Interregional perspectives on the Sopris phase

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Interregional perspectives on the Sopris phase an examination of prehistoric frontiers in southeastern Colorado and northeastern New Mexico
Portion of title:
Examination of prehistoric frontiers in southeastern Colorado and northeastern New Mexico
Mitchell, Mark
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xi, 219 leaves : illustrations ; 29 cm


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Antiquities ( fast )
Antiquities -- Colorado ( lcsh )
Antiquities -- New Mexico ( lcsh )
Colorado ( fast )
New Mexico ( fast )
bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )


Includes bibliographical references (leaves 150-189).
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 Mark Mitchell.

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|University of Colorado Denver
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Full Text
Mark Mitchell
B.S., University of Utah, 1991
A thesis submitted to 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
Mark Mitchell
has been approved
Linda Curran
Linda Cordell

Mitchell, Mark (MA, Anthropology)
Interregional Perspectives on the Sopris Phase: An Examination of Prehistoric
Frontiers in Southeastern Colorado and Northeastern New Mexico
Thesis directed by Assistant Professor Tammy Stone
The recognition and explanation of long-distance social and economic
networks has been a central domain of archaeological discourse for more than a
century. Current models of interregional interaction among small-scale societies
typically invoke environmental risk minimization or emergent sociopolitical
complexity to explain the existence of such networks. However, these models
generally fail to make explicit links between the social configurations
characteristic of small-scale societies and the development of interregional
systems. This study draws on the notion of the cultural frontier to make those
linkages, and to explore the social consequences of long-distance interaction.
Using elemental composition data, this study examines the exchange of gray ware
vessels between southeastern Colorado and northeastern New Mexico during the
11th and 12th centuries. The frequency and distribution of imported utility wares
at Sopris phase sites located near Trinidad, Colorado, demonstrates the
significance of the transformative social processes characteristic of interregional
This abstract accurately represents the content of the candidates thesis. I
recommend its publication.

As with all archaeological research projects, credit for the successful
completion of this study must go to many individuals and organizations. Funding
for this project has been generously provided by the US Army Corps of
Engineers, Albuquerque District; the Colorado Historical Societys State
Historical Fund; and the Colorado Council of Professional Archaeologists.
Particular credit must be given to Ron Kneebone and John Schelberg of the Corps
of Engineers for their early and enthusiastic support.
Helpful discussions and critiques were offered by Kitty Corbett, Todd
McMahon, Antonio Curet, Jeff Boyer, C. Dean Wilson, Eric Blinman, Arleyn
Simon, John Zachman, Steve Ireland, John Brett, Ron Towner, Meg Van Ness,
Steve Kalasz, David Kirkpatrick, Steve Zimmer, Mike Glassow, and Sandy
Karhu. Phil Duke, Web Dorshow, A1 Kane, Vince Shiavitti, Mike Nowak, Steve
Chomko, Chris Lintz, and Dick Krause, all of whom were participants in a
symposium presented at the 62 Annual Meeting of the Society for American
Archaeology entitled "An Undiscovered Country: The Archaeology of
Southeastern Colorado and Northeastern New Mexico," provided especially
helpful comments and criticisms.
Mike Adler generously provided comparative samples from the Valdez
phase ceramic collections housed at Southern Methodist Universitys Fort
Burgwin Research Center, as well as access to the site data stored there. John
Moore, Dan Jepson, and Pete Gleichman provided invaluable, though hard-to-
find, archaeological reports. Tom Windes generously shared the original
paleomagnetic pole position data reanalyzed in this report.
Jim Burton, of the Laboratory for Archaeological Chemistry at the
University of Wisconsin, conducted the elemental composition analysis on which
this project is based. Kathy Puseman, of Paleoresearch Laboratories, conducted
the macrobotanical analysis. Jeff Eighmy, of Colorado State University,
generously processed and assisted with the interpretation of the archaeomagnetic
This project has greatly benefitted from the thoughtful criticisms and
encouragement provided by the members of my thesis committee. In particular,
the outstanding support provided by Tammy Stone has been instrumental in the
successful and timely completion of this project. Thanks must also be given to
Sue Struthers, Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest Archaeologist, who allowed
me the time away from my professional responsibilities to complete this study.
Special credit and thanks are due to Loretta Martin of the Louden-Henritze

Archaeology Museum at Trinidad State Junior College. Without her unfailing and
enthusiastic assistance this project would not have been possible. Credit must also
be given to the Board of Directors of the Louden-Henritze Museum for their
support of continuing research in the archaeology of the Trinidad district.
Of course, any errors, whether of omission or commission, are solely the
responsibility of the author.

1. INTRODUCTION........................................................... 1
Organization of the Study.......................................... 4
The Data Base...................................................... 5
2. PHYSIOGRAPHY AND ENVIRONMENT OF THE REGION ............................ 6
Boundaries......................................................... 6
The High Plains.................................................... 6
Climatic Variation On The High Plains...................... 8
Flora and Fauna Associations ........................ 10
Paleoclimate of the High Plains............................ 11
The Northern Rio Grande........................................... 14
Climatic Variation in the Rio Grande Valley................ 14
Flora and Fauna Associations ........................ 16
Paleoclimate of the Northern Rio Grande.................... 16
Patterns of Climatic Variability ................................. 17
3. MODELING INTERREGIONAL INTERACTION.................................... 19
The Problem Domain ............................................... 19
Previous Models of Plains-Pueblo Interaction...................... 20
Ecological Models.......................................... 20
Stress Models........................................ 21
Mutualistic Models................................... 22
Sociopolitical Complexity Models .......................... 23
Critique of Previous Models....................................... 25
Prehistoric Frontiers............................................. 27
Recognition of Archaeological Frontiers ................... 29
Households and Communities ....................................... 31
Inequality and Hierarchy in Small-Scale Societies ................ 34
Theories of Social Action......................................... 34
Origins of the System...................................... 35
Consequences of the System................................. 36
The Sopris Phase As A Frontier Society............................ 37
Archaeological Implications................................ 38

