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A BIRD'S-EYE VIEW OF PROTO-TEWA SUBSISTENCE AGRICULTURE: MAKING THE CASE FOR FLOODPLAIN FARMING IN THE OHKAY OWINGEH HOMELAND, NEW MEXICO

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 May 2017

B. Sunday Eiselt
Affiliation:
Department of Anthropology, Southern Methodist University, P.O. Box 750336, Dallas, TX 75275, USA
J. Andrew Darling
Affiliation:
Southwest Heritage Research, LLC, 9606 Highland View Drive, Dallas, TX 75238, USA (jadarlin@swheritage.com)
Samuel Duwe
Affiliation:
Department of Anthropology, University of Oklahoma, 455 West Lindsey, Norman, OK 73019, USA (duwe@ou.edu), Phone: (520) 904–1745
Mark Willis
Affiliation:
Blanton and Associates, Inc., 5 Lakeway Centre Court, Suite 200, Austin, TX 78734, USA (willis.arch@gmail.com)
Chester Walker
Affiliation:
Archaeo-Geophysical Associates, LLC, 11012 Ariock Lane, Austin, TX 78739, USA (chetwalker@aga-llc.net)
William Hudspeth
Affiliation:
Rio Abajo Digital Mapping Services LLC, 625 Walter St. SE, Albuquerque, NM 87102, USA (wbhk@unm.edu)
Leslie Reeder-Meyers
Affiliation:
Program in Human Ecology and Archaeobiology, Department of Anthropology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C., 20013, USA (reeder-myersL@si.edu)

Abstract

Previous research on agriculture in the American Southwest focuses overwhelmingly on archaeological survey methods to discern surface agricultural features, which, in combination with climatological, geological, and geographical variables, are used to create models about agricultural productivity in the past. However, with few exceptions, the role of floodplain irrigation and floodwater farming in ancestral Pueblo agriculture is generally downplayed in scholarly discourse. Using a variety of methods, including Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), satellite imagery, pedestrian survey, and supervised classification of remotely sensed imagery, we examine this issue through a consideration of how ancestral Ohkay Owingeh (Tewa) people solved the challenges of arid land farming in the lower Rio Chama watershed of New Mexico during the Classic period (A.D. 1350–1598). Based on acreage estimates, our results indicate that runoff and rainwater fields in terrace environments would have been insufficient to supply the nutritional needs of an ancestral Tewa population exceeding 10,000 individuals. Based on these observations, we present a case for the substantial role of subsistence agriculture in the floodplain of the Rio Chama and its associated tributaries.

Las investigaciones previas sobre la agricultura en el suroeste de Estados Unidos se centran principalmente en los métodos para identificar los rasgos agrícolas en superficie durante las prospecciones arqueológicas. En combinación con datos climatológicos, geológicos y variables geográficas, esta información se utiliza para crear modelos sobre la productividad agrícola en el pasado. Sin embargo, con pocas excepciones, los discursos académicos tienden a minimizar el papel del riego por inundación y del cultivo de llanuras aluviales con aguas de crecida en la agricultura de los pueblo ancestrales. Usando una variedad de métodos, incluyendo vehículos aéreos no tripulados (UAV), imágenes de satélite, prospecciones a pie y clasificación supervisada de imágenes de teledetección, examinamos esta cuestión a través de un análisis de como las comunidades Ohkay Owingeh (tewa) ancestrales resolvieron los desafíos de la agricultura en tierras áridas en la cuenca baja del río Chama de Nuevo México durante el periodo clásico (1350–1598 d.C.). Sobre la base de las estimaciones de superficie, nuestros resultados indican que los campos sujetos a riego por medio de la captación del agua de lluvia y de la escorrentía superficial en terrazas habrían sido insuficientes para satisfacer las necesidades nutricionales de una población ancestral tewa superior a 10 000 individuos. Con base en estas observaciones, argumentamos sobre la importancia de la agricultura de subsistencia en la llanura de inundación del río Chama y sus afluentes asociados.

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Copyright
Copyright © 2017 by the Society for American Archaeology 

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A BIRD'S-EYE VIEW OF PROTO-TEWA SUBSISTENCE AGRICULTURE: MAKING THE CASE FOR FLOODPLAIN FARMING IN THE OHKAY OWINGEH HOMELAND, NEW MEXICO
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A BIRD'S-EYE VIEW OF PROTO-TEWA SUBSISTENCE AGRICULTURE: MAKING THE CASE FOR FLOODPLAIN FARMING IN THE OHKAY OWINGEH HOMELAND, NEW MEXICO
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A BIRD'S-EYE VIEW OF PROTO-TEWA SUBSISTENCE AGRICULTURE: MAKING THE CASE FOR FLOODPLAIN FARMING IN THE OHKAY OWINGEH HOMELAND, NEW MEXICO
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