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A Reassessment of Matrilocality in Chacoan Culture

  • Michael A. Schillaci (a1) and Christopher M. Stojanowski (a1)
Abstract

Recent research presented in American Antiquity (66:36-46) proposed that the prehistoric Puebloan communities of Chaco Canyon in the American Southwest conformed to a matrilocal pattern of postmarital residence. The inference of matrilocality at Chaco Canyon was based on the assumption that a number of the most likely modern descendants of the Chacoans are matrilocal, including the present-day Zuni and Hopi Indians, and that the household floor area had increased to a level indicative of female-based residence. The present study assesses these two important assumptions using biological and architectural data. Our results indicate the assumptions needed to infer matrilocal residence at Chaco Canyon might not be satisfied. The biological evidence indicates close relationships with both matrilocal and bilocal present-day populations, while the architectural evidence is more consistent with a male-based pattern of postmarital residence. Limitations to the study of postmarital residence at archaeological sites are discussed.

Résumé

La reciente investigación presentada en la revista American Antiquity (2000, 66:36-46) propuso que los pueblos indígenas prehistóricos del Cañón de Chaco en el suroeste de los Estados Unidos de América conformaron a un patrón matrilocal en cuanto a la residencia postmatrimonial. La inferencia de la matrilocalidad en el Cañón de Chaco se basó en la suposición de que una cantidad de los probables descendientes modernos del pueblo Chaco son matrilocales, incluyendo los indígenas modernos Zuni y Hopi, y también que las dimensiones de las unidades domésticas se habían aumentado a un nivel indicativo de una residencia matrilocal. Este estudio analiza las dos suposiciones usando datos biológicos y arquitectónicos. Nuestros resultados indican que probablemente no sostienen las suposiciones requeridas para inferir la residencia matrilocal en el Cañón de Chaco y que la evidencia biológica indica una relación cercana entre los indígenas modernos matrilocal y bilocal. También, la evidencia arquitectónica es más compatible con el modelo patrilocal con respecto a la residencia postmatrimonial. Se discuten las limitaciones de estudio de la residencia postmatrimonial en cuanto a los sitios arqueológicos.

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