4. REGIONAL ARCHAEOLOGICAL CONTEXT..................................... 40
High Plains Culture History .................................... 40
The Plains Woodland Period: A.D. 200-A.D. 900/1000 .... 42
Graneros Focus..................................... 43
Post-A.D. 750 Developments......................... 45
The Early Plains Village Period: A.D. 900/1000-A.D. 1400 . 47
Plains Village Tradition........................... 47
Apishapa Phase..................................... 49
Southern Park Plateau Phases ...................... 51
Summary: Culture Process in Southeastern Colorado and
Northeastern New Mexico................................... 53
Northern Rio Grande Culture History ............................ 55
Pre-A.D. 1000 Developments................................ 57
Differentiation PeriodA.D. 1000/1050-A.D. 1130/1150 or
1200 .............................................. 58
Valdez Phase ...................................... 58
Reorganization PeriodA.D. 1150/1175 or 1200-A.D. 1300 . 60
Pot Creek Phase ................................... 60
Talpa Phase ....................................... 61
Aggregation PeriodA.D. 1300-A.D. 1540 ................... 62
Summary: Culture Process in the Taos District................... 62
Patterns of Interregional Interaction........................... 64
5. SOPRIS PHASE ARCHAEOLOGY............................................ 67
Plains Woodland PeriodA.D. 200-900/1000 ....................... 67
Early Plains Village PeriodA.D. 900/1000-1400 ................. 68
Sopris Phase Archaeology ....................................... 70
Sopris Phase Chronology................................... 83
Ceramic Chronology................................. 83
Absolute Dates .................................... 87
Settlement Patterns ...................................... 94
Geographical Extent of the Sopris Phase............ 94
Architecture.............................................. 95
Economy .................................................. 99
Social Organization.......................................100
Burial Practices...................................101
6. METHODOLOGY.........................................................104
Assumptions of Archaeological Provenance Studies............... 105
Sources of Variability....................................106

Characterization Methods.....................................106
Chemical Characterization..............................107
Multidimensional Approaches .................................109
Analytical Requirements......................................110
Specific Chemical Characterization Methods ................. Ill
Data Reduction and Analysis..................................113
Methods Utilized in this Study...............................114
Sampling Procedure.....................................115
Analytic Procedures....................................116
7. CERAMIC CHARACTERIZATION RESULTS................................ 118
Black-on-White Vessels.......................................121
Plain and Incised Vessels....................................121
Cord-roughened and Polished Wares............................131
Structure Assemblages........................................134
8. DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS.......................................139
The Sopris Phase Community ..................................139
9. REFERENCES.......................................................150
10. APPENDICES .....................................................190

1.1. Regional Map........................................................... 2
2.1. Physiography of the High Plains........................................ 7
2.2. Potential Vegetation of Eastern Colorado and New Mexico ............... 9
2.3. Paleoclimate of the High Plains....................................... 13
2.4. Physiography of the Northern Rio Grande............................... 15
4.1. High Plains Cultural Systematics ..................................... 41
4.2. The Bel wood Site..................................................... 44
4.3. Vermejo Phase Site ................................................... 46
4.4. Apishapa Phase Site .................................................. 50
4.5. Ponil Phase Site...................................................... 52
4.6. Northern Rio Grande Cultural Systematics ............................. 56
4.7. Valdez Phase Site..................................................... 59
5.1. Site Plan, 5LA1211 ................................................... 71
5.2. 5LA1211, Structure 1 ............................................... 72
5.3. 5LA1211, Structure 2................................................ 73
5.4. 5LA1211, Structure 3................................................ 74
5.5. 5LA1211, Structure 4................................................ 75
5.6. 5LA1211, Structures 5 and 6........................................... 76
5.7. Site Plan, 5LA1416 ................................................... 78
5.8. 5LA1416, Structure 1 ............................................... 79
5.9. 5LA1416, Structure 2................................................ 80
5.10. 5LA1416, Structure 3 .............................................. 81
5.11. 5LA1416, Structure 4 .............................................. 82
5.12. 5LA1416, Structure 5 .............................................. 84
5.13. 5LA1416, Structure 6 .............................................. 85
5.14. The Sopris Phase Community ........................................ 96
7.1. AE-ICP Data Plot, All Samples.........................................120
7.2. AE-ICP Data Plot, Black-on-white Samples..............................122
7.3. AE-ICP Data Plot, Incised and Gray Ware Samples...................... 124

7.4. AE-ICP Data Plot, Plain and Incised Samples ...................... 126
7.5. AE-ICP Data Plot, Ft. Burgwin Samples .............................128
7.6. Plain and Incised Ware Frequencies from Selected Structures......... 129
7.7. AE-ICP Data Plot, Incised Samples..................................130
7.8. AE-ICP Data Plot, Samples from "Early" Contexts................... 132
7.9. AE-ICP Data Plot, Samples from "Late" Contexts.................... 132
7.10. AE-ICP Data Plot, Cord-roughened and Polished Samples............ 133
7.11. Ware Frequencies, All ICP Data...................................135
7.12. Floor Assemblage Ware Frequencies from Selected Structures....... 138

