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Foraging, farming and village formation in the American Southwest

  • Robert W. Preucel (a1)

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Over 30 years ago, Paul Minnis (1985) proposed the distinction between ‘pristine domestication’ and ‘primary crop acquisition’. The former refers to the initial domestication of wild plant resources and is characterised by only a dozen or so places in the world, most notably China, the Near East and Mesoamerica. The latter refers to the local integration of crops that were domesticated elsewhere and is the more common process. The American Southwest, here defined as the U.S. states of Nevada, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico, and the Mexican states of Sonora and Chihuahua, is a classic case of primary crop acquisition. Cultigens, first maize and then squash and beans, originally domesticated in Mesoamerica, were brought north by immigrant groups who joined with local hunter-gatherer communities. The introduction of these cultigens did not initiate major immediate changes in ecological or social relationships, instead the shift to agriculture as the central subsistence practice took millennia. Just why this is the case continues to be hotly debated. The two volumes under review offer new data and valuable syntheses relevant to scholars interested in the interrelationships between the adoption of cultigens, mixed mobility strategies, and trade and exchange relationships.

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References

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Diehl, M. 2005. Epilogue: ‘Farmaging’ during the Early Agricultural Period, in Subsistence and resource use strategies of early agricultural communities in southern Arizona (Anthropological Papers 44): 181–84. Tucson (AZ): Center for Desert Archaeology.
LeBlanc, S.A. 2004. Painted by a distant hand: Mimbres pottery from the American Southwest. Cambridge (MA): Peabody Museum Press.
Minnis, P. 1985. Domesticating people and plants in the Greater Southwest, in Ford, R. (ed.) Prehistoric food production in North America (Anthropological Papers 75): 309–40. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan, Museum of Anthropology.
Powell-Marti, V.S. & James, W.D. 2006. Ceramic iconography and social asymmetry in the Classic Mimbres heartland, A.D. 970–1140, in Powell-Marti, V.S. & Gilman, P.A. (ed.) Mimbres society: 151–73. Tucson: University of Arizona Press.
Roth, B.J. 2015. Were they sedentary and does it matter? Early farmers in the Tucson Basin, in Roth, B.J. & McBrinn, M.E. (ed.) Late Holocene research on foragers and farmers in the desert west: 108–35. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press.

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