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Author Topic: Anasazi  (Read 1528 times)
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« on: July 23, 2007, 11:31:46 pm »

Geography of the Ancient Pueblo

The Ancient Pueblo were one of four major prehistoric archaeological traditions of the American Southwest. The others are the Mogollon, Hohokam and Patayan. In relation to neighboring cultures, the Ancient Pueblo occupied the northeast quadrant of the area.[1] The Ancient Pueblo homeland centers on the Colorado Plateau, but extends from central New Mexico on the east to southern Nevada on the west. Areas of southern Nevada, Utah and Colorado form a loose northern boundary, while the southern edge is defined by the Colorado and Little Colorado rivers in Arizona and the Rio Puerco and Rio Grande in New Mexico. However, evidence of Ancient Pueblo culture has been found extending east onto the American Great Plains, in areas near the Cimarron and Pecos rivers and in the Galisteo Basin.

Terrain and resources within this massive region vary greatly. The plateau regions are generally high, with elevations ranging from 4500 to 8500 feet (13502600 meters). Extensive horizontal mesas are capped by sedimentary formations and support woodlands of junipers, pinon, ponderosa pines, and yellow pines, each favoring different elevations. Wind and water erosion have created steep walled canyons, and sculpted windows and bridges out of the sandstone landscape. In areas where erosionally resistant strata (sedimentary rock layers) such as sandstone or limestone overlie more easily eroded strata such as shale, rock overhangs formed. These overhangs were favored sites for shelters and building sites. The range country in areas such as the San Juan, Gallup and Albuquerque basins is low and arid, supporting desert grasses and shrubs. Streams in these regions allow the growth of willows and reeds, and were utilized by the Ancient Pueblo for agriculture. Mountains in the region are as tall as 12,000 feet (3650 meters), and provided timber, game, minerals, and the specialized stone used for flaked tools.

In the Southwest, access to water was essential. All areas of the Ancient Pueblo homeland suffered from periods of drought and wind and water erosion. Summer rains could be undependable and often arrived in destructive thunderstorms. While the amount of winter snowfall varied greatly, the Ancient Pueblo depended on the snow for most of their water. Snow melt allowed the germination of seeds, both wild and cultivated, in the spring. Where sandstone layers overlay shale, snow melt can accumulate and create seeps and springs, which the Ancient Pueblo used as water sources. Snow also fed the smaller, more predictable tributaries, such as the Chinle, Animas, Jemez and Taos rivers. The larger rivers were less important to the ancient culture, as smaller streams were more easily diverted or controlled for irrigation.

Because Anasazi translates roughly to "enemy ancestors" the modern descendants of this culture often choose to use the term "pueblo peoples."

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