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Environmental Variability and Settlement Changes on the Pajarito Plateau, New Mexico

  • Janet D. Orcutt (a1)
Abstract

Recent studies have shown a relation between low- and high-frequency environmental variability and aspects of culture. This paper uses low-frequency alluvial and hydrological changes on the Colorado Plateaus and high-frequency changes in moisture availability for the northern Rio Grande between A.D. 1150 and A.D. 1600 to derive expectations for changes in settlement organization on the Pajarito Plateau. The expectations are evaluated using data on the distribution of population and field houses in elevation zones. Changes in population size and aggregation also are reviewed. Low-frequency processes especially appear to have played a role in settlement change until A.D. 1450. After this date, settlement does not conform to expectations. Reasons for this are suggested, including a poor understanding of low- frequency processes, conflict, and human-induced environmental degradation.

Résumé

Estudios recientes han demonstrado una relación entre oscilaciones ambientales de baja y alta frecuencia y aspectos de la cultura. Este trabajo utiliza cambios aluviales e hidrológicos de baja frecuencia en la meseta de Colorado y cambios de alta frecuencia en la humedad disponible en el norte del Río Grande (Río Bravo) entre 1150 y 1600 D.C. para predecir cambios en el patrón de asentamiento en la meseta de Pajarito. Las predicciones se evalúan con datos sobre la distribución de población y de puestos agrícolas en zonas elevadas. También se evalúan cambios en el tamaño de la población y en la concentratión de la misma. Oscilaciones ambientales de baja frecuencia parecen haber jugado un papel importante en los cambios de patrones de asentamiento hasta 1450 D. C. Después de esta fecha, el patrón de asentamiento no se conforma a lo esperado. Se sugieren alternativas que explican esta falta de conformidad, incluyendo un entendimiento incompleto de los cambios del baja frecuencia, del conflicto, y de la degeneration ambiental por causa humana.

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