Seeking The Center Place

Archaeology and Ancient Communities in the Mesa Verde Region

The continuing work of the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center has focused on community life in the northern Southwest during the Great Pueblo period (AD 1150– 1300). Researchers have been able to demonstrate that during the last Puebloan occupation of the area the majority of the population lived in dispersed communities and large villages of the Great Sage Plain, rather than at nearby Mesa Verde. The work at Sand Canyon Pueblo and more than sixty other large contemporary pueblos has examined reasons for population aggregation and why this strategy was ultimately forsaken in favor of a migration south of the San Juan River, leaving the area depopulated by 1290.

Contributors to this volume, many of whom are distinguished southwestern researchers, draw from a common database derived from extensive investigations at the 530-room Sand Canyon Pueblo, intensive test excavations at thirteen small sites and four large villages, a twenty-five square kilometer full-coverage survey, and an inventory of all known villages in the region. Topics include the context within which people moved into villages, how they dealt with climatic changes and increasing social conflict, and how they became increasingly isolated from the rest of the Southwest.

Seeking the Center Place is the most detailed view we have ever had of the last Pueblo communities in the Mesa Verde region and will provide a better understanding of the factors that precipitated the migration of thousands of people.

Table of Contents:

Table of Contents:

Part I. Localities, Regions, and Communities: Long-term Research at Crow Canyon

1. A Partnership for Understanding the Past: Crow Canyon Research in the Central Mesa Verde Region ~ Mark D. Varien and Richard H. Wilshusen
2. The Ancestral Pueblo Community as Structure and Strategy ~ Michael A. Adler
3. Sand Canyon Pueblo: The Container in the Center ~ Scott G. Ortman and Bruce A. Bradley

Part II. Environment and Population: The Foundation for Inquiry
4. Environment-Behavior Relationships in Southwestern Colorado ~ Jeffrey S. Dean and Carla R. Van West
5. Estimating Population in the Central Mesa Verde Region ~ Richard H. Wilshusen

Part 3. Plants and Animals: Subsistence and Sustainability
6. Sustainable Landscape: Thirteenth-Century Food and Fuel Use in the Sand Canyon Locality ~ Karen R. Adams and Vandy E. Bowyer
7. Faunal Variation and Change in the Northern San Juan Region ~ Jonathan C. Driver

Part 4. People and their Communities: Movement, Interaction, Social Power, Conflict
8. Persistent Communities and Mobile Households: Population Movement in the Central Mesa Verde Region, A.D. 950–1290 ~ Mark D. Varien
9. Measuring Community Interaction: Pueblo III Pottery Production and Distribution in the Central Mesa Verde Region ~ Christopher Pierce, Donna M. Glowacki, and Margaret M. Thurs
10. Social Power in the Central Mesa Verde Region, A.D. 1150–1290 ~ William D. Lipe
11. Thirteenth-Century Warfare in the Central Mesa Verde Region ~ Kristin A. Kuckelman

Part 5. Community: The Past in the Present
12. Native American Perspectives on Sand Canyon Pueblo and Other Ancestral Sites ~ Ian Thompson
13. Concepts of Community in Archaeological Research ~ Michelle Hegmon



Praise and Reviews:

"This broad-based research effort will provide a model for other projects, in and outside of archaeology."—David Breternitz, emeritus professor of anthropology, University of Colorado