Transport networks as integrative mechanisms

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Transport networks as integrative mechanisms a stylistic analysis of roadways in the San Juan Basin of New Mexico
Portion of title:
A stylistic analysis of roadways in the San Juan Basin of New Mexico
Jordan, Gretchen Warrens
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vi, 119 leaves : illustrations (some color) ; 29 cm


Subjects / Keywords:
Pueblo Indians -- Antiquities ( lcsh )
Indians of North America ( lcsh )
Indians of North America ( fast )
Pueblo Indians -- Antiquities ( fast )
Chaco Canyon (N.M.) ( lcsh )
New Mexico -- Chaco Canyon ( fast )
bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )


Includes bibliographical references (leaves 100-112).
General Note:
Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree, Master of Arts, Anthropology.
General Note:
Department of Anthropology
Statement of Responsibility:
by Gretchen Warrens Jordan.

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|University of Colorado Denver
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Auraria Library
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34073953 ( OCLC )
LD1190.L43 1995m .J67 ( lcc )

Full Text
Gretchen Warrens Jordan
B.A., Oregon State University, 1976
M.A., Stanford University, 1978
A thesis submitted to the
Faculty of the Graduate School of
the University of Colorado at Denver
in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Master of Arts

This thesis for the Master of Arts
degree by
Gretchen Warrens Jordan
has been approved
Duane Quiatt
Linda S. Curran

Jordan, Gretchen Warrens (M.A., Anthropology)
Transport Networks as Integrative Mechanisms: A Stylistic Analysis of
Roadways in the San Juan Basin of New Mexico
Thesis directed by Assistant Professor Tammy Stone
An extensive road network associated with the Chaco Phenomenon in the San
Juan Basin from A.D. 900 to 1150 has been important in recent interpretations
of Anasazi social complexity. The roadways are often portrayed as a regional
network, connecting Chaco Canyon with outlying communities. This study
utilizes models of stylistic analysis to evaluate homogeneity in road construction
as an indicator of cultural integration. This approach holds that stylistic
elements are communicative and style in public architecture is a behavioral
correlate of public ideology. A micro-analysis of these roads shows a high
degree of heterogeneity, limited social integration and offers negative evidence
for political or systemic centralization for the Chacoan Anasazi.
This abstract accurately represents the content of the candidates thesis.
I recommend its publication.
Tammy Stone

1. INTRODUCTION................................................. 1
Research Problem....................................... 1
The Epistemological Pursuit......................... 11
An Epistemological "Glitch"........................... 13
End Note ..........................................., 22
2. CHACOAN ROADWAYS ........................................... 23
Roads as a Regional Network......................... 23
Past Research and Locational Issues .................. 28
Macro-Morphological Elements.......................... 33
Micro-Morphological Elements ......................... 36
3. STYLISTIC ANALYSIS ......................................... 40
Background and Theoretical Issues .................... 40
Current Models....................................... 43
Applications ......................................... 49

4. DATA PRESENTATION........................................ 52
Selection of Data.................................. 52
Analytical Points from the Models................... 53
Variables of Road Architecture...................... 58
Predictions ....................................... 63
Summary and Discussion of Findings ................. 67
5. INTERPRETATIONS AND CONCLUSIONS.......................... 81
Findings Revisited................................. 82
Conflicting Interpretations......................... 91
Conclusion ......................................... 97
End Note ........................................... 99
BIBLIOGRAPHY................................................. 100
APPENDIX....................................................... 113

A special note of gratitude is due to all the members of my thesis
committee, but especially to Tammy Stone for her unflagging encouragement
and faith that I would one day bring this project to completion, hopefully with
"panache." Ruben Mendoza and Jim Grady were immensely helpful with then-
many suggestions, insightful questions and constructive criticism.
I owe many thanks to my closest supporters: Dan, Andy and Matt,
whose support and positive attitude (most of the time) made this undertaking
possible by taking up the domestic slack on numerous occasions.
Thanks are also due to Connie Turner for her assistance with the
logistical arrangements of preparing and reproducing this document. Adam
Fier provided his computer expertise at a critical juncture, for which I am
especially grateful.
Finally, a number of scholars and researchers cited in this paper were
very generous with their time in helping me track down various data from a
multitude of sources: Tony Lutonsky, John Stein, Mike Marshall, Robert
Powers arid John Roney. Lou Haecker and Tim Seaman of the New Mexico
Cultural Resource Service and Philip LoPiccolo of the Maxwell Museum were
especially kind in securing obscure reports in a very timely manner.

Research Problem
This paper focusses on one concept and one data set: integration and
roads, respectively. Integration, social, political and economic, is one aspect of
complexity. Other aspects involve population increase, differentiation of social
roles and other elements associated with cultural evolution (Gumerman and
Gell-Mann 1994:7). Integration is of primary significance for this study area -
Chaco Canyon during its florescence between A.D. 900 and 1150 because it is
an important indicator of systemic organization, and possible centralization,
within the region. Integration refers to the maintenance of a set of socially
cohesive mechanisms, material or ideological, that promote sociocultural
identity for the members of a society at a scale beyond local organization. An
absence of cohesive mechanisms implies that people would have a diffuse
sense of their society and little or no identification at a broad scale. The focus
of this study is the question of integration, as indicated in public architecture
by the symbolic expression of social cohesion: style.

The data set used here is a series of road segments, or alignments, in
the San Juan Basin (see Figure 1.1), which have been surveyed by various
archaeologists working in the area (Fowler, et al. 1987; Kincaid 1983; Marshall,
et al. 1979; Nials, et al. 1987; Powers, et al. 1983). Roads are particularly
important in a regional evaluation because of several inherent qualities. Roads
represent potential connections between geographically dispersed settlements.
Roads provide conduits for the distribution of material elements and ideas.
Roads can also facilitate the control and management of resource areas in the
presence of a complex, centralized sociopolitical structure. In and of
themselves, roads are also building projects and may manifest significant
differences or similarities in their construction from one locale to another. In
this sense, roadways are public architecture. Their construction represents a
group activity: at the very least it is a social activity at the community level
and it may extend into the political realm at a regional level.
The methodology used here to relate integration and roadways is
stylistic analysis. This involves a microanalysis of several specific attributes of
road construction (e.g., width, linearity or straightness of trajectory, curbing
marking edges of roadways). These attributes are then statistically correlated
for those road segments which have been surveyed and reported in each of

Figure 1.1
Location of Chaco Canyon, in the San Juan Basin, New Mexico. The broken
line indicates the extent of the Anasazi culture area (from Lekson, et al. 1988).

Roads radiating outward from Chaco Canyon, at Chacra Mesa on map (from
Vivian 1990).

three quadrants of the San Juan Basin southern, western and northern and
with road alignments in Chaco Canyon as well. These quadrants correspond to
previously identified road systems (see Figure 1.2). My thesis is that if these
road construction attributes are distributed throughout the area in a uniform
way, a regional level of labor organization is indicated. Conversely, if the
attributes exhibit significant unpatterned variation in their distribution, then
labor organization and architectural concepts of how roads should be built are
more likely structured and controlled at the community or local level. Stylistic
uniformity is held to be equivalent to social, political and cultural integration:
higher degrees of uniformity indicate higher levels of integration. The greater
the variation in road construction from one quadrant to another, the less
sociopolitical centralization is indicated for Chaco Canyon as a regulating
The reader is asked to note that the San Juan Basin is considered in
this study to be an interaction sphere rather than a region. This distinction is
important in order to emphasize the fact that we do not know, at this time,
how developed the area was in terms of sociopolitical organization and
complexity. The characterization of an area as a region implies some level of
unity or homogeneity, whether it be social, economic, political or some

combination of these. In the case of a geographically defined region such as
the San Juan Basin, it is possible to unconsciously assume that an area bound
by natural environmental features provides an irresistible field for some sort of
cultural commonality. We may also develop the corollary impression that
things outside the region do not share this commonality. When archaeologists
refer to this area as the San Juan Region, it implies a conceptual singularity
determined by and perhaps limited to, in this case, the drainage area of the
San Juan River. However, the nature and extent of Anasazi cultural
interaction are poorly understood in this area for the time period under
consideration, and I believe a cautionary note is necessary, lest we make a
priori assumptions that may be inaccurate. The term interaction sphere is
deliberately more vague. It acknowledges the presence of a level of
interaction, as evidenced, for example, by Great House and Great Kiva
architecture found throughout the area (Lekson 1987), but implies no
particular boundaries or level of organization (see Figure 1.3). In other words,
referring to this area as an interaction sphere is open-ended in a way that is
consistent with our present understanding of the Chaco Phenomenon.

Distribution of Chacoan communities beyond the San Juan Basin
(from Lekson 1991).

The discovery of prehistoric roads in the San Juan Basin has left an
enormous impact on archaeological and popular interpretations of the Anasazi
culture which built them. Road construction has been dated by associated
ceramic scatters to coincide with the Chaco Phenomenon, between A.D. 900
and 1150 (Kincaid 1983; Powers, et al. 1983). The roads seem to emanate
from Chaco Canyon in a radial pattern, extending to distant outliers in a
network that may comprise as many as 400 miles of formalized roadway. Seen
from a birds-eye view, the Chacoan interaction sphere appears to be a
relatively densely populated area with a formalized transport network,
radiating from a central place.
Popular interpretations tend to romanticize Chaco Canyon as a
mythical origin point or axis mundi (Gabriel 1991) which was doomed to a
sudden and mysterious abandonment by the ancient Anasazi. Many
archaeologists also see the Canyon as a central place with spiritual significance
(Fowler and Stein 1992; Judge 1989) which suffered an abrupt hiatus in
occupation after 200 years of massive building projects. But there are many
problems of interpretation of the Chaco culture area and, consequently, many
viewpoints regarding various issues. Did these construction projects, including
Great Houses, Great Kivas, roads and water control devices, require

mobilization of significant labor forces (Saitta 1994) or were they accomplished
more gradually, with a minimal impact on the community (Lekson, et al.
1988)? Was the Canyon abandoned in the 12th century because of an
exhausted food supply (Vivian 1990, 1991), as the result of political upheaval
(Wilcox 1993) or was it a spiritual displacement (Fowler and Stein 1992)
involving a shift in ritual or ideological control?
Even the size of the population living in Chaco Canyon is not known for
certain; estimates range from about 1,000 people (Vivian 1991) to nearly 6,000
people (Hayes 1981). The various functions of the road network are unknown,
although they may be logically assumed to be multi-functional, generally
designed for the movement of people and goods from one place to another.
However, roads may also embody a spiritual purpose, perhaps as ceremonial
passage for religious pilgrimages (Judge 1989) or as extensions of the
monumental architecture which characterizes Great House communities
(Roney 1991).
The degree of inter-connectedness of sites is also puzzling. Many roads
that have been surveyed and documented do not exhibit a continuous line of
travel from one point to another but seem to disappear periodically. There
are several possible explanations for this discontinuity in individual roadways.

