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Prehistoric Soil and Water Conservation on Chapin Mesa, Southwestern Colorado

  • Arthur H. Rohn (a1)

Intensive archaeological survey on Chapin Mesa in Mesa Verde National Park disclosed remains of soil and water conservation devices built and used by the Pueblo II and III inhabitants. Low stone masonry check-dams across intermittent drainages formed farming terraces, while associated seasonal field houses sheltered their tillers. Larger dams near clusters of house sites stored water for domestic use. Water from the extensive collection system for the largest of these, Mummy Lake, was subsequently led through the long Far View Ditch to the late Pueblo III Cliff-Fewkes Canyon cliff dwelling group. These various adaptations to an undependable environment may be symptomatic of the underlying causes for the ultimate abandonment of the Mesa Verde.

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Fewkes, J. W. 1916 Excavation and Repair of Sun Temple, Mesa Verde National Park. Department of the Interior. Government Printing Office, Washington.
Fewkes, J. W. 1917 A Prehistoric Mesa Verde Pueblo and its People. Annual Report of the Smithsonian Institution, 1916, pp. 461–88. Washington.
Fewkes, J. W. 1918 Prehistoric Ruins in Southwestern Colorado and Southeastern Utah. Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections, Vol. 68, pp. 108–33. Washington.
Hack, J. T. 1942 The Changing Physical Environment of the Hopi Indians of Arizona. Papers of the Peabody Museum of American Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University, Vol. 35, No. 1. Cambridge.
Hayes, A. C. 1962 The Archaeological Survey of Wetherill Mesa, Mesa Verde National Park. Under preparation for publication.
Herold, Joyce 1961 Prehistoric Settlement and Physical Environment in the Mesa Verde Area. Anthropological Papers, University of Utah, No. 53. Salt Lake City.
Luebben, R. A., Herold, Laurence, and Rohn, Arthur 1960 An Unusual Pueblo III Ruin, Mesa Verde, Colorado. American Antiquity, Vol. 26, No. 1, pp. 1120. Salt Lake City.
Luebben, R. A., Rohn, A. H., and Givens, R. D. 1962 A Partially Subterranean Pueblo III Structure, Mesa Verde, Colorado. El Palacio, Vol. 69, No. 4. Santa Fe.
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Rose, R. H. 1952 Water Supply History of Mesa Verde National Park. Mimeographed by Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado.
Stewart, G. R. 1940 Conservation in Pueblo Agriculture: I. Primitive Practices; II. Present-day Flood Water Irrigation. Scientific Monthly, Vol. 51, Nos. 3 and 4, pp. 201–20 and 329-40. New York.
Stewart, G. R. and Maurice, Donnelly 1943 Soil and Water Economy in the Pueblo Southwest: I. Field Studies at Mesa Verde and Northern Arizona; II. Evaluation of Primitive Methods of Conservation. Scientific Monthly, Vol. 56, Nos. 1 and 2, pp. 3144 and 134-44. New York.
Woodbury, R. B. 1961 Prehistoric Agriculture at Point of Pines, Arizona. Memoirs of the Society for American Archaeology, No. 17. Salt Lake City.
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American Antiquity
  • ISSN: 0002-7316
  • EISSN: 2325-5064
  • URL: /core/journals/american-antiquity
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