5.1. Original Sopris Phase Radiocarbon Dates ............................. 88
5.2. New Sopris Phase Radiocarbon Dates .................................. 90
5.3. Sopris Phase Archaeomagnetic Dates................................... 91
5.4. Summary of Selected Radiocarbon and Archaeomagnetic Dates......... 93
6.1. Trinidad District Analytic Units.....................................115
6.2. Ceramic Attribute Categories.........................................116
7.1. AE-ICP Samples, Taos District .......................................118
7.2. AE-ICP Samples, Trinidad District....................................119
7.3. Provenience of Black-on-White Compositional Clusters................ 123
7.4. Comparison of Compositional and Technological Categories, Plain and
Incised Sherds.....................................................125
7.5. Provenience of Polished and Cord-roughened Sherds .................. 134
7.6. Ware and Provenience Distribution of Trinidad District ICP Samples 136
7.7. Floor Assemblage Ware Frequencies from Selected Trinidad District
Structures ........................................................137
8.1. Maximum Transport Distance for Selected Subsistence Products .... 141

Thus do primitive peoples transcend Hobbesian chaos.
Marshall Sahlins (1965:140)
This study uses culinary pottery production and distribution data to clarify
the nature of interregional interaction between southeastern Colorado and north-
central New Mexico during the 11th and 12th centuries. This research project
evaluates existing models of long-distance Plains-Pueblo exchange, and focuses
archaeological attention on the social origins and consequences of such
interaction. The data on which this study is based derive from Sopris phase sites
located in the Trinidad district of southeastern Colorado, and Valdez phase sites
located in the Taos district of north-central New Mexico (Figure 1.1).
Traditional archaeological approaches to interregional ceramic exchange
have focused primarily on the production and distribution of decorated wares.
Archaeologists have tended to assume that culinary pottery production was a
household-based activity and that the exchange of utility wares was minimal.
Indeed, relatively few studies have focused on the exchange of culinary ceramics
(e.g. Blinman 1988; Habicht-Mauche 1987, 1988; Zedeno 1994), despite the
pioneering efforts of Shepard (1954). The study of regional and interregional
culinary pottery distribution networks has the potential, however, to enlarge the
archaeological understanding of cultural transformation and stability among small-
scale societies.
To take advantage of this relatively untapped data set, archaeologists need
to develop a new set of interpretive approaches which highlight the nature of
prehistoric social interactions among small-scale societies. An understanding of
the relationship between the Sopris phase and other communities in the region
mms on more general models of intersocietal contact, particularly those which
have been explored under the rubric of "Plains-Pueblo" interaction. Explanations
for the form and content of various archaeological sites and phases throughout the
region have frequently been framed in terms of data derived from the Southwest
(e.g. Hunt 1975; Glassow 1980) or the Plains (Lintz 1986). As a result, the
nature of the relationships between the Sopris phase and adjacent communities
have never been convincingly described or explained, and consensus is lacking on
the nature of the Sopris phase itself. By one account it has been viewed as a
manifestation of the Early Plains Village Pattern, to which contemporaneous
cultures in southeastern Colorado, western Oklahoma, and western Texas have

Figure 1.1. Regional Map.

been assigned (Baugh 1994; this study, Chapter 5). Alternatively, the Sopris
phase has been seen as an extension of the Anasazi occupation of the northern
Rio Grande valley (Boyer et al. 1994; Glassow 1980; Wood and Bair 1980).
Although researchers have generally recognized that many of the communities on
the eastern slope of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains participated in some sort of
large-scale interaction network, relatively few attempts have been made,
particularly for the prehistoric period, to understand the mechanisms by which
that interaction came into being, and the consequences it may have had for the
There are a variety of obstacles to the development of a robust framework
for understanding and explaining interregional interaction among small-scale
societies. One of the first obstacles encountered lies in the nature of the models
themselves. Although a variety of approaches have been developed to describe
and explain large-scale social and economic networks, they frequently conflate
explanations for interaction with explanations for either cultural stability or
increasing sociopolitical complexity. At least implicitly, societies have been
viewed as either "hot," in which case internal mechanisms are seen as the basis
of cultural transformation, or "cold," in which case culture change is seen as the
product of adaptive processes. As a result, the use of various perspectives has
been conditioned as much by the ways in which archaeologists view the nature of
small-scale societies as it has by direct empirical evidence for exchange.
Specifically, previous approaches have generally failed to make explicit
explanatory links between the social configurations which anthropologists know to
be characteristic of small-scale societies, and the development of pan-regional
systems. This study draws on the notion of the "frontier" to make those linkages,
and to clarify the social consequences of interregional interaction.
The definition of the frontier developed in this study focuses on the social
dimensions of long-distance interaction. In this usage, the frontier is a social
relation which structures interactions among households, communities, and
societies which ascribe to themselves different social identities. The frontier is a
set of economic, social, and political relationships which cross-cut traditionally-
defined social boundaries (Lightfoot and Martinez 1995). It is also a dynamic
relationship which structures social action at a distance, a distance which can be
measured in social as well as geographical space.
Much of the archaeological research which has focused on social and
economic relationships across this sort of "cultural frontier" has framed the issue
in terms of farmer-forager interaction (Spielmann and Eder 1994). This research
has shown that, rather than being a barrier to interaction, a frontier is frequently
characterized by processes of active cultural transformation or "creolization"
(Lightfoot and Martinez 1995: 472). Households, communities, corporate groups
and societies located along cultural frontiers engage in a variety of economic,

