, an archaeologist can recognize patterns in the archaeological data that reflect and promote social stability, or lead to collapse.

Results based on comparisons between the social networks of the Northern and Southern regions of the Valencian Bronze Age show that the Southern Region’s social structure was less stable through time. The Southern Region’s social structure consisted of competing cores of exchange. This type of competition often leads to power imbalances, conflict, and instability. Strong dependencies on the neighboring Argaric during the Early and Middle Bronze Ages and contributed to the Southern Region’s inability to maintain social stability after the Argaric collapsed. Furthermore, the Southern Region participated in the exchange of more complex technology—bronze. Complex technologies produce networks with hub and spoke structures highly vulnerable to collapse after the destruction of a hub. The Northern Region’s social structure remained structurally cohesive through time, promoting social stability.

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Date Created
  • 2020

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Archaeological Approaches to Population Growth and Social Interaction in Semiarid Environments: Pattern, Process, and Feedbacks

Description

Population growth, social interaction, and environmental variability are interrelated facets of the same complex system. Tracing the flow of food, water, information, and energy within these social-ecological systems is essential

Population growth, social interaction, and environmental variability are interrelated facets of the same complex system. Tracing the flow of food, water, information, and energy within these social-ecological systems is essential for understanding their long-term behavior. Leveraging an archaeological perspective of how past societies coevolved with their natural environments will be critical to anticipating the impact of impending climate change on farming communities in the developing world. However, there is currently a lack of formal, quantitative theory rooted in first principles of human behavior that can predict the empirical regularities of the archaeological record in semiarid regions. Through a series of models -- statistical, computational, and mathematical -- and empirical data from two long-term archaeological case studies in the pre-Hispanic American Southwest and Roman North Africa, I explore the feedbacks between population growth and social interaction in water-limited agrarian societies. First, I use a statistical model to analyze a database of 7.5 million artifacts collected from nearly 500 archaeological sites in the Southwest and found that sites located in different climatic zones were more likely to interact with one another than a sites occupying the same zone. Next, I develop a computational model of demography and food production in ancient agrarian societies and, using North Africa as a motivating example, show how the concrete actions and interactions of millions of individual people lead to emergent patterns of population growth and stability. Finally, I build a simple mathematical model of trade and migration among agricultural settlements to determine how the relative costs and benefits of social interaction drive population growth and shape long-term settlement patterns. Together, these studies form the foundation for a unified quantitative approach to regional social-ecological systems. By combining theory and methods from ecology, geography, and climate science, archaeologists can better leverage insights from diverse times and places to fill critical knowledge gaps in the study of food security and sustainability in the drylands of today.

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Date Created
  • 2019

Food Plant Biogeography of the Sonoran Desert

Description

There is an ongoing debate around the extent that anthropogenic processes influence both plant species distribution dynamics and plant biodiversity patterns. Past human food use may leave a strong legacy

There is an ongoing debate around the extent that anthropogenic processes influence both plant species distribution dynamics and plant biodiversity patterns. Past human food use may leave a strong legacy on not only the extent that food plants are dispersed and fill their potential geographic ranges, but also on food plant species richness in areas that have been densely populated by humans through time. The persistent legacy of plant domestication on contemporary species composition has been suggested to be significant in some regions. However, little is known about the effects that past human food use has had on the biogeography of the Sonoran Desert despite its rich cultural diversity and species richness. I used a combination of ecoinformatics, ethnobotanical, and archaeological data sources to quantitatively assess the impacts of pre-Columbian, and in some cases, more recent, human-mediated dispersal of food plants on the Sonoran Desert landscape. I found that (i) food plants do fill more of their potential geographic ranges than their un-used congeners, and that polyploidy, growth form, and life form are correlated with range filling and past food usage. I also found that (ii) both pre-Columbian and contemporary human population presence are correlated with relative food plant species richness. Thus, both past human food use and contemporary human activities may have influenced the geographic distribution of food plants at regional scales as well as species richness patterns. My research emphasizes that there is an interplay between ecological and anthropogenic processes, and that, therefore, humans must be considered as part of the landscape and included in ecological models.

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Date Created
  • 2019