Gardens of Prehistory: The Archaeology of Settlement Agriculture in Greater Mesoamerica

By Thomas W. Killion | Go to book overview

archaeological perspective. Areally, the volume covers recent research in northern New Mexico, the United States; Sonora and southern Veracruz, Mexico; and Belize and El Salvador, Central America (fig. P-1). The studies focus topically on the identification of cultivation practices implemented by prehistoric agriculturalists within or close to the farming settlement, generally referred to as house-lot gardens and infields. The research efforts presented in this volume are directed at using the archaeological record to diagnose the nature of agricultural production from kitchen gardens located within the residential lot to staple- producing plots, or outfields, located at greater distances from ancient settlement zones.

Identifying the structure and organization of prehistoric agriculture has always represented one of the most difficult fields of inquiry for the archaeologist. The studies included in Gardens of Prehistory present innovative methodological approaches to the identification of ancient agricultural systems from a diverse set of New World environments. In doing so they not only broaden our understanding of native American food production systems but also strengthen our framework for inferences concerning the role of agriculture in the evolution of complex society.


CONTENTS

This volume is the outgrowth of a symposium on prehistoric gardens and infield agricultural systems held at the fifty-second annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology held in Toronto, Canada, May 9, 1987. The edited collection is divided into four parts, which follow the preface, an introductory chapter, and a chapter on ethnographic and historic examples of settlement agriculture from lowland and highland Mesoamerica. Part I begins the analytical core of the volume and focuses on three research projects, one from the southwestern portion of the United States, another from northwestern Mexico, and a third from the highlands of central Mexico. All three studies stress the importance of residential gardens and infields to the overall spatial organization of farming around prehistoric settlements in the arid or more temperate environments of central highland Mesoamerica

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