social and political interactions with other groups, interactions which are creative
in the sense that from them new cultural configurations are produced. Frontier
interaction is a dynamic process because it involves the negotiation of new social
roles, as well as resistance to those new roles.
Organization of the Study
Because this study is concerned with interregional social and economic
contacts, the area of interest is naturally large and diverse. Specifically, the study
region includes portions of two distinct, normatively-defined culture areas, the
Southern Plains and the Northern Rio Grande. Chapter 2 discusses the
geographical and environmental context in which the 11th and 12th century
interaction between these two regions took place.
Chapter 3 provides an overview and critique of the models which have
been used to describe and explain Plains-Pueblo interaction. The chapter
concludes with a discussion of archaeological frontiers, and the ways in which
they can be used to resolve some of the specific problems identified with previous
Chapter 4 outlines the regional archaeological context. The discussion
treats the archaeology of southeastern Colorado separately from the archaeology
of north-central New Mexico, primarily due to the lack of a common descriptive
framework for the two regions. Although southeastern Colorado has been
occupied throughout much of the Holocene, the most extensive, and probably
intensive, exploitation of the area appears to have occurred between about A.D.
200 and A.D. 1400. The discussion, therefore, focuses on this period. The
chapter concludes with a discussion of the evidence for interregional contact
between these two regions.
Chapter 5 focuses specifically on Sopris phase archaeology. Despite more
than 25 years of research in the Trinidad district, no general synthesis has been
produced. This chapter touches on a variety of topics, including chronology,
settlement patterns, architecture, economy, and social organization, and offers a
number of new interpretations of the archaeological record of the district.
Chapter 6 describes the methods utilized in this study. As noted above, the
primary data for this research are ceramic compositional information. The chapter
discusses the development and application of ceramic provenance data, and
outlines the specific procedures used to generate elemental composition data on
Sopris phase ceramics. Chapter 7 discusses the results of this compositional
Chapter 8 assembles several lines of evidence to evaluate the explanatory
power of the frontier model developed in Chapter 3. Although the specification of

formal test hypotheses is one possible antidote to the construction of "just-so"
stories, an overly-literal approach to hypothesis testing can obscure important
relationships. The interpretations offered in Chapter 8 provide a context for the
ceramic data presented in Chapter 7, and demonstrate the general utility of the
frontier analytic approach.
The Data Base
The data utilized in this study are derived from archaeological
investigations conducted in the Trinidad district between 1954 and 1977 by the
Trinidad State Junior College Laboratory of Contract Archaeology. During that
time, seven principal investigators conducted both survey and excavation projects
for the Corps of Engineers Trinidad Lake Flood Water Control Project, located
approximately 5 miles west of Trinidad, Colorado. The resulting collections are
currently housed at the Louden-Henritze Museum of Archaeology at Trinidad
State Junior College.
Each of these principal investigators utilized different provenience systems
and nomenclature (see Appendix B). As a result, there are a number of
limitations in the available data. Provenience information is unavailable for some
of the structures and features at Sopris phase sites. The excavation of relatively
large provenience units in arbitrary levels further limits the sorts of conclusions
which can be drawn. As a result of these limitations, many of the analyses and
interpretations offered in this study are based on a smaller selection of excavation
units for which detailed artifact proveniences and excavation notes are available.

Any more or less arbitrary division of the landscape into "study regions"
is bound to cross-cut prehistoric social configurations as well as modern
archaeological research projects. Keeping in mind that the specification of a
bounded study region has the potential to confuse an analysis of interregional
interaction, the geographical context in which the Sopris phase can be understood
is bounded on the north by the Arkansas River, on the south by the Canadian
River, on the east by the western portions of the Oklahoma and Texas
panhandles, and on the west by the Rio Grande (Figure 2.1). The western
boundary of this more-or-less rectangular region confronts most acutely some of
the methodological problems associated with the study of interregional
interaction, which are discussed in Chapter 3. For this reason, the discussion
which follows treats the study region as two unequal halves separated by the
Sangre de Cristo Mountains. These regions are generally coincident with the
northwestern portion of the Southern High Plains and the Northern Rio Grande
portion of the Southwest.
The High Plains
That portion of the study area which lies to the east of the Sangre de
Cristo Mountains is characterized by a wide variety of macro- and micro-
environmental climatic regimes (Figure 2.2). The western and central portions of
this area have been termed the Raton Section, which includes three subsections
(Fenneman 1931). The western subsection includes the Park Plateau and the
foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, a highland extending from Huerfano
Park in the north to the headwaters of the Canadian River in the south. Elevations
range from roughly 10,000 feet in the west to 7,000 feet in the east. The Park
Plateau also includes the Spanish Peaks, extinct volcanoes roughly 13,000 feet in
elevation. The central subsection of the Raton Section is known as the Raton
Mesa Group and consists of a series of high mesas extending eastward from the
Park Plateau along the Colorado-New Mexico border. This extensive series of
mesas was formed by Quaternary and Tertiary lava flows which overlay the

Figure 2.1. Physiography of the High Plains.