Preservation bias may account for the obliteration of some segments and the
maintenance of others over time. Some sections of roads may have been
better maintained than others, if they were located closer to populated
communities for example, which could directly affect their long-term
preservation. Or, it is possible that, for reasons unknown to us, the Anasazi
may have constructed their roads in a discontinuous fashion, although this
explanation seems rather unlikely, or at least unsatisfying.
It is my hope to contribute to the resolution of one aspect of just one of
these problems. That is the question of stylistic variation in road architecture
as it relates to the overall sociopolitical integration of the Chacoan interaction
sphere. The epistemological perspective used here is based on scientific
method, using standard statistical tests to measure significance of variation.
Because there are several constraints imposed by the available data, this
evaluation constitutes a first step, a building block so to speak, in research that
links stylistic elements of roads with the social implications of their
construction. The following is a discussion of epistemological issues which
relate to the tentative or conditional nature of research.

The Epistemological Pursuit
How do we know what we know? Different domains of knowledge
require different bases of information (Lett 1987). Personal experience,
intuition, even faith, can be appropriate sources from which to draw for lifes
daily interactions in domestic affairs, social or personal interactions. For
example, I know that lack of sleep will produce fatigue because I have
personally experienced the effects of sleep deprivation. Similarly, intuition and
faith can account for "knowing" how to choose our friends or make moral
judgements. Each of these personal experience, intuition, faith is inherently
subjective in orientation and highly variable.
But our culture also contains much knowledge that is generally accepted
as objective or at least inherently reliable. We know, for example, that gravity
pulls objects toward the earth with enormous reliability. Consider our
educational curricula in science disciplines which are largely directed toward
learning about "natural laws," the "laws of science," physical "properties," etc.,
all of which represent a knowledge that is publicly shared, generally
uncontested and widely applicable across cultures. The fact that we refer to
this body of knowledge as laws attests to the high degree of reliability we
attribute to it.

Why is this kind of knowledge physical science so broadly accepted?
Human civilization has a long history of curiosity, observation and
experimentation directed toward understanding the physical world. The work
of individuals like Galileo, Johann Kepler and Isaac Newton have been tested
and refined for more than 300 years (Butterfield 1957). And, parallel with that
long history of asking, "what are we seeing and why?" has been a self-conscious
pursuit of improving how we ask. Methodology, carefully developed and
refined, has been the chief tool relied upon by scientists to ensure the accuracy
of the results of their inquiries. That methodology includes (a) formulation of
hypotheses which might account for any given phenomenon, (b) collection of a
set or sets of observations (data) seemingly related to that phenomenon and
(c) testing of those data with regard to the hypotheses. How the hypotheses
are stated and how their implications are dealt with are critical to the validity
and soundness of any conclusions which may result (Goldenberg 1992; Lett
1987). So, instead of generating results based on personal experiences or
intuition, which are extremely variable (albeit valid), researchers have sought
to constrain the structural bases from which scientific inquiries proceed. Any
hypothesis, then, must have four characteristics in order to be considered valid:
it must be testable, replicable, falsifiable and generalizable. In other words,

there must be some means of testing the statement in an experimental or
natural setting; it must be possible for other people in other places to repeat
such tests; since it is impossible to demonstrate that a statement is true in all
times, places and circumstances (Popper 1959), testing must be capable of
showing that the statement is wrong; and, the hypothesis must have
applicability beyond a single case or circumstance. Let me emphasize that this
carefully structured approach is of paramount importance because it allows the
members of an investigative community to talk to each other from a common
base. That is, it allows for the negotiation of a "shared knowledge" through the
processes of independent verification, rejection or challenge and refinement.
An Epistemological "Glitch"
Anthropologists do not study the physical world, per se. They study
behavior. Archaeologists, though ostensibly faced with only inert remains of a
culture, also focus ultimately on behavior. These "behavioral scientists"
generally rely on the same methodological procedures as those described
above, that is, they generate questions, formulate hypotheses, gather data and
test those hypotheses. Two points must be made here, however. The first
relates to the formulation of hypotheses. Because anthropology tends to be

practiced in a paradigmatic context, hypotheses are frequently couched in
terms of behavioral models.1 For example, espousing a paradigmatic
orientation that emphasizes material relationships among humans as key to
understanding social organization, an archaeologist might use an
environmentally deterministic model to postulate that scarcity of resources is
responsible for causing people to change their social condition. Multiple
outcomes are possible: people may (a) cluster together in aggregated
communities, (b) disperse into many small groups, or (c) abandon the affected
area for better resources elsewhere. But the point is that the causative agent
was an essentially material one, in this case, resources. An alternative model
that is ideational (see for example, Geertz 1973) could analyze the same set of
outcomes but see the causative agent of change in peoples perceptions of
what is meaningful in their environment. Models can be very useful because
they structure research and the resulting data in systematic ways according to
particular points of view. In this sense, models regulate how a given argument
is conceived and explored, allowing for rigorous consideration of the validity
and relative import of each point in the argument.
The second point to be made relates to the peculiar nature of
archaeological data. Data that are retrieved by archaeologists always represent

a partial sample of a much greater total assemblage of material artifacts.
There are no known techniques, as of this writing, for recovering all of the
physical objects used by a culture. Consequently, we never know positively
that what we do collect is a proportional representation of that unseen and
unknown universe of any given cultures material output. Further, recovery of
archaeological data is constrained by the vicissitudes of preservation. Some
kinds of materials are preserved better than others, depending on the physical
and social contexts in which they are deposited. Soft materials like organic
tissue, feathers, paper, cloth and fiber tend to break down, especially in humid
or harsh conditions. Hard materials like ceramics, bone, stone and shell are
more resistant to weathering. On the other hand, in very dry climates such as
found in parts of Egypt, the north coast of Peru or the deserts of the American
Southwest, normally fragile objects can be surprisingly well preserved. Finally,
we do not know all the human variables involved in the manufacture, use or
contextual arrangement of material objects, simply by virtue of the fact that
any given behavior may have multiple causes or motivations.
An entire class of cultural elements is always absent, however, and that
is behavior. Religious rituals, healing practices, political dynamics, instruction
and enculturation of children are all processes and cannot be recovered

alongside ceramic vessels and projectile points. The irony and challenge are
that these and other human processes are precisely what archaeologists seek to
understand! Because we cannot observe and describe behavior directly as an
ethnographer might, archaeologists rely on alternate approaches, both direct
and indirect, to elicit as much information as possible from the data that are
available. These approaches fall loosely into two categories of activity: first,
analyzing what you see and second, explaining it. The first category includes
micro-analysis of the artifacts themselves and macro-analysis of their context,
or examination of the spatial and temporal relationships between things,
people and the physical environment. The present research incorporates such
analysis, focussing on quantification and correlation of specific attributes of
Chacoan road architecture.
The second category of activity in archaeological research is
interpretation and explanation. This refers to the reconstruction of the
behavioral context in which the cultural artifacts were produced, used and
arranged, including social, political and economic dynamics. Theoretical
models are very useful in this effort because of their dynamic structuring of
information in systematic ways, as stated earlier. The model used here relates

the stylistic attributes of the Chacoan road system to behavioral correlates.
This model will be presented in depth in Chapter 3.
Theoretical models are frequently at issue among archaeologists
(Binford 1989; Dunnell 1989; Flannery 1983; Gilman 1989; Trigger 1989).
There are several reasons why this is so, including (a) disagreements about
causal factors, (b) conflicting interpretations of the same data or conflicting
data sets for the same phenomenon, and (c) validity of assumptions underlying
a given model. The following discussion addresses aspects of each of these
The causal factor or factors for any kind of social change fall loosely
into two broad categories: (1) environmental, material and economic or (2)
ideational, political and social. For example, sociopolitical complexity might be
interpreted as a response to ecological conditions in an argument that goes
something like this: high rainfall causes higher crop productivity, yielding
surplus food which creates wealth and allows for the emergence of social
differentiation or vertical stratification. Or, that same complexity can be
attributed to lack of rainfall which necessitates managerial or regulatory

mechanisms which in turn support an asymmetrical power structure.
Alternatively, explanations for complexity may not posit a primary role for
environmental unpredictability at all, instead emphasizing human agency such
as factionalism or competition for power, complicated by differential access to
a given resource, which results in economic or political domination by one
group over another. Ideally, any hypothesis relating to causal factors should be
testable. Frequently, ethnoarchaeological research or cross-cultural surveys can
offer insight to the question of causation through the use of analogy with living
or historically documented societies.
Interpretation of Data
The second problem stems from conflicting interpretations of data.
Interpretations can be nearly as variable as the researchers who express them.
For example, the fact of Chaco Canyons abandonment in the 12th century
A.D. has been well documented (Cordell 1984; Lekson 1987; Vivian 1990): in
and of itself, the demographic discontinuity is not an issue. However,
explanations for the abandonment proliferate. They range from agricultural
failure, population pressure and competition for scarce resources (Judge 1989;
Vivian 1990) to ideological crisis, spiritual abandonment (Bradley, personal

communication 1990; Fowler and Stein 1992) and regional instability and
warfare (Lutonsky 1992; Wilcox 1993). All of these models of abandonment
seem to incorporate the same data yet each emphasizes different aspects or
variables of those data. Some emphasize the effects of periods of drought
while others emphasize shifting patterns of residence in the Basin and still
others focus on defensive features and implements.
Variations, even slight ones, in data collection, measurement and
reporting can all result in significant differences in their ultimate analysis for
any given investigation. Only through clear and careful presentations of
research strategies, rationale and methods can we hope to resolve differences
or even understand the basis of divergent perspectives among archaeologists.
A third source of conflict in explanatory models is their underlying
assumptions. This is, in fact, an enormous category of controversial topics,
chief among which are issues of theoretical orientation or paradigms (Kuhn
1962; Lett 1987) and the use of analogy in archaeology (Lamberg-Karlovsky
1989; Trigger 1989). We might assume that something is valid because the
theory we subscribe to pronounces it so or because that thing is true in similar

or analogous circumstances, or because it has been tested and shown to be
reliable. The difficulty for archaeologists is that assumptions cannot always be
tested; assumptions may constitute an arbitrary starting point or foundation of
a model. In the course of utilizing a model of stylistic analysis, as in the
present research, it is necessary to make several assumptions (Conkey 1990).
These will be discussed in greater detail in Chapter 3, relative to style theory,
and are presented here only briefly.
The first assumption in my investigation is that certain road design
attributes constitute significant behavioral choices for the Chacoan Anasazi.
Secondly, I am assuming that the attributes which I have identified as
behavioral choices were perceived as such by the Anasazi planners or builders.
Thirdly, I assume that road construction is a group undertaking and, as such,
represents a public statement of a generally-held idea of proper "roadness." It
is possible, of course, that I am imposing my own sense of what constitutes
significant information. This is a controversial area in stylistic analysis theories
and relates directly to the ethnological issue of the divergent perspectives
represented by insiders versus outsiders of a given culture. This crisis of
representation (Clifford 1986, 1988; Foucault 1972; Geertz 1988; Narayan
1993; Rosaldo 1986, 1989; Trouillot 1991) becomes painfully real when we

