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Abandonment Is Not as It Seems: An Approach to the Relationship between Site and Regional Abandonment

  • Margaret C. Nelson (a1) and Michelle Hegmon (a1)
Abstract

Abandonments of residential sites by prehistoric farmers are most often explained as failures or responses to poor social or environmental conditions. These perspectives ignore the role of residential mobility among farmers as a regionally sustainable approach to land use. To understand the various reasons for abandonment of residential sites, movement patterns at both site and regional scales must be empirically linked. In this study of the eastern Mimbres area of southwestern New Mexico, we examine the relationship between site and regional occupation patterns. Rather than assume that site abandonment implies regional depopulation and that site abandonments are responses to stress or crisis, we use multiple lines of evidence to document the occupational histories of sites in an effort to evaluate whether the abandonment of villages correlates with regional abandonment. Architectural, ceramic, and chronometric data provide evidence for occupational continuity and growth of small residential sites during the twelfth century in the eastern Mimbres area in the context of the depopulation of large villages. This regional reorganization in settlement suggests a strategy for maintaining regional occupational continuity.

Résumé

El abandono de los sitios residenciales pоr los agricultures préhistoricos se explica confrecuencia como una respuesta a las condi-ciones ambientales о sociales deterioradas. Estas perspectivas ignoran elpapel de movimiento residencial entre los agricultures como una estrategia para el aprovechamiento sostenible de la tierra. Para comprender mejor las varias razones del abandono de los sitios residenciales, es necesario vincular empiricamente los patrones de movimiento tanto a escala de sitio como a escala regional. En este estudio de la region Mimbreña oriental, en el suroeste de Nuevo Méjico, examinámes la interdependent entre patrones de ocupación a escala de sitio y a escala regional. En vez de asumir que el abandono de los sitios implica despoblación regional, y que los abandonos de los sitios constituyen una reacción al estrés о a la crisis, empleamos líneas múltiples de evi-dencia para documentor las historias ocupacionales de los sitios para evaluar si el abandono de las aldeas correlaciona se con el abandono regional. Los datos arquitectónicos, de cerámica, y cronométricos proveen evidencia para la continuidad ocupacional yel crecimiento de pequeños sitios residenciales durante el siglo XII en la region Mimbreña enel contexte de la despoblación de los pueblos grandes. Esta reorganization regional de los asentamientos sugiere una estrategia para el mantenimiento de la continuidad regional de ocupación.

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