remnants of a former high plain. The Raton Mesa Group ranges in elevation from
5,000 to 9,500 feet above sea level. To the south of the Raton Mesa Group lies
the Las Vegas Plateau. This subsection is an elevated extension of the High
Plains physiographic province which is traversed in places by several permanent
streams and rivers, and embellished by a variety of volcanic features (Campbell
1969: 26). To the north of the Raton Mesa Group lies the Chaquaqua Plateau, a
continuation of the Las Vegas Plateau This deeply-dissected plateau region
ranges in elevation from roughly 4,000 to as much as 7,000 feet above sea level.
The extreme northern portion of the study region falls into the Colorado
Piedmont Section or Central High Plains, an area characterized by flat or
modestly rolling terrain between 4,000 and 5,000 feet in elevation (Eddy et al.
1982: 18). The extreme eastern portions of the study region belong to the Llano
Estacado, a portion of the High Plains Section (Fenneman 1931). The Llano
Estacado, or "Staked Plains," is bounded by a series of escarpments on the east
and west, and is characterized by flat or gently rolling terrain which dips to the
southeast (Lintz 1986: 41).
The western boundary of the High Plains is marked by the Sangre de
Cristo and Cimarron Mountains, which are southern extensions of the Southern
Rocky Mountains physiographic province (Fenneman 1931). Elevations along the
crest of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains vary from roughly 11,000 to 13,000 feet
above sea level.
Climatic Variation On The High Plains
Precipitation in the region generally increases from east to west, although
this trend is interrupted or modified by local topographic variation. As a
consequence, the region is characterized by a complex mosaic of biotic-
topographic regimes. At Las Animas, Colorado, in the northeastern eastern
portion of the study area annual rainfall averages 31 centimeters, with the wettest
months during the summer (Eddy et al. 1982). By contrast, annual precipitation
at Folsom, New Mexico, located on the northern edge of the Las Vegas Plateau,
averages about 49 centimeters (Winter 1988). At a somewhat lower elevation in
the vicinity of Trinidad, Colorado, on the western edge of the study region,
precipitation averages about 41 centimeters, again with the bulk of the
precipitation falling in the summer months. In the far western and southwestern
portions of the study area precipitation approaches 50 centimeters annually
(Ireland 1974a). Currently the average frost-free period at Trinidad is about 160
to 170 days (Ireland 1974a; Siemer 1977).
Annual local variations in both precipitation and temperature can be
dramatic (Zier et al. 1989). Campbell (1969: 41) notes that stochastic variations


in precipitation at any given locality can be greater than the long-term variations
between localities. In one case total annual precipitation varied between 24 and 81
centimeters at a single weather station. Month-to-month rainfall variations are
often similarly dramatic.
Due largely to the influence of topographic variation, the arrangement of
biotic associations on the landscape does not correspond to rainfall isopleths.
Lintz (1986: 60), for example, reports that 487 plant species, grouped into five
distinct associations, have been identified for the High Plain-Canadian Valley
locality immediately southeast of the current smdy area. Similarly, Campbell
(1969: 27) divides his Chaquaqua Plateau study area into four distinct regions,
based primarily on topographic variation. For the region immediately south of
Campbells smdy area, Winter (1988) notes that the valley of the Dry Cimarron
River represents an eastward extension of the Rocky Mountain foothills ecotone,
and is therefore relatively rich in faunal and floral resources as compared to the
surrounding High Plains Steppe.
Despite this variability, four primary, distinctive associations can be
defined for the region. While the resources available in any given locality may
vary, and particular points on the landscape may diverge considerably from their
ideal or potential composition, these four associations delimit the total range of
resources available in the smdy area.
Flora and Fauna Associations. The four biotic communities described
below are a product of the interaction of several interrelated variables, principally
altimde, aspect, rainfall, and temperature. In the northern and southern portions
of the smdy area the landscape is dominated by the High Plains Steppe
association. The crests and flanks of mesas and foothills in the western and
central portions of the smdy area are dominated by a pinon-juniper woodland.
This woodland is particularly widespread on the Park Plateau. At higher
elevations in the extreme western portion of the smdy area mixed conifer
communities dominate. Finally, most of the major streams in the area support a
riparian plant community. The following brief descriptions are derived primarily
from Ireland (1974a) and E. Anderson (1975).
The High Plains Steppe is a short-grass prairie dominated by grama and
buffalo grasses, and studded with yucca and a variety of cacti. This association is
generally treeless, although in some areas low shrubs, including sagebrush and
gooseberry can be found. Taller grasses associated with the sandsage-bluestem
prairie community occur along the eastern edge of the smdy area. Associated
fauna includes bison, pronghorn antelope, jackrabbit, blacktailed prairie dog, and
The pinon-juniper woodland covers large portions of the western foothills

in the study region. This association is also found on the flanks of mesas
extending well out onto the plains, where such stands are often termed "cedar
breaks." The woodland is dominated by juniper, with variable amounts of pinon
pine. At the upper limits of this association, or where conditions are cooler or
wetter, pinon pine is more common. Associated shrubs commonly include
mountain mahogany, chokecherry, scrub oak, and gooseberry. A wide variety of
grasses and forbs are also components of this community. Associated faunal
includes both large and small mammals such as mule deer, lion, elk, jackrabbit,
and porcupine. Several species of birds also inhabit the woodland, including
eagles and turkeys.
The mixed conifer forests in the western portion of the study area are
typically dominated by ponderosa pine at lower elevations and Douglas fir at
higher elevations. Associated shrubs include common juniper. Like the pinon-
juniper woodland a diverse assortment of large and small mammals are associated
with this community.
Riparian vegetation in the study area is dominated by cottonwood and
willow trees, often found in association with a variety of grasses, forbs and
shrubs, including cattail, sedges, Virginia creeper, and nettles. Beaver, gopher,
muskrat and a variety of birds are also associated with the riparian community.
Paleoclimate of the High Plains
Although modem climatic conditions provide a "baseline" against which
the prehistoric productive potential of the region might be evaluated,
paleoclimatic reconstructions are important to an understanding of past cultural
processes. The primary difficulty associated with the reconstruction of
paleoclimatic conditions, however, is the extrapolation of what are essentially
locality-specific data to the broader landscape. It is clear that large-scale
paleoclimatic interpretations depend of the understanding of processes which may
not be evident in geographically-restricted data sets (e.g. Dean 1988). Although
paleoclimatic data are available for the vicinity of the study region, several
partially-contradictory reconstructions have been proposed. At the same time
much of what is known about past climates derives from the archaeological
record, a source which does not generally provide "unfiltered" access to
climatological data. It is, however, possible to make some general statements
about past climatic conditions in the region, and the effects those conditions might
have had on the residents of the region.
Past climatic conditions on the southern High Plains have been discussed
and summarized by Baugh (1994), Dorshow, Scheick and Lang (1997), Eddy et
al. (1982), Feiler (1994), Lintz (1986), Loendorf, Borchert, and Klinner (1996);