begin to interpret and explain our observations: are the Chacoan Anasazi the
Other, interpreted from my cultural and, hopefully scholarly, point of view?
Or am I the Other, seeking to gain some small foothold of insight into then-
peculiar rationale? Or, is it possible to make a valid statement based on a
defined etic viewpoint of the observable data, acknowledging the limits of our
ability to understand a culture that is alien to our own?
My own view is that even though we are outsiders removed in space,
time and world view (Berger 1972; Hall 1959) from the Chacoan Anasazi, we
can make provisional statements that are valid and attempt to derive
epistemological constructs that are subject to review, challenge, refinement,
etc. My goal in this research effort is to present my hypotheses, assumptions,
methods and findings in a way that can foster a communicative negotiation
process and enhance our insight into the Chacoan world. Hopefully, the
process and product of re-thinking what the architectural implications of
roadways might be, will provide a useful point of departure for reaction and
future research and analysis.
Chapter 2 discusses the micro- and macro-morphological attributes of
Chacoan roads, including those elements which will be analyzed in this study.
Some summary remarks are also offered about past research. Chapter 3

focuses on theories of style and stylistic analysis. The data for each attribute
analyzed are presented in Chapter 4 along with the findings regarding
statistical tests for correlation, variation and uniformity. Finally, my
conclusions are presented in Chapter 5.
End Note
1 The interpretive approach which rejects paradigmatic inquiry in
ethnographic research is the topic of several recent anthropological works. A
well-presented discussion of this post-modem perspective may be found in
Clifford and Marcus, 1986, Writing Culture.

Roads as a Regional Network
The Chacoan interaction sphere comprises two basic components: the
core, or the Canyon itself located in Northwestern New Mexico, and the
periphery, made up of the community settlements located outside the canyon.
In Chaco Canyon there are 12 Great Houses, which are imposing, multi-story
structures with sometimes hundreds of rooms. Numerous smaller, single story
structures are also common in the Canyon. The peripheral area includes
somewhere between 100 and 200 Anasazi Great House communities commonly
referred to as "outliers," located in the San Juan River Basin but also extending
into Southern Colorado, Southeastern Utah and Eastern Arizona (Fowler, et
al. 1987; Marshall, et al. 1979; Powers, et al. 1983). The nature of the
relationship between the core and peripheral populations is poorly understood,
with the issue of organizational structure and complexity a paramount topic of
While occupation in the Canyon and at some outliers dates from the
Archaic period, the earliest road construction in the San Juan Basin area is
associated with the Chaco Phenomenon, approximately A.D. 900 to 1150. The

roads radiate from the Canyon, generally along arrow-straight trajectories, and
appear to connect the Great Houses in the Canyon with various outliers.
These roads can also be very wide, measuring more than 20 meters in some
areas. The distinctive Chacoan architecture of Great Houses and Great Kivas
found throughout the entire area (core and periphery) and the road network
have had an enormous impact on social, political and economic interpretations
of the area. Archaeologists "...have viewed Chacoan outliers and the
associated roads as material evidence of a large, complex socioeconomic
system..." (Powers, et al. 1983:4).
If the Chacoan area constitutes a definable, political region
characterized by a single socioeconomic system, then we should see evidence
of integration in terms of a distribution of material culture (e.g., architecture,
lithics, ceramics) that is more or less uniform or occurring in a regular spatial
patterning of settlements. The roadways are a particularly advantageous focus
for investigation of integration because, potentially, they provide a transport
network between various components or, critical for the issue of complexity,
roads may provide the core area with access to and control over outlying
communities of the Chacoan interaction sphere. The significance of these
roadways in considering the extent and formalization of this interaction is
illustrated in Figure 2.1. The map on the left represents the distribution of

Figure 2.1
Comparison of the Chacoan interaction sphere without (left) and with (right) the road
network indicated (from Powers, et al. 1983).

Chacoan sites throughout the region. While these sites are architecturally and
morphologically (in terms of community site plans) similar, nothing is indicated
about inter-site communication. In the map on the right, however, the road
system seems to form extensive linkages between sites. Visually, at least, this is
compelling support for the interpretation of a singular Chacoan region,
controlled from its center.
However, the roads themselves raise many questions. For example, the
reason for their extreme width is puzzling in the absence of pack animals or
wheeled vehicles in the Anasazi culture. Their (frequently) unbending linearity
is also remarkable in view of the added labor investment required to build over
or through obstacles rather than going around them. Other questions relate to
the organization of labor for construction and maintenance. Who performed
the planning and engineering of the roadways? Whs labor regulated through a
hierarchical decision-making process, through a horizontal arrangement of role
differentiation or by some sort of consensual agreement?
According to several road surveys (Nials et al. 1987; Powers et al. 1983;
Roney 1991) the continuity between many segments in the road system is only
partial. Many roads can be identified in the vicinity of a site but seem to
disappear at some distance away from the site. This gives the impression that
the roads have less of a transport function between sites and, instead, are

primarily an architectural extension of the Great Houses and community
structures with which they are associated. Alternatively, what we may be
seeing is the result of preservation bias. It is possible that roads near sites
were maintained more carefully or were more formalized (e.g., excavated into
bedrock, curbed or flanked by berms) so that these segments resisted
weathering and deterioration longer.
The full extent of the road network is still unknown. Certainly, road
segments have been identified in areas that are very distinct from each other
(Roney 1991; Fowler, et al. 1987) so that on a map the roads appear to stretch
out from Chaco Canyon for hundreds of miles in several directions. As
suggested in Figure 2.1 above, this configuration could help to support the idea
of an integrated sociopolitical system organized around a central place. But do
the roadways constitute a single, uniform system? Is it conceptually
appropriate to portray the roads as a single network linking peripheral areas
with the core? Or are there significant local differences between various core
and periphery components which might support an interpretation of a less
integrated interaction sphere with more sociopolitical variability? Discussion of
this issue will be resumed in the summary and conclusions in Chapter 5.

Past Research and Locational Issues
The remarks here constitute a brief overview of past study of the
Chacoan road system. For a more complete discussion, the reader is referred
to Vivian (1983) or Lister and Lister (1981).
The earliest clear account offering a description of the roadways was
recorded by a special agent of the General Land Office who was assigned to
review the activities of the Hyde Exploring Expedition in 1901. This agent was
S.J. Holsinger who writes "The remains of an ancient road-way... can be traced
from Chettro Kettle stairway to Alto ruins. This roadway was 20 feet wide and
walled up to a grade with loose rock and filled with soil... It followed this ledge
for about a half mile to a point where there are indistinct remains of a broad
flight of steps, twenty-one in number" (Holsinger cited in Vivian 1983:3-2).
Holsinger refers to the road linking Chetro Ketl to Pueblo Alto. Although he
mentions the Chetro Ketl stairway and identifies other stairways in the canyon,
he does not associate these features with the roads.
In 1948, a conversation between Marietta Wetherill and Gordon Vivian
marked an important turning point for Chacoan road research, when Wetherill
indicated to Vivian that the ancient roadways had been known to the Navajo
for generations. She describes them: "North of [Pueblo] Alto, in certain light
you can still see what appears to be a wide roadway running to the Escavada

certain light you can still see what appears to be a wide roadway running to
the Escavada [Wash]. In the old days, this was clearly defined in the Spring or
early Summer because the vegetation on it was different from any other and it
could be traced clear to San Juan" (Lister and Lister 1981:145). Following
this conversation, Vivian was able to locate traces of Chacoan roads on both
sides of Escavada Wash. He also reviewed aerial photographs taken by the
Soil Conservation Corp in the 1930s in which the roads showed up as "wide,
straight courses" (Vivian 1983:3-2).
In 1971, R. Gwinn Vivian and Robert Buettner began an investigation
of water control features in the Pueblo Alto area. They discovered later that
these structures were not irrigation devices but were actually road-related
features. They then began a comprehensive survey of the Canyon from
Penasco Blanco to Wijiji (see Figure 2.2), which resulted in the identification
of new road segments.
With the establishment of the Chaco Center, also in 1971, there was a
resurgence of research in multiple areas of Anasazi culture, including roads.
Part of this research included experiments with remote sensing to study the
extent of the road network, which culminated in the Remote Sensing Project,
from 1971 to 1977. A result of this project was extensive mapping of

Figure 2.2
Great Houses and roads in Chaco Canyon (from Lekson, et al. 1988).

alignments appearing on aerial photographs which, in turn, were used as the
basis for ground verification surveys.
For three years beginning in 1980, the Bureau of Land Management in
New Mexico undertook a comprehensive project to document the Chacoan
road network. The project identified several goals, including the establishment
of a method for the documentation of road segments, development of criteria
for classification, evaluation of road construction and testing of the
potential for locating new road alignments based on aerial photographic
techniques. This project has produced the single most synthetic and complete
documentation, published in two parts (Kincaid 1983 and Nials 1987), of the
road networks in the San Juan Basin.
Aerial photography has provided the basis for the location and later
verification of many Chacoan road segments (see Obenauf 1991 for a complete
discussion of the use of aerial reconnaissance in the Chacoan interaction
sphere). It is far less labor-intensive, obviously, to search for indicators of
roads, or linearities, from the air than to survey the same area on foot with a
ground crew. However, while remote sensing and photointerpretation are
advantageous for reconnaissance, they are not conclusive indicators of the true
existence of road segments, and ground verification and measurement are
always a necessary step in the research process. Unfortunately, ground

verification is problematic, due primarily to the difficulty of identifying road
segments in the desert landscape, even with coordinates provided by aerial
mapping. The following excerpt is an illustration of the ground surveyors
"Now those sage bushes were all about the same height three
or four feet; they stood just about seven feet apart, all over the vast
desert; each of them was a mere snow mound, now; in any direction
that you proceeded ... you would find yourself moving down a distinctly
defined avenue, with a row of these snow mounds on either side of it -
an avenue the customary width of a road, nice and level in its breadth,
and rising at the sides in the most natural way, by reason of the
mounds. But we had not thought of this. Then imagine the chilly thrill
that shot through us when it finally occurred to us, far in the night, that
since the last faint trace of the wheel tracks had long ago been buried
from sight, we might now be wandering down a mere sagebrush avenue,
miles away from the road and diverging further and further away from
it all the time. Having a cake of ice slipped down ones back is placid
comfort compared to it... There was an instant halting and
dismounting, a bending low and an anxious scanning of the roadbed.
Useless, of course; for if a faint depression could not be discerned from
an altitude of four or five feet above it, it certainly could not with ones
nose nearly against it" (Mark Twain, cited in Kincaid 1983:7-1).
Many road segments exist only as swales or slight depressions on the
ground. Alignment images that are clearly visible on aerial photographs, due
to changes in soil color or vegetation, can be extremely subtle on the ground:
they may tend to fade into the surrounding environment or disappear
altogether as one loses the perspective afforded by a higher altitude. This
problem can be partially resolved, with luck, by the presence of relatively

