Shabikeshchee Village: A Late Basket Maker Site in the Chaco Canyon, New Mexico

Shabikeshchee Village: A Late Basket Maker Site in the Chaco Canyon, New Mexico

Shabikeshchee Village: A Late Basket Maker Site in the Chaco Canyon, New Mexico

Shabikeshchee Village: A Late Basket Maker Site in the Chaco Canyon, New Mexico

Excerpt

In order that the village excavated during the summer of 1927 may take its proper place in the sequence of prehistoric southwestern cultures and that the reader may have some appreciation of the problems which confront the archeologists who are striving to reconstruct the stages in their development, a brief review of our present knowledge of the area may not be amiss.

That portion of the United States in which are found the Pueblo Indians and traces of their former homes, in the ruins of the preColumbian culture centers of their ancestors, comprises the territory included in the States of Arizona, New Mexico, southwestern Colorado, almost all of Utah, a small section of southeastern Nevada, and the great inland basin of the northern Chihuahua district of Mexico. Topographically the area is a high and and plateau sloping away to the south and west from the Rocky Mountains.

The region has four large subareas in the drainage systems of the four main rivers -- the San Juan, the Rio Grande, the Little Colorado, and the Gila-Salt. These streams, and the tributaries of each, are all that carry water the year around. It is in great part a desert country with little vegetation. There is some scanty grass, sagebrush, mesquite, and, where conditions are more favorable, cedar and piñon trees. On the slopes of the higher mountains spruce and pine are to be found.

There was comparatively little game in any but the mountainous districts and it was never extremely abundant there. It consisted chiefly of deer, bear, rabbit, wild turkey, grouse, and quail, with an occasional mountain lion and wildcat.

The soil of the area is such, however, that where water can be secured fairly abundant crops can be produced. That the prehistoric settlers of the region took full advantage of this productivity is shown by the countless ruins scattered throughout the area. There are the remains of great cliff dwellings, of communal structures built on the tops of mesas or on the canyon floors, small house sites, cavate lodges, and even in caves where there were no buildings there are additional evidences of the occupation of the region.

Each of the great river basins seems to have developed a culture with more or less distinctive characteristics in the peculiarities of house construction and grouping, in pottery types, baskets and textiles, while still retaining its relationship to the general widespread culture. The outstanding feature of the whole area may be summed . . .

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