Schuldenrein (1985), Van Ness (1984) and Zier et al. (1987). Most of these
studies indicate that, although there have been climatic fluctuations during the last
5,000 years, environmental conditions have remained fairly stable throughout the
second half of the Holocene. The distributions of archaeologically-recovered plant
taxa generally mirror the modern distributions of those same taxa, although a
number of specific changes have been documented (e.g bison [Dillehay 1974; but
see Butler 1992]; pinon nuts [Feiler 1994]; prairie vole [Hall 1982]; and
freshwater mussels [Saunders 1983; Winter 1988]). However, while large-scale
trends have been relatively static, important smaller-scale climatic fluctuations
have occurred, fluctuations which may have had consequences for the human
occupants of the region.
Two general sorts of climatic reconstructions have been proposed for the
region (Figure 2.3). Schuldenrein (1985) suggests that cooler and moister
conditions prevailed between about 2500 B.C. and 300 B.C., or during the much
of the Middle and Late Archaic periods. Between 300 B.C. and A.D. 1000, a
period which includes the terminal Late Archaic and the Plains Woodland
periods, Schuldenrein argues that climatic conditions were warmer and drier.
From the beginning of the Early Plains Village period (A.D. 1000) to the present,
conditions have generally been warm and dry, although punctuated by small-scale
or short-term cool "pulses."
A second reconstruction has been offered by Lintz (1986), Loendorf,
Borchert and Klinner (1996), and Zier et al. (1987). These authors argue that
during the Plains Woodland period (A.D. 200-A.D, 1000), climatic conditions
were relatively cool and moist, with cooler and wetter summers and consequently
more luxuriant vegetation. Between about A.D. 1100 and 1300 the climate began
to shift toward warmer and dryer conditions, culminating in a severe drought
after about A.D. 1350. After A.D. 1500 or 1550 conditions again returned to the
cooler and wetter pattern associated with the Neo-Boreal climatic period. This
reconstruction is supported by geomorphological and palynological studies
conducted along Turkey Creek, a tributary of the Arkansas (Zier et al. 1989), as
well as by studies conducted in the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles (Hall 1982;
Lintz 1986). Taken together, these studies suggest that the cultural "transition"
between the Late Archaic and the Plains Woodland periods occurred in the
absence of significant climatic shifts, while the transition between the Plains
Woodland and Early Plains Village periods may have been accompanied by a
trend toward slightly warmer and drier conditions.
Despite the general agreement of these latter paleoclimatic reconstructions,
the understanding of economic responses to environmental change must be based
in part on the understanding of human perceptions of environmental conditions.
For example, it is likely that variation in human organizational responses is more
dependent on the degree of stochastic environmental variability than on large-

A.D. 1400
A.D. 150
Lintz (1986); Zier et al. Schuldenrein
(1987) (1985)
Wanning and
Warmer and Drying With Some
Drier Cool and Moist
Moister and Warmer and
Cooler Drier
Figure 2.3. Paleoclimate of the High Plains.

scale trends in mean environmental conditions. Unfortunately, the sorts of small-
scale changes on which human perceptions are built are frequently difficult to
reconstruct, and in any case may be highly locality dependent. Given these
limitations, the relationships between available paleoclimatic reconstructions and
diachronic patterns of human settlement and subsistence can be equivocal. For the
western High Plains it is difficult to assess the degree to which the sort of
stochastic environmental variability which is prevalent today influenced the
organization of economic activity in the past. In general, the material culture and
settlement pattern data from the study region, particularly for the Plains
Woodland period, suggest that climatic conditions at some localities in the study
region may have been more or less constant, a pattern which allowed the
prehistoric occupants of the region to recurrently utilize specific sites for specific
resource procurement activities.
The Northern Rio Grande
That portion of the study region which lies to the west of the Sangre de
Cristo Mountains is dominated by the Rio Grande Depression or Rift (Figure
2.4). This feature begins in south-central Colorado, where it is known as the San
Luis Valley, and extends into north-central New Mexico. In the vicinity of Taos,
New Mexico, the Rio Grande Depression is known as the Taos Plateau or Taos
Plain (Schilling 1960). This generally-level plain is dissected by the Rio Grande
and, on the east, by a series of permanent streams which have their headwaters in
the Taos Range. Elevation on the Taos Plateau varies between about 6,900 feet
and 8,100 feet above sea level. The plateau is also punctuated by a variety of
Tertiary volcanic features, the highest of which is Ute Peak at 10,120 feet
(Schilling 1960).
The Taos, Picuris and Truchas Ranges lie to the east of the Taos Plateau
These subdivisions of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains generally have abrupt
western margins, and range in elevation from about 8,000 feet to over 12,000
above sea level. Several large valleys or parks, including the Moreno Valley, are
located between these western ranges and the eastern slope ranges located to the
west of Cimarron, New Mexico.
Climatic Variation in the Rio Grande Valiev
As with the eastern portion of the study area, the climate of the northern
Rio Grande Valley is semiarid. Average annual precipitation varies between about
32 and 40 centimeters, with most of the rain falling in the summer months.

Ute Peak
Figure 2.4. Physiography of the Northern Rio Grande.