dense ceramic scatters arranged along or parallel to the road alignment; road-
associated architectural structures such as herraduras (horseshoe-shaped stone
enclosures), roomblocks or cairns; curbing along the margins of definable
swales; or formalized roadbed preparation such as excavation into bedrock,
construction of ramps, stairs, etc. (Kincaid 1983:9-1 to 78). In the absence of
clear features such as these, or unless there is a distinct swale of characteristic
width and straightness, it may be impossible to ground-identify a roadway at
The following section distinguishes road elements according to the scale
at which they are observed. On a large scale, road networks exhibit a peculiar
geometric form or morphology. On a smaller scale, individual segments may
manifest an array of specific characteristics of engineering and construction.
Macro-Morphological Elements
Macro-morphology refers to the overall pattern or constellation of the
road network, especially in its temporal and spatial relation to settlements.
The configuration of the Chacoan network can be interpreted as either solar
or dendritic converging on a central place. It is solar in the sense that all
roadways seem to radiate from Chaco Canyon with simple, linear connections
to various outlying communities. However, since some of the outlier sites

represent multi-component communities, the road network could be considered
dendritic, with multiple, relatively short roadways connecting components
within each community group. (For a discussion of configurations of various
documented roadways and their implications, see Trombold 1991.)
The roads have been divided by quadrants into the southern road
system, the western roads (Coyote Canyon and Mexican Springs), the Great
Northern Road and the Canyon segments, which include the Pueblo Alto
system. An Eastern quadrant, comprised largely of the Chacra Face and
Pueblo Pintado Roads, has not been included in this study due to lack of data
regarding specific attributes of those segments.
An issue related to overall network configuration is connectivity. Many
interpretations assume that the roads were constructed as throughways to
connect points A and B, that is, without breaks from one point to the other.
Certainly, when verified road segments are plotted on a map, it is difficult to
justify the postulate of intentional contrivance of discontinuities between
segments (c.f., Figures 2.1 and 2.3). However, an alternate hypothesis states
that roads are an artifact of monumental architecture; that they are an integral
architectural component of Great House communities (Roney 1991). In this
model, Roney proposes that the primary function of road construction was not
product-oriented: roads were not built, in other words, to provide a

Figure 2.3
Map showing unconnected road segments (from Roney 1991).

transportation or communication network. Instead, road construction was an
important cultural process which served as an integrative activity. The lack of
verifiable links between all of the road segments and the fact that most known
roads connect sites in Chaco Canyon with outlying Chacoan Great Houses and
Great Kivas may indicate that the function of roads was related to the function
of Houses and Kivas.
It may be difficult to resolve this issue without further, extensive ground
verification efforts. While aerial photography indicates that the road network
may extend to 400 or 500 miles in all, ground surveys to date account for
approximately half that total distance. Maps, exclusively representing ground-
verified alignments, resemble connect-the-dot pictures in childrens books: it
may be the case that proverbially optimistic archaeologists, following the half-
full glass analogy, see the roads between the dots whereas their more
pessimistic counterparts see only open spaces between.
Micro-Morphological Elements
These elements include (1) roadbed preparation including excavation
into bedrock for stairways or for other purposes, (2) construction of ramps or
causeways, (3) width, (4) flanking curbs or berms and (5) linear (straight) or

curved trajectories. Each of these elements of construction will be described
briefly relative to Chacoan roads.
Roadbed preparation ranges from the informal clearing away of stones
(and using the resulting rubble for curbs) to excavation into bedrock.
Stairways in the Canyon are pecked and/or grooved to depths sufficient for
ease of footing. In other areas where steps are not a consideration, the
roadbed may be excavated to a depth of one or two centimeters. Some
natural features were levelled prior to road construction: in one case, 1.5
meters of a sandstone ridge end was removed.
Ramps and causeways are not common in the road network. Only a
few have been documented, the most prominent of which is probably the
Ahshislepah ramp (and steps) which measures 23 meters in width, located at
the base of a cliff near Penasco Blanco, west of the Canyon (see Figure 2.2).
In cases where these features have been documented, it appears that they
serve a levelling purpose, to maintain the horizontal profile of the road or to
ease access to an elevated portion of the roadway.
Width of roads varies from one to 23 meters. The narrowest road
segments in the basin are located in the Canyon and are associated with
excavated stairways. Wider roadways occur throughout the outlying area,

generally in locations where the topography tends to be relatively flat or gently
Flanking features along the roads may be simply piles of loose stones,
ridges of rubble material, multiple-coursed masonry curbs, large earthen berms
or they may be nonexistent. Identifying and documenting curb features is
particularly difficult in areas where preservation is compromised by wind or
water erosion, or other natural or human factors.
Linearity is one of the hallmarks of road construction in the Chacoan
sphere. However, in spite of their reputation for being arrow-straight, many
roads actually incorporate dog-legs or even curves in their layout. Linearity is
interesting, also, as an indicator of planning and engineering, which, in turn,
may have implications for organization of labor. In the absence of modem
surveying instruments, the achievement of very straight trajectories such as the
Great North Road is impressive. Nials (1983) speculates that line-of-sight
reckoning may have been used to accomplish this feat. The implication here is
that planning and engineering were group tasks, organized cooperatively or by
some sort of managing authority. Whether this organization occurred at the
community or regional level is, of course, still an issue for interpretation.
The following chapter presents theoretical considerations of stylistic
analysis and specifies the model utilized in the evaluation of the micro-

morphological elements just described. It should be noted that macro-
morphological elements and temporal affinity will not be included in this
analysis. The reason for omitting the macro-morphological elements is simply
that I am concerned specifically with comparing elements within the road
network rather than its overall configuration. I will address the implications
for the uniformity or variability of the system in the Conclusion.
Temporal placement of road construction is impossible to determine at
this time with reliable refinement of less than a 200 year span (based on dating
of associated ceramics; see Kincaid 1983 for a discussion of methods and
limitations). Since this time span coincides with the entirety of the Chaco
Phenomenon, precluding the possibility of saying anything significant about
incremental construction events, I have opted to omit the temporal element in
my analysis and discussions altogether.

Background and Theoretical Issues
This chapter will present, first, a brief background of the historical uses
of style in archaeology and a discussion of some theoretical considerations and
definitions. Following that will be an outline of three current models of
stylistic analysis and a summary of the major points in these models which
relate to the question of public architecture in general. Finally, these summary
points will be related to the analysis of the micro-morphological road
construction elements described in Chapter 2 as they apply to the research
Since the 19th century, with the work of C.J. Thomsen and Oscar
Montelius, a central concern of archaeology has been to establish chronologies
for prehistoric cultures. Thomsens and Montelius seriational and typological
systems were both based on the analysis of stylistic attributes of material
artifacts. Both systems approached style as formal variation and were based
on the principle that because styles change through time, they are diagnostic of
temporal location (Trigger 1989). By arranging material artifacts, such as
ceramic vessels, in a series representing gradual stages of development, or by

organizing those artifacts into categories according to their type of material,
form, decoration, etc., archaeologists could establish chronological indices for
culture areas.
The culture-historical approach to archaeological research, which was
dominant until the first half of this century, continued the emphasis on style as
formal variation. In this approach, stylistic analyses were used largely to refine
chronological control in the reconstruction of past cultures and to further
define those cultures (Conkey 1990; Trigger 1989).
With the advent of the New Archeology in the inid-1960s, style was
reinterpreted as communication or as social process. In the former sense, style
has the potential for embodying a message at a personal, group or even
regional level; in the latter sense, style can indicate social exchange or
interaction as in the reinforcement of cultural boundaries.
In the last two decades, conceptual approaches to the uses of style in
archaeological analysis and interpretation have received a great deal of
attention (Conkey 1990; Hodder 1979; Plog 1980; Sackett 1985; Wiessner 1983;
Wobst 1977). The treatment of style in this period of time seems to cover a
broad range from somewhat functional to symbolic approaches, including the
foregoing views of style as formal variation, as communication and as social
process. While a unified theory of style has not yet been adopted by

archaeologists, discussion and debate have prompted a re-thinking of the issue
that is both provocative and constructive. For a more detailed history of
stylistic approaches, the reader is advised to consult Conkey (1990).
Theoretical issues, as indicated above, are concerned with the kinds of
information that are valid for archaeologists to glean from or impose on an
analysis of stylistic variation. What does style indicate about its manufacturers
and users? Is style constrained by function? Does style represent
subconscious, passive habit or intentional, active choice? Can archaeologists
use style as an indicator of meaning, as a representation of the world view of a
culture or, is an etic, analytical or descriptive approach more valid?
These issues will be discussed here only in terms of their relevance for
the analysis of stylistic variation of the road construction elements named
earlier. It may be useful, however, to offer a preliminary statement of the
assumptions embodied in this research regarding each of these issues. First,
style is considered to be communicative: attributes of Chacoan roadways are
representative, in some way, of the sociopolitical context in which they were
constructed. Secondly, functional and stylistic aspects of the roads are not
considered as separable. Thirdly, stylistic attributes of the roads are taken to
be active expressions of intentional choices on the part of planners, engineers
or builders. Finally, my goal is not to explain those choices or what they might

mean for the Anasazi world view; rather to pursue an etic, analytical approach
to assess the degree of sociocultural integration that may be indicated by
uniformity or variability in those stylistic choices.
The following discussion of three different models of stylistic analysis
offers a somewhat larger perspective of the potential breadth of interpretation
in the field of style. A summary of their major points and a recapitulation of
those points relative to the Chacoan road problem will conclude this chapter.
Current Models
The models included here are referred to as (1) Isochrestic-
Iconological, (2) Emblemic-Assertive and (3) Panache-Protocol. The main
arguments of each are summarized, with a view to their definitions of style and
their identification of what stylistic variation can indicate in archaeological
The term isochrestic is derived by Sackett (1985, 1990) from the Latin
for "equal choice." Sackett defines isochrestic behavior as "...the business of
making choices among options, [which] is guided by symbolic behavior, the
business of assigning meaning to these choices..." (1990:36). Isochrestic

behavior may be conscious or unconscious but is associated with the basic
human need for orderliness in life. "It is isochrestic behavior that ...
standardizes a cultural system..." (Sackett 1990:35). Iconological variation, on
the other hand, refers to the purposeful use of iconographic symbols that are
"... created and manipulated by artisans for social ends" (Sackett 1985:154).
The difference between isochrestic and iconological variation lies in the
role of style for any given artifact. A manufacturer simply choosing among
many options that are all equally viable, is engaging in isochrestic behavior, in
Sacketts view. In this case, the meaning of that stylistic choice may be diffuse
or indiscernible and shall be referred to as having a passive role. In contrast,
the stylistic choice that has a purposeful, clear and manipulative objective is an
example of iconological behavior. Material culture embodying these sorts of
choices has an active role.
In spite of the bulkiness of Sacketts terms, this model is very useful in
its focus on the underlying role of stylistic variation. However, his model lacks
a clear methodology which would allow the researcher to identify the active or
passive nature of stylistic elements in specific data sets. With the variable of
width, for example, it would appear that within a given range of choices, one
width is as good as another in the context of isochrestic behavior. But if the
builders specifically selected certain widths as a social statement roads

exceeding widths of 20 meters are good candidates to support Sacketts
reasoning then iconological behavior is indicated. Unfortunately, Sacketts
model does not specify how to sort out a stylistic end-result from the range of
behaviors producing it.
Wiessners model is based on the premise that "style is a channel for
projecting aspects of identity" (Wiessner 1983:257). Identity has both personal
and group dimensions, and so does stylistic variation. Elements which support
personal identity are associated with assertive style and those supporting group
identity are associated with emblemic style. Wiessner defines assertive style as:
... formal variation in material culture which is personally based and
which carries information supporting individual identity by separating
persons from similar others as well as by giving personal translations of
membership in various groups (Wiessner 1983:258).
Emblemic style is "formal variation in material culture that has a distinct
referent and transmits a clear message to a defined target population about
conscious affiliation or identity" (Wiessner 1983:257).
Specificity or generality of the referent is the central variable in this
model, indicating whether an element is more suggestive of emblemic or

assertive style, respectively. The referent includes not only a social group but
the property, goals and norms attributed to it as well.
The analytical approach to emblemic style is relatively explicit and
includes four major indicators. First, clarity and uniformity of presentation
should be evident for stylistic elements which are thought to be emblemic. In
addition, these elements may be more extravagant than efficient in their
implementation. Second, the context in which emblemic style is important may
indicate either a non-continuous social component such as separation between
ethnic groups, or periods of stress on social or economic boundaries with a
concomitant reinforcement of the divisions between various groups. Third, the
spatial distribution of emblemic elements is discrete rather than clinal. Lastly,
the rate of change occurring in the distribution and presentation of a given
emblemic element is expected to be relatively slow.
The American flag is a good illustration of emblemic style. The flag
always looks the same and is easy to recognize regardless of where it is seen.
The flag represents a distinct polity U.S. citizens although the contexts in
which it is visible may often be unrelated to social stress. Distribution of the
flag is uniform in the sense that it is displayed in public buildings and civic
locations everywhere with equal frequency. Finally, the design elements of the

American flag have changed very slowly over the past 200 years in the nations
Assertive style is associated with personal identity. As such, its
implications are not relevant for analysis of artifacts manufactured in a public
context, such as the network of roadways in the San Juan Basin.
Consequently, this aspect of Wiessners model will not be addressed.
In this model, Macdonald (1990) also emphasizes the multidimensional
nature of style by characterizing all variation as either individual or group in
scale. In some cases, a single element of style may represent both individual
and group levels. Panache refers to individual expression and is defined as
"those social processes and related behaviors that are aimed at an atomistic
emphasis on the individual as a separate, independent, and unique element"
(Macdonald 1990:53). Macdonald distinguishes panache from Wiessners
assertive style by noting that the former is process and behavior while the
latter is the material result of behavior.
Protocol also refers to social process but its object is "the promotion of
group identity and membership at the expense of the individual" (Macdonald
1990:53). The processes of protocol operate at different levels of organization,

however, which are more institutional than informal in nature. Echoing the
assertive-panache distinction, Macdonald explains that protocols are the
behavioral processes which result in emblemic variation.
A further distinction in this model has significant methodological
implications. Panache is elemental and may be approached through the
analysis of discrete stylistic variables. Protocols, however, are composite and
focus on aggregates or sets of variables. This means that protocol is useful for
analysis of multiple components, both material and social, of stylistic variation
in the public domain. The methodology utilized here is to analyze all the
variables in aggregate (using a multivariate, one-way analysis of variance) in
order to establish whether there are any system-wide architectural patterns.
The central variable in Macdonalds model is the level or scale of
comparison. Rather than focussing exclusively on panache, which includes
elemental variables, or protocol, which includes composite variables,
Macdonald uses both levels of comparison in order to specify relationships
between variables through careful analysis of variation and co-variation.
Several points from these models are significant for the present
research problem. These include the active nature of stylistic expression from
Sacketts model of isochrestic behavior; the incorporation of composite
variables in promoting group identity in Macdonalds model; and emblemic

aspects of style in terms of formal variation and expression of group affiliation
from Wiessners model. My analysis will rely heavily on Wiessners stylistic
elements, especially, because of the ease with which they can be incorporated
into the methodological framework developed here. In general, however, each
of these models is concerned with (1) a distinction of scale between style that
is a personal expression and that which is expressive in the public realm, and
(2) the affiliative nature of shared stylistic concepts, which relates directly to
the question of social identification or integration. The analytical aspects of
each model will be discussed in more detail in the following chapter.
The analysis of the various road construction elements named earlier
incorporates each of these points. First and foremost, road construction is a
group activity, undertaken in a public context. Construction of public
architecture, in this case roads, embodies all three definitions of style alluded
to near the beginning of this chapter: it is social process, it is communicative
and it can be analyzed in terms of formal variation.
As social process relating to Macdonalds model of protocol, road
construction represents a composite of attributes or stylistic elements, i.e.,
roadbed preparation, width, curb features and directional orientation. Formal

variation in the construction of each of these elements is quantifiable. Width,
for example, can be measured in absolute terms represented in meters, or
slope may be measured in relative terms represented on an ordinal scale from
flat to vertical. Variation or uniformity in the distribution of these elements of
road construction are communicative in that they represent an expression of
group affiliation, through the presence or absence of stylistic consensus.
Distribution of the defined construction elements will be evaluated
according to the methodology outlined by Wiessner for emblemic style (except
that I will not evaluate rate of change) and will incorporate several key points
from the other two models. If the construction elements exhibit a high degree
of similarity throughout the road system, I will conclude that the Chacoan
interaction sphere is relatively more integrated, based on the presence of
stylistic expression or communication that is significant at the regional level.
Alternatively, if the construction elements exhibit significant variation within
the road system, or if the variation does not exhibit a significant pattern, I will
conclude that the Chacoan sphere is relatively less integrated at a sociocultural
level. Such a conclusion should not rule out the possibility of economic
integration since the exchange of resources does not require nor even imply
that both parties identify with each other ideologically, culturally, etc. The
point to bear in mind here is that if stylistic homogeneity can be documented

for the Chacoan road system as a whole, it will lend considerable support to
the thesis of sociopolitical integration. Widespread integration, in turn,
supports the argument for sociopolitical centralization. If a consistent stylistic
patterning cannot be demonstrated, it simply means that viewpoints leaning
toward centralization in the Chacoan core must look elsewhere for support.
The next chapter focusses on methodology, including quantification of
construction elements for analysis, and presents the results of statistical tests
for correlation of road construction attributes.

Selection of Data
In order to analyze stylistic attributes of road construction for their
sociopolitical implications, several elements were identified and isolated for
analysis. Selection of these elements, their compilation, statistical tests used to
establish the degree of correlation and the summary data are the foci of this
Before proceeding with a description of particular architectural
elements, it is important to address two major factors which have constrained
the data available for this analysis. First, the data are taken from multiple
sources (see Appendix for a tabulation of these sources and the corresponding
road segments which each documents). The variation in these sources
represents different surveys conducted by different individuals at different
times, all of which tends to compromise uniformity of survey and recording
techniques. This is not to imply any human error or even mismeasurement,
but simply to acknowledge the presence of human bias that cannot be

controlled for in an area that is as large and has been studied for as long as
the San Juan Basin.
Secondly, quantitative records are far from complete for those elements
of road architecture which I have chosen to analyze. There are at least three
major reasons for this: (1) previous researchers have concentrated on other
aspects of the road problem; (2) limited funding, time and survey crews have
made it difficult to collect detailed descriptive records for each and every
identifiable road segment in the Basin; and, as mentioned earlier, (3) the
roadways can be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to identify.
The following sections will (1) reiterate specific points of each of the
stylistic models presented in the last chapter, as they are incorporated
methodologically into my analysis, (2) review the data set for each variable of
road architecture, (3) offer predictions for each statistical test in the presence
of either high or low sociopolitical centralization, and finally, (4) present a
summary and discussion of statistical findings.
Analytical Points from the Models
Each of the three models previously discussed Wiessners assertive-
emblemic, Macdonalds panache-protocol and Sacketts isochrestic-iconological

makes a broad distinction of scale between style that is essentially a personal
expression versus style that has a public or social end. The points in these
models which correspond to that public or social context, then, are most
appropriate for analysis of roadway features because, according to my original
assumption, roads are an artifact of public architecture. Markers for
emblemic, protocol and iconological style have been operationalized in order
to look for statistical correlations in the road data studied here.
Wiessner identifies four clear indicators of the presence of emblemic
style. These are (1) clarity and uniformity of representation, including features
that are more extravagant than efficient, (2) a context of stress or
reinforcement of social boundaries, (3) a distribution of specific stylistic
elements that is clinal rather than discrete, and (4) change of any given stylistic
element that is slow and gradual rather than abrupt.
Two of Wiessners indicators can be tested for statistically in a relatively
straightforward manner: clarity of presentation and clinal distribution of each
element. The concept of extravagance versus functionality will be included as
a point of discussion in the summary remarks. The social, economic and

political contexts within which the roads were built cannot be tested with
quantitative methods, clearly, and will be discussed as a matter of qualitative
Several aspects of Anasazi culture are relevant to the issue of stress.
Demographic profiles in the Canyon and in the greater San Juan Basin are a
central concern in this discussion notwithstanding the fact that it is difficult,
based on our present knowledge, to establish reliable or noncontroversial
population figures for this area in the time period under consideration.
Climatological shifts are better understood, owing to substantial
dendrochronological and paleoclimatological research. Other cultural markers
that might indicate social, economic or political stress are the various building
events in the Canyon and in outlier communities, paleopathological evidence
and resource transport patterns throughout the basin. Each of these points
will be addressed and summarized as evidence of the presence or absence of
stress in the Chacoan interaction sphere as a whole during the approximately
200 years of the Chaco Phenomenon.
Change over time, whether gradual or rapid, is not possible to measure
at all in the case of road construction. As indicated in Chapter 2, the best
method we now have available for dating road alignments is by corresponding

ceramic scatters in the roadway or along its margins. Unfortunately, the
degree of resolution is not fine enough for ceramic type dating in the Basin to
define incremental periods within the entire spectrum of A.D. 900-1150.
Consequently, although stylistic change would be intriguing and extremely
profitable as a contribution to our understanding of road architecture variation
throughout the Chaco Phenomenon, it is simply not possible to pursue at this
There are two basic considerations in Macdonalds model that can be
evaluated in this research. First is the implication of group identity. Identity
in the case of road architecture may be expressed through various activities:
planning, building or using the roads. But, it may also inhere for people who
do none of these things and yet, simply by virtue of familiarity with an object,
place or activity, identify it as significant in their cultural milieu. In this sense,
it is assumed here that the road network represents the potential for group
identity at some level beyond the personal or domestic scales. Whether the
roads represent a social marker for communities or for the entire basin (which
would support a regional designation) relates directly to Wiessners question of

distribution of stylistic elements, and will be evaluated here for a pattern that
is either continuous or discrete.
Macdonald also points out that an aggregation of stylistic variables is
more indicative of protocol, which the reader may recall is the promotion of
group membership, normally in an institutional level of organization. By
extension, then, protocol is best measured statistically for road architecture as
an aggregate of all variables. A one-way analysis of variance will be used to
establish significance in the distribution of the four stylistic elements discussed
There is only one aspect of Sacketts model which can be
operationalized for use in this study and that is the role of style. Sackett states
that stylistic elements that are used for a social purpose, as opposed to those
that are personal, often unconscious or arbitrary choices, are evidence of
iconological behavior. A difficulty with this principle, as indicated in an earlier
discussion, is separating the end result from the behavioral choices determining
that result. It is conceivable, for example, that Chacoan roads in a given area
look the way they do because of personal engineering and planning decisions

which follow an unconscious mental template of "what roads should look like"
according to those individuals. This would, in Sacketts terms, be evidence of
isochrestic behavior. On the other hand, if roadways in many different parts of
the Basin are very similar, that would imply a mental template of "roadness"
that transcends individual choice which, like Wiessners emblemic or
Macdonalds protocol, indicates stylistic identity at a group level.
Consequently, Sacketts conception of the role of stylistic choice will be
tested in two steps: first, for clarity and uniformity of presentation in order to
separate individual notions of style from group expression and, secondly, for
discrete or continuous variation throughout the Basin in order to establish the
level of identification as community-oriented or regional.
Variables of Road Architecture
The four variables selected here as indicators of stylistic choices in road
building are width, type of roadside curbing (if any), the degree of preparation
of the roadbed and the trajectory of the road alignment in a straight or curved
line. In this research, 81 cases were selected for analysis from previously
documented surveys (see Appendix for a tabulation of each case and its
source). Each case represents a single road segment; segments were selected

on the basis of completeness of information for each of the above named
variables. In addition, the surrounding topography was noted for each segment
in order to test whether a steep terrain is significantly associated with simplicity
of roadbed preparation, narrowness of width, absence of curbing or linearity.
Finally, each segment was assigned to a quadrant -- south, west, north or in the
Canyon -- and to an isomorphic contour depending on its distance from Pueblo
Alto (see Figure 4.1), which is located just above the Canyon about 1.2
kilometers from Pueblo Bonito. The Pueblo Alto system was arbitrarily
designated as the core or zero point, and contours set at 50 kilometer intervals
radiating out from the core. This strategy yielded five intervals, i.e., 1-50 km.,
51-100 km., 101-150 km., 151-200 km. and 201-250 km., but six possible desig-
nations since the core segments were included as zero-readings. Designation
of distance away from the Canyon center is the prime consideration for clinal
versus discrete distributions of stylistic elements in the Basin.
There is a wide range of road widths in the cases reported here. The
narrowest is a one-meter wide staircase; the widest are two segments that
measure 23 meters each. For many segments, an absolute width was not

Figure 4.1
Chaco an road system divided into quadrants (A) and contour intervals
as a function of distance from Chaco Canyon (B) for statistical comparisons.

recorded, probably resulting from the difficulty of identifying exact road edges.
In these cases, when a range of widths was given, I have used a simple mean
to represent the midpoint of that range. All widths are measured in meters, to
the nearest tenth of a meter.
Roadbed Preparation
This variable has been ranked in four categories, depending on the
degree of modification to the ground. Excavation into bedrock, incised toe-
holds or cuts into a slope are category one. Ramps or causeways built above
the natural surface using rubble or earth are the second category. Stairways
cut into rock walls or constructed of masonry blocks constitute the third
grouping. Finally, category four includes segments with little or no
modification to the roadbed other than clearing of the surface, to form a slight,
convex swale.
Various kinds of curbing have also been ranked into categories. For
this architectural element, there are only three groups. The first is no curbing
at all. The second group includes berms and mounds constructed of earth,

peagravel or rubble. These may be a few centimeters in height or much taller,
massive earthworks more than a meter high. Formal masomy blocks in single
or multiple courses make up the final category.
While Chacoan roads are well known for their uncompromising
straightness, especially in the northern quadrant, the documented cases here
include a number of segments that are actually dog-legged or even curved. A
dog-leg represents a section of road which proceeds along a straight trajectory,
changes direction abruptly by a few degrees, then continues along its new path
in a straight line. Again, the variable here has been ranked into three
categories as either straight, dog-legged or curved.
While the surrounding topography does not constitute a variable of
choice, it is important to consider as a possible constraint to architectural
choice. For this purpose, topography has been categorized into five types
depending on steepness and elevation of terrain. The first category is flat
terrain and includes areas that have only a very slight or no measurable slope.

The second category is flat ground but in an elevated context, at the top of a
mesa, ridgecrest, etc. The third group is measurably sloping terrain such as
found on a hillside. Very steep terrain and vertical cliffs constitute the fourth
and fifth categories, respectively. Associations between difficulty of terrain and
each of the four major variables described above, will be summarized in the
final section of this chapter.
The purpose of the following statistical tests is to look for indications of
integration and, by association, centralization in the Chacoan interaction
sphere. If aspects of the following stylistic elements demonstrate emblemic,
protocol and iconological dimensions, we may reasonably conclude that roads
represent a communicative manifestation of a shared, sociocultural identity.
The selection and implementation of stylistic elements, in this case, are the
behavioral correlates of a sociopolitical entity that is both centralized and well-
integrated. On the other hand, the above stylistic elements may not exhibit a
pattern of distribution that is consistent with an integrated, centralized polity.
The table in Figure 4.2 represents the possible implications of the relative

Clarity and
of variation
Correlation of
all elements
in aggregate
Context of
social, economic
or political
HIGH: indicates more political
centralization or control;
broad social consensus of an ideal
architectural style; high
sociopolitical integration
DISCRETE: regional or local
control over design with clear
social or ideological boundaries
between groups; high integration
within groups
HIGH: strong patterning of design
elements indicates institutional-
ization of architectural style;
high centralized control; high
PRESENCE: may indicate need
for reinforcement of social
(or other) boundaries via broad
consensus in stylistic expression
LOW: indicates less political control,
less centralization; more regional or
local control over architectural decisions;
low integration
CLINAL: social or ideological influence
over design gradually decreases with
distance away from the center showing
limited central control; lower systemic
LOW: low centralized control of
overall design; high regional or
local determination of architectural
style; low integration
ABSENCE: does not indicate degree of
integration one way or the other; does
preclude one source of sociopolitical
motivation for high centralization
Figure 4.2
Implications of stylistic variability for sociopolitical centralization and integration.

presence, absence or other aspect of each variable. The following explores
each of these points.
In considering whether these road design elements exhibit clarity and
uniformity, a number of questions are pertinent. Are variations in width,
roadbed preparation, curbs and linearity extensive or limited? Are variation
profiles (in this case, frequency curves) similar from one quadrant to another
for each given element? Are the design elements more clear and uniform in
one area than another? Do these elements seem to indicate more
extravagance or functionality in their engineering and construction?
Clinal or discrete variation in distribution will be evaluated by
comparing like elements in each contour division. If elements are increasingly
more varied as the distance from the core increases, the distribution is clinal.
That is, if any or all elements show a clear pattern in the Canyon but lose that
clarity with increasing distance, it may be concluded that the core area does
not exert a consistently strong influence throughout the geographical area
defined by the road network. In this event, less sociocultural integration is
indicated. If variation is more distinctly patterned within quadrants as opposed
to contours, it is discrete rather than clinal. If such is the case, localized
expression is dominant, indicating that integration is more pronounced at the

sub-regional level than at a system-wide level. Or, if there is no significant
variation between the core and outlying areas, either by contour or quadrant, it
will be indicative of an extremely homogeneous, highly integrated system.
If the aggregate of variables analyzed shows a significant correlation,
Macdonalds criterion for protocol or group identity will be met. This would
also indicate the presence of sociocultural integration. In the absence of a
significant value for this multivariate analysis, the stylistic behavior associated
with road design and construction is probably not indicative of a publicly
shared ideology beyond the local level.
The existence of stress is more difficult to determine because of our
lack of ability to control for (1) incremental periods of time within the Chaco
phenomenon era and, (2) variation in local community patterns that may
indicate very different stress patterns from one place to another. The absence
of any evidence for social, economic or political stress would indicate, however,
that establishment of social boundaries is probably not a determining factor in
stylistic behavior. The sources of system stress discussed earlier will be
evaluated insofar as is possible to establish their relative potential impact.

Summary and Discussion of Findings
As a preliminary step, it is important to establish whether each of the
four architectural variables were in any way affected by topographic obstacles
or features. This was accomplished by running pair-wise correlations between
topography and each of the design variables. Only two of these pairs showed a
significant relationship: linearity (r= .370; CV= .232, with an error of .05) and
roadbed preparation (r= .573). Roads that are dog-legged occur more
frequently in terrain that is steep or vertical, but straight roads occur with
equal frequency, regardless of the slope in terrain. Curved roads are rare;
when they do occur, they are more likely to be in steep or vertical areas.
Roadbed preparation shows a clearer correlation with the surrounding
terrain: in steep to vertical areas, roadways occur as ramps or stairs. Areas
that are flat tend to correspond with a roadbed that is slightly excavated
(showing as a depression or swale in ground surveys) or they correspond with
road segments that show no preparation.
Findings are presented graphically in Figures 4.3, 4.4, 4.5 and 4.6. The
table in Figure 4.7 summarizes the analyses for road construction elements
with regard to their implications for systemic integration. Elements of context
are also presented in this table.

Clarity and Uniformity
Width is the best indicator of uniformity, although there are significant
variations in width frequency curves between quadrants. Overall, the road
network exhibits a trimodal profile (see Figure 4.3). Road widths, in other
words, tend to come in small (x= six meters), medium (x= nine meters) and
large (15 meters or wider). Road widths in the southern quadrant parallel this
trimodal distribution; those in the western quadrant are similar but those with
large widths fall off gradually in number rather than showing a clear third
mode. The northern quadrant is problematic because the sample is extremely
small: only six segments were included for these tests. Finally, the Canyon has
only a bimodal distribution with small and medium width roads.
Curbing features show considerable variation by quadrant (see Figure
4.4). Masonry curbs are almost nonexistent in the southern and northern
quadrants, occurring with greatest frequency in the Canyon. Masonry and
berm structures occur with nearly equal frequency in the western quadrant.
When curbs are present in the southern or northern quadrants, they are always
Roadbed preparation also varies widely from one quadrant to another
(see Figure 4.5). Swales (slight to no excavation) are most common

By Quadrant
Width (meters)
Figure 4.3

Number of Segments
u South West North Canyon
None 15 10 5 4
Masonry 0 I 6 0 15
Berm 18 7 1 2
ill None
Type of Curbing
Figure 4.4

By Quadrant
Number of Segments
l Swale
| Ramp
H Stairs
Type of Roadbed
Figure 4.5

throughout all quadrants except in the Canyon, where stairs and ramps are
more prevalent.
Linearity, like width, is also an indicator of more, rather than less,
uniformity and clarity. In all quadrants, road segments are more frequently
straight than curved or dog-legged (see Figure 4.6). As mentioned above, dog-
legs and curves tend to correspond to areas where the terrain is steep or
The question of extravagance or functionality in each of these design
variables is more difficult to assess because these are inherently subjective
measures. It may be postulated that roadbed preparation and curbing
contribute to the longevity of a roadway, or to its ease of maintenance, both of
which are reasonably considered matters of functionality. But, at what point
do ramps or curbs become extravagant? If a ramp width falls into the medium
category, is it functional? If its width is greater than nine meters, is it
extravagant? Or, should we measure this as a ratio of width-to-height of the
ramp? Is a curb of single-course masonry functional whereas one of double-
or triple-course is extravagant? Or, does this evaluation also depend on other
factors such as availability of materials, nearness to a great house or traffic
volume? Any conclusions regarding these two design elements seem to me to

Number of Segments
u South West North Canyon
Straight 25 17 5 10
Curved 2 3 0 2
Doglegs 5 3 0 7
Figure 4.6

Aggregate of
Width Roadbed Curbs Linearitv
Moderate Ambiguous Very low High
(extravagance may (considerable (curb elements (extravagance may
be indicated) extravagance and vary widely) high variability) be indicated)
Relatively Homogeneous (except in core area) Ambiguous No pattern (topography may account for asso- ciation of high labor investment with core) Homogeneous
No correlation or significant association of elements is indicated
(see discussion in Chapter 5 regarding conflictings implications of findings)
Presence of Stress Absence of Stress
Population increase and Distribution of material culture
climatological variation is generally homogeneous
are potential sources of
stress; paleopathological
stress is probable
Figure 4.7
Summary table of findings by road construction elements and implications for systemic integration.

be particularly speculative, although intriguing, and will be discussed with
regard to only a few isolated examples in the final chapter.
Road width and linearity, on the other hand, lend themselves to a
somewhat less speculative discussion. We know, for example, that very wide
roads were not a requisite for animal transport or wheeled vehicles: the
Anasazi used neither of these. Yet even average sized roads in the Chacoan
sphere were nine meters or approximately 27 feet in width. This is
comparable to a two-lane street in a modem suburban subdivision. The
assumption is, then, that people needed wide roads for foot traffic. But, why,
or better, when, is a two-lane or wider road necessary for foot traffic? The
labor investment to build a road half that size, for example, represents a
significant reduction in time and energy. In a physical environment that is
characterized as marginal for agriculture, the decision to construct consistently
wide roads appears to be an extravagant expenditure of labor and time.
Linearity represents a similar interpretive problem, and will be
discussed with regard to some specific examples in the concluding chapter. It
should be noted, however, that this design element is a hallmark of Chacoan
roads, and one which deviates little even in areas where the topography would
seem to present significant obstacles to a straight course. Again, the labor

investment to take the road through obstacles rather than around them seems
to indicate more extravagance than functionality.
When each design element was tested in pair-wise correlations with
distance away from the Canyon, none showed a significant distribution pattern,
with the exception of roadbed preparation. This pattern shows a clinal
distribution in which preparation decreases as distance increases. Segments
with relatively heavier investments in roadbed preparation, such as stairs or
ramps, tend to be located nearer the center. Road segments located further
from the Canyon tend to appear as swales.
Variation by quadrant is significant for two elements: width (r= -.305;
CV= .232, with an error of .05) and, again, roadbed preparation (r= .510).
Roads in the Canyon are, overall, narrower. That is, as mentioned above, they
are bimodal in distribution for small and medium widths only. Road widths in
the western and southern quadrants are more evenly distributed by size. The
northern roads, although represented by their small sample, also indicate an
even distribution of road widths.
The correlation between roadbed preparation and quadrant is reflective
of the fact that more stairs and ramps occur in the Canyon than in other

quadrants. As stated in the beginning of this section, roadbeds also tend to be
associated with topography. The findings in this case seem to indicate that
investment in roadway preparation is more related to happenstance of
geography than to any sociopolitical implication of a particular quadrant
Aggregate of All Elements
There are no significant associations between road construction
elements as a group. Width and roadbed preparation appear to be statistically
associated but this relationship is probably due to topographic variability, as
discussed in the preceding section. Implications for Macdonalds protocol
model are addressed in the final chapter.
Contextual Indicators of Stress
The following is a discussion of several elements which are useful
indicators of social, economic and, possibly, political stress. These elements
include demographic data, climatological changes, paleopathological evidence
and distribution of various items of material culture.

Population increase in this area over the course of the Phenomenon has
been well documented (Judge 1989; Lekson 1987). Changes are marked not
only in the types of residential features but also in growing community
aggregates and the absolute density of population as correlates of excavated
hearths. This increase alone is not a clear, direct indicator of stress but
provides the potential context for social differentiation, competition for power
and resources or other aspects of sociopolitical complexity that tend to
accompany rapid growth of a society. There is no direct evidence of warfare
or other overt competition among the Anasazi, such as might be recovered in
mortuary sites.
Effects of the climatic vagaries in this area present a highly
controversial body of data. There were two severe and prolonged periods of
drought during the eleventh and twelfth centuries A.D. that may have been
instrumental in the ultimate abandonment of the area (see for example Vivian
1990). On the other hand, architectural data from Great House structures
(Lekson 1987) indicate that the first of these periods corresponded with
widespread building expansion projects in the Canyon. Water control devices
such as irrigation ditches and run-off collection mechanisms were common
throughout the Canyon. Abundant storage facilities were also available.

These observations tend to support the interpretation that the Anasazi were
expert as desert resource managers certainly they and their ancestors had
successfully inhabited this part of the Southwest for more than a thousand
years. While there is substantial controversy as to whether drought was just
one causal factor or the chief cause in the abandonment, it would be
capricious to postulate that climatic unpredictability presented no stress at all
on social organization.
Evidence from paleopathological research attests to a strenuous
lifestyle, a relatively short lifespan (45 to 50 years is the mean age at death), a
high infant mortality rate, widespread incidence of arthritis associated with
aging and iron deficiency anemia, especially in juveniles (Palkovich 1984).
Unfortunately, skeletal remains from this period are fragmentaiy and
represent, overall, an extremely small sample of the total population thought to
have inhabited the Canyon over the 200 year period under consideration.
While transport of resources were marked by several shifts over this
time period, there is no clear understanding of the implications of these shifts
(Toll 1991). Whether shifting alliances among trading partners is indicated or,
perhaps, competition between local entities for control of resources, or even
variations in the availability of preferred local materials is not known at this

time. Consequently, this particular contextual element cannot be considered in
a discussion of systemic sociocultural stress without further research.
Each of these findings is discussed in the following chapter in relation to
the predictions based on stylistic analysis and for their implications for social
and cultural integration and centralization. The interpretations resulting from
this study are also compared to those of other, non-stylistic, evaluations of the
Chacoan Anasazi.

This research inquiry began with the question of sociocultural
integration as a component of centralization in the Chacoan interaction sphere.
Integration is evaluated here through an analysis of public architecture, the
Chacoan road network, based on the premise that architectural style (or any
aspect of style) is embedded in the social context in which it is created or used
and is a product of sociocultural phenomena (Conkey 1990). Further, stylistic
elements in public works may have a more specific referent than style that is
conceived of as personal. This referent may be significant at a local or
regional scale, depending, again, on the level and nature of integration in a
particular interaction area. The purpose of this chapter is to discuss the
findings of the previous section, offering possible interpretations, and to
compare the results of these findings with extant views of the Chaco

Findings Revisited
Each of the four markers of integration adapted from the stylistic
models used here (see Figure 4.2) will be explored. These are clarity and
uniformity of expression (including extravagance or functionality), distribution
of variation, correlations of the aggregate of stylistic variables and the relative
presence or absence of stress in the interaction sphere in terms of social,
economic and political contexts.
Clarity and Uniformity
The overall variation in width shows a clear pattern throughout the road
system, in the form of a trimodal distribution. However, segments in only the
southern and western quadrants correspond to this distribution. Roads in the
northern quadrant and in the Canyon have somewhat different distributions of
variation, leading to the conclusion that width is not a strict indicator of
uniformity. It is possible, on the other hand, that roads in the Canyon do not
exhibit the large width (15 meters or wider) due to topography and that the
absence of an identifiable pattern in the northern quadrant is due to sampling

Linearity is both clear and uniform throughout the system: roads are
most often straight, with markedly little deviation. Straightness, as mentioned
earlier, is one of the most prominent and consistent characteristics of Chacoan
road design.
Curbs, in contrast, present little clarity or uniformity. There is no
system-wide pattern in the distribution of curbing types, nor do any two
quadrants exhibit similarities in the frequency of curb material or design.
Roadbed preparation is an ambiguous variable as it relates to
integration. Segments in only two quadrants show similar distributions. These
are the southern and western quadrants, where swales occur most frequently.
However, this distribution pattern may, to a large extent, be correlated to
topography. Excavated roadbeds, as already established, occur more
frequently in areas with higher vertical relief. And, although roadbed
preparation did not correlate significantly with linearity, there are several
instances where massive amounts of earth were removed to build a road
segment, apparently in the interest of maintaining a straight course. In one
case (segment #008, see Appendix), the entire end of a ridge was removed,
which resulted in the formation of a berm measuring 13 meters wide, 22
meters long and a little more than one meter in height (Nials et al. 1987:35).

Another road segment (#145) was excavated into a sideslope for a distance of
over 100 meters, using the backfill to build up a level surface on the downslope
(Nials et al. 1987:105). In a third example, the road (segment #188) "...was
cut deeply onto sandstone bedrock for a distance of at least 75 meters,
resulting in a six-meter-wide, .5-meter-deep swale flanked on both sides by
four-meter-wide berms of sandstone rubble" (Nials et al. 1987:132).
This very substantial labor investment in earth removal brings us back
to the question of extravagance versus functionality. It seems reasonably clear
that in each of the just mentioned examples, a smaller labor expenditure would
have been possible had the builders, or engineers, by-passed the respective
obstacles and simply curved the roadbed around, rather than through them.
Also, in each of these examples, the increased long-term energy expenditure of
following a curved path instead of a straight one is very small.1 All in all, the
labor in each case does not conform to a simple formula of maximizing the
energy returned for labor invested in a particular task unless, of course, the
return was measured in some way other than energy savings. In such an event,
the indicator would be the same as for extravagance.
In some respects, then, the four design variables are indicative of clarity
and uniformity of style, especially with regard to linearity which is both

ubiquitous and associated in some cases with some degree of extravagance.
Variation in width represents a trend toward clarity and uniformity of style,
although this cannot be demonstrated statistically for all quadrants of the road
system. Roadbed preparation seems to represent an extravagant labor
investment with regard to its role in the maintenance of linearity in various
segments. The stylistic implication here is that the uniform straightness of road
alignments was more important than conservation of labor or energy
investment. According to the predictions discussed in Chapter 4 (see Figure
4.2), the Chacoan road system does exhibit some level of sociocultural
integration in the manifestation of a broad consensus of an ideal architectural
style (i.e., linearity and to some extent, width) which, in turn, is indicative of
some level of centralization. However, the nature and extent of this
centralization remains an important question in our understanding of the
dynamics of the Chacoan interaction sphere.
Distribution of Variation
Variation in each of the four design elements indicates an opposite view
of integration in the Chacoan sphere. There is no statistical pattern evident,
either clinal or discrete, in the distribution of these elements with regard to

distance away from the Canyon center, with one possible exception. The
Canyon itself differs from all other quadrants in terms of the distribution of
various road widths. That is, there are no very wide ro|ad segments in the
Canyon. While this may appear to represent a discrete pattern, a conservative
interpretation must take into account the peculiarities of the Canyon
topography and their likely effects on stylistic choice or design in this area.
Because linearity, curbing features and roadbed preparation vary without
regard to distance, showing neither a clinal nor discrete distribution pattern,
very low sociocultural integration is indicated for the Chacoan interaction
sphere. Instead, more localized control over two of these elements curbs and
roadbed preparation is probable. Linearity, as mentioned above, is consistent
everywhere throughout the road network. We are left, at this point, with
several stylistic markers that have conflicting implications. Before an attempt
is made to resolve this conflict, additional comments are offered regarding
context. !
Social. Economic or Political Stress
The demographic pattern shows a steady increase in population from
A.D. 900 to about 1100 in the greater San Juan Basin, as indicated by a

proliferation in the number of sites built during this period (Hayes et al. 1981;
Judge 1989; Lekson 1991). The number of rooms constructed in the Basin
totalled 6,461 for the period A.D. 700-900 (Pueblo I period). That number
more than quadrupled to 28,451 rooms in the following j 200 years (Judge
1989:220-221). Not only the number of rooms increased, but also the ratio of
storage to domestic rooms. According to Powers et al. (1983), storage rooms
became the dominant construction type during the period of the Chaco
Phenomenon. A heavy investment in construction at outlying communities is
also documented for this period (Powers et al. 1983). The increase in number
of sites, site size and the shift toward an emphasis on storage may indicate two
opposing dynamics: stress on available resources for a growing population or
the management capability of an increasingly complex socioeconomic structure
to control or mitigate that stress. In either event, it is clear that the dramatic
increase in numbers of sites, and a correlative increase in population, indicate
a potential context for differentiation in the decision-making apparatus of the
Chacoan Anasazi. The evidence for this potential differentiation will be
assessed below in relation to social context and indicators of stress.
The climate in the San Juan Basin is generally rdcognized as being
marginal for agricultural productivity (Vivian 1990; Judge 1989; Lekson 1991).

Within the greater Basin, however, there is substantial variation in rainfall with
the result that some areas experience little or no subsistence stress (Judge
1989:229). In addition, the rainfall in any given area is known to have
fluctuated profoundly, according to dendroclimatological analysis, during the
period of the Chaco Phenomenon (Rose, cited in Judge 1989:212-213). Even
so, Judge (1989), Lekson (1991) and Vivian (1990) have stated that the central,
and critical variable in Chacoan sociocultural development is their
environmental adaptation to an area characterized by unpredictable
precipitation. Judge (1989) and Sebastian (1992) note that the occurrence of
building events, and probably population size, in the Basin varies in direct
proportion to the amount of rainfall. The inescapable conclusion here, then, is
that the climate in this area imposes substantial stress economically, and by
extrapolation, on other cultural aspects Chacoan life.
On the other hand, it can also be argued that through their expertise in
resource management and water control, the Anasazi successfully maintained a
steady population growth for several centuries in this marginal environment. It
is important to recognize the distinction in timing between periods of
increasing development which were later followed by a broad collapse. In
other words, however the Chacoan sphere was structured, it worked for many

generations before it collapsed. My argument here is that stress is relative:
stresses that are managed well cease to be sources of conflict. Further, the
probable timing of road construction has been placed in the 10th and 11th
centuries (Kincaid 1983), generally in association with a trend in architectural
growth and development.
The paleopathological evidence is far less ambiguous. In sum, all
skeletal analysis indicates that the Chacoan Anasazi population suffered from
the same dietary stresses, with minimal or no differential access to resources
indicated (Akins 1986). There is limited evidence for differential wealth in a
small number of burials in Pueblo Bonito (Palkovich 1984; Akins and
Schelberg 1984). However, taken as a whole, the population in this area
during the time of the Chaco Phenomenon exhibits a number of dietary, work-
related and pathological stresses but their distribution is generally uniform
rather than indicating any ethnic, regional or class distinctions.
Distribution of material goods generally reflects this same uniformity,
especially in ceramics and shell (Judge 1989). Lithic distribution seems to
exhibit a shifting pattern from an early emphasis on local materials to a
gradually increasing emphasis on imported exotics such as marine shell. Shell
increases in the Basin between AJD. 1020 and 1120 both in frequency and in

the number of different genera documented (Judge 1989:232). This is certainly
indicative of growing trade and interaction outside the Basin but whether it can
be defined as a response to increasing stress in the form of growing
consumption needs or as a byproduct of an expanding population is difficult to
A notable exception to this broad distribution of material items is what
appears to be an inordinately high consumption rate of ceramics at Pueblo
Alto. The number of broken ceramic vessels is equal to a use rate of about
125 vessels per family per year, compared to a rate of about 17 per family per
year at other smaller sites (Judge 1989; Lekson et al. 1988). This high rate of
consumption is interpreted by Judge as evidence of periodic large gatherings of
people at the site. The lithic discard at Pueblo Alto is also very high: about
five times greater than for other village sites in or out of the Canyon
(Cameron 1984), and may also be related to periodic mass gatherings.
Material culture distribution does not emerge as a clear indicator of stress,
economically or socially: with very few exceptions (i.e., Pueblo Alto discard
rates), material distribution is more homogeneous than heterogeneous
throughout the interaction sphere.

In summary, the social, economic and political context can be
characterized as variably stressful. There is evidence, between A.D. 900 and
1100, of a general trend of low stress punctuated by periods of marginal
productivity. However, these crisis periods were accompanied by an increased
emphasis on resource management in terms of food storage and, possibly,
expansion of trade networks. Construction of roadways may be seen as a
response to population stress by providing a medium for economic expansion
or, alternatively, as an outgrowth of architectural development in periods when
stress was absent. This is an area of research where lack of chronological
control is particularly frustrating in that road construction events cannot be
correlated, at this time, with dendroclimatological indicators of low or high
precipitation or with periods of high construction activity in great house
Conflicting Interpretations
Of each of the stylistic elements discussed above, there is only one clear
indicator of sociocultural integration: linearity. Width of roads reflects a trend
toward integration, though there are several problems with sampling for this
aspect of design. Roadbed preparation, in some cases, indicates an

extravagant expenditure of labor and energy, which is consistent with
Wiessners criteria for emblemic style. However, roadbed engineering is most
often not extravagant or is associated with topographic necessity such as in the
case of incised or pecked stairways which ascend a vertical rock face. Curbing
features are highly variable and do not indicate systemic integration. Also,
distribution of variability is not patterned with regard to distance away from
the Canyon, nor does it exhibit a statistically significant regional pattern, also
indicating an absence of integration. Finally, the evidence for stress in the
Basin is variable and highly subject to interpretation. The area may be
described, with a certain amount of confidence, as affected by periods of stress
in terms of low rainfall, high population growth and dietary and pathological
compromise. However, the outstanding trend in this 200-year period is one of
development and expansion in material culture, architecture and demographic
patterns, all of which are indicators of an optimistic florescence rather than
systemic stress. As a whole, these various elements lead to conflicting
implications for integration in the Chacoan interaction sphere.
There are two analytical questions that can help to reconcile these
conflicting indicators. First, at what scale are these stylistic elements most

communicative? Second, what domain of public life social, economic,
political manifests a clear presence or absence of integration?
Micro- and Macro-Morphological Scales of Construction
At the micro level of analysis pursued in this evaluation of stylistic
elements, integration is not strongly indicated, and in some respects, is counter-
indicated, as discussed above. The one exception that most unambiguously
supports integration is the nearly omni-present straightness of road segments.
Because this element is a central characteristic of the Chacoan road network
as a whole, it is also a macromorphological feature. Two other characteristics
at this scale are the radial design of roadways, with Chaco Canyon located at
the center, and the general connective pattern linking outlying communities
with those in the Canyon. These three macro features are all strong
indications of integration within the greater San Juan Basin, and implicate
Chaco Canyon as a focal point for some kind of centralization. Considered
separately, micro and macro features are critical indicators of the nature and
extent of that centralization. Overall, as shown at the macro scale of analysis,
the greater Basin area constitutes a system that is characterized by internal
communication and a relatively high degree of cooperation. Roadway

connections are evidence of this communication, as are architectural patterns
(i.e., great house communities), lithic, ceramic and exotic material distribution
patterns. At the micro scale of stylistic analysis, a different pattern emerges
which is characterized, generally, by regional variability. This is not so much
an indicator of lack of integration as it is an acknowledgement that the core -
Chaco Canyon did not exercise total control over every aspect of, in this case,
road design and construction. The conclusion that follows from this dual
pattern is that the Chacoan interaction sphere was loosely integrated with the
incorporation of variable regional expressions. This interpretation contrasts
with that of Judge (1989) who postulates the development of emergent central
places in the Chacoan communities of Penasco Blanco, Pueblo Bonito, Una
Vida, Chetro Ketl and Pueblo Alto (refer: map in Figure 2.2). The function
of these centers, all located in the Canyon proper, was administrative and
redistributive, according to Judge. My conclusion also differs somewhat from
Sebastians view (1992) of the Chacoan sphere as a complex system with
institutionalized leadership, specialized decision-making roles and sociopolitical
differentiation. The limited nature and extent of integration indicated by my
analysis of stylistic elements in road architecture may be understood through a
consideration of the second question referred to above.