Precipitation in the area is largely a function of altitude and as a result rainfall is
typically higher along the mountain front and canyons on the eastern edge of the
Taos Plateau (Schilling 1960). The length of the growing season in the area,
which is also principally a function of altitude, varies between about 100 and 140
days. Like the southern High Plains, stochastic environmental variability within
the northern Rio Grande can be significant (Cordell 1979). Historic-period data
from the vicinity of Taos indicate that the length of the growing season varied
between about 120 and 180 days during the four decades from 1893 to 1930.
Similarly, average annual precipitation varied between 25 and 60 centimeters
between about 1890 and 1960 (Cordell 1979: figs. 3-b and 4-j; Cordell 1989:
Flora and Fauna Associations. Four generalized biotic associations, which
are at least superficially similar to those present east of the Sangre de Cristo
Mountains, can be defined for the northern Rio Grande. The distribution of these
associations is generally correlated with altitude, although other topographic and
pedologic factors are locally important (Cordell 1979: 6). The Taos Plateau is
dominated by a treeless shrub association which consists primarily of sagebrush.
At higher elevations, on the margins of the plateau, vegetation consists of a
pinon-juniper woodland which includes scrub oak and mountain mahogany
(Schilling 1960). Mixed conifer associations occur on the higher flanks of the
Taos and Picuris Ranges. The lower-lying conifer communities are typically
dominated by ponderosa pine; higher elevations support mixed stands of Douglas
fir and various spruce species, often associated with aspen and alpine meadow
vegetation. The riparian communities of the area consist of cottonwood and
ponderosa pine associated with willows and other phreatophitic species. The
Transition zone (Cordell 1979: 6-9), which includes the sagebrush association
located on the Taos Plateau and the adjacent pinon-juniper woodland, contains 30
edible wild plant species. By contrast, the upper montane associations contain
only 10 such species.
Fauna in the area is broadly similar to that available on the eastern slope
of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Significantly, the availability and diversity of
faunal resources in north-central New Mexico appears to be greater than
elsewhere in New Mexico (Cordell 1979).
Paleoclimate of the Northern Rio Grande
Unlike the Southern Plains, dendrochronological data have been used for
paleoclimatic reconstruction in the Rio Grande valley. Boyer (1994a) summarizes

these data, along with geomorphological and palynological information, for the
Taos district. The bulk of Boyers reconstruction is based on the tree-ring studies
conducted by Rose, Dean, and Robinson (1981) and Dean and Robinson (1977).
Boyer argues that, although the data do not provide evidence for long-term
climatic departures in the Taos district, a number of trends are apparent in the
patterns of climatic variability. Prior to about A.D. 850 climatic conditions were
relatively stable. Between A.D. 850 and A.D. 980 the amplitude of climatic
fluctuations increased. During several decades of this period precipitation
approached two standard deviations above or below the mean, a threshold
considered "significant" by Dean and Robinson (1977: 7).
Between A.D. 980 and A.D. 1370, climatic variability shifted to a low-
frequency, high-amplitude pattern. Both wet and dry episodes lasted longer than
during previous periods, and were separated by longer episodes of average
conditions. After A.D. 1370, the climate of the Taos district returned to the pre-
A.D. 850 pattern of relative stability.
A number of specific episodes stand out in this sequence. The wettest
periods occurred during the A.D. 850s, 1020s, and 1230s. The driest periods
occurred during the A.D. 1090s and 1340s. None of these departures, however,
exceeded two standard deviations above or below the mean. Significantly, the
widespread drought which appears to have occurred during the last few decades
of the 13th century throughout much of the Southwest may have been less severe
in the Rio Grande valley than elsewhere (Crown, Orcutt, and Kohler 1996).
Although it is difficult to reconcile the preceding reconstruction with
specific archaeological data, modem climatic data indicate that maize horticulture
may have been relatively risky in the Taos district (Cordell 1989). In addition,
the available dendroclimatological data for the area generally supports the notion
that climatic variability in the past was no greater than it is today. The likelihood
of environmental risk, coupled with the relative abundance of wild floral and
faunal resources in the district, probably had several consequences for the
prehistoric occupation of the area. First, the viability of Archaic economic
practices in the northern Rio Grande may have been greater than elsewhere in the
northern Southwest during the first millennium A.D., an observation which
nevertheless does little to explain why Basketmaker III and Pueblo I pithouse
villages appear to be rare in the area. Second, many of the post-A.D. 1000
occupants of the region appear to have practiced an economy which emphasized
both horticulture and hunting and gathering (see references in Cordell 1989: 299).
Patterns of Climatic Variability
It is evident from this review that environmental variability in the study

region can be measured in both temporal and spacial terms. Of particular concern
for a synchronic smdy such as this is the reconstruction of spacial variability.
Given the spacial limitations of most paleoclimatic data sets, this effort must rely
on modem climatic data (e.g. Rautman 1993). As noted above, spacial variability
on the eastern slope of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains is considerable, and is
influenced by a suite of interrelated topographic and atmospheric factors. The
productivity of particular zones is also a function of the dominant mode of
production and the effects of long-term hydrologic processes (e.g. Lintz 1986).
To the extent that productivity is a function of environmental conditions (an issue
which is amenable to empirical evaluation), the most favorable locations for
horticultural production in southeastern Colorado and northeastern New Mexico
are located along river corridors and their major tributaries (Kane 1997).
Depending on the faunal species of interest, these zones of higher horticultural
productivity may or may not correspond with zones of higher faunal productivity.
The incomplete coincidence of these zones of higher productivity enabled a
complex cultural geography in the region, and created the conditions for the
development of the semi-mobile residential pattern which characterized the
prehistory of the area.

The recognition and explanation of prehistoric interregional interaction has
been a central domain of archaeological discourse for more than a century.
Changing theoretical approaches to interaction studies have mirrored changing
anthropological and archaeological ideas about the structure and nature of culture
and society (Baugh and Ericson 1993; Blinman and Wilson 1993; Earle 1982;
Schortman and Urban 1987; Wilcox 1986). Indeed, an historical review of
approaches to the study of interaction traces the intellectual history of the
discipline itself. This chapter discusses and critiques existing models of Plains-
Pueblo interaction, and develops an alternative framework for explaining
interregional interaction among small-scale societies.
The Problem Domain
A variety of explanations have been offered for the origin and form of
Plains-Pueblo interaction. Although many of these models have been developed
specifically for the Protohistoric period (Baugh 1984; Habicht-Mauche 1987;
Spielmann 1991a; Wilcox 1991), it is clear that interaction between the Rio
Grande valley and the southern High Plains had considerable time depth (e.g,
Glassow 1980; Willey and Hughes 1978; Wood and Bair 1980). For the
communities located along the eastern slope of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains a
number of possible relationships have been proposed. Several researchers have
suggested that at least some of the post-A.D. 1000 occupants of the Park Plateau,
the Mora Valley, and the upper middle Pecos River valley were Anasazi
immigrants from the middle and northern Rio Grande (e.g. Glassow 1980;
Gunnerson 1959; Stuart and Gauthier 1981; Wendorf 1960; Wendorf and Reed
1955). Alternatively, some of the sites in this area have been attributed to the
expansion of Plains Village societies on the southern High Plains (e.g. Baugh
1994; Stuart and Gauthier 1981; Wiseman 1975). Other researchers have viewed
sites in the region as the product of indigenous development, which may have
been influenced to varying degrees by events in the Southwest or Plains. For the
Sopris phase specifically, four sorts of relationships have been proposed (Baker
1964; Wood and Bair 1980; see also Lutes 1959a). By one account the Sopris
phase community in the Trinidad district was an indigenous development.

Alternatively, it has been seen as the result of immigration from either the
northern Rio Grande or the Central or Southern High Plains. Finally, the Sopris
phase has been seen as one of the earliest manifestations of the Athapaskan
entrada (Turner 1980).
Convincing evidence has never been marshalled in support of any of these
proposed relationships. Although recent research has generally concluded that the
occupation of the region was not the product of large-scale migration (e.g.
Dorshow, Scheick and Lang 1997; Lintz 1978; Wood and Bair 1980), the social
and economic forces which shaped communities there have not been well defined.
Previous Models of Plains-Pueblo Interaction
Given the focal, if frequently unexamined, role of interaction analysis in
archaeological practice, it is not surprising that a wide spectrum of models have
been proposed to describe and explain the origins and form of long-distance
interaction networks. The following discussion highlights some of the key themes
which have animated Plains-Pueblo interaction models. These themes are in part a
reflection of more general archaeological problem domains, such as the
conceptual significance given to various "prime movers" or causal processes.
Among these, ecological conditions and the emergence of sociopolitical
complexity have been given the most weight.
Ecological Models
Ecological models focus explanatory attention on the mechanisms by
which prehistoric societies and communities were articulated into functionally
integrated adaptive systems. Ecological interaction models locate the causes of
interregional contact either in biophysical processes operative in the productive
landscape or in the technological requirements of various productive strategies.
Two sorts of ecological models have been proposed to explain Plains-Pueblo
interaction, each of which focuses on a different sort of relationship between
human communities and their natural environment.
For one set of models, resource insecurity, whether the result of a
"patchy" environment, declining productivity, or population-resource imbalances,
leads communities to form alliances which are intended to act as buffers against
local subsistence shortages (Braun and Plog 1982). Under these models, the
mitigation of risk is the primary impetus for interregional interaction (e.g. Lintz
1991; Rautman 1993). For a second set of models, differential production
strategies, and their consequent logistical demands, lead to eco-zonal commodity

specialization in the context of resource abundance (Spielmann 1991a). Under
these models, communities form interregional exchange networks in order to
expand the carrying capacities of their respective regions. The total number of
households supported by regionally-specialized production is higher than the
number which can be supported by a diversified economy because specialization
takes advantage of "economies of scale."
Models of both varieties frequently incorporate a systems perspective
which emphasizes the importance of information as well as commodity exchange,
although some also import concepmal frameworks from evolutionary ecology and
non-human socioecology (i.e. Smith and Winterhalder 1992). Further, distinctions
between these two sorts of explanations are based in part on how archaeologists
evaluate the "costs" associated with long-distance social networks, and the
conditions under which societies are likely to devote surplus to the development
of those networks.
Stress Models. The broad outlines of ecological stress models have been
widely applied in the Southwest and the Plains (e.g. Rautman 1993; Vehik 1990,
1996). Utilizing a social organization and information exchange model derived
primarily from the work of Wobst (1977), Braun and Plog (1982) argue that the
intensity of "tribal" social networks will increase in response to increasing risks
m the local productive environment. The expansion of these networks distributes
environmental risk, increases the flow of information about productive resources,
defines community parameters, and delegates decision-making authority (Braun
and Plog 1982: 507).
Among Plains-Pueblo interaction studies, Lintz (1991) argues that
interregional interaction between Antelope Creek phase peoples living in the
Texas Panhandle and the Eastern Pueblos of the Rio Grande valley intensified
after about A.D. 1350 as one element of a broad-based strategy intended to cope
with environmental deterioration on the Plains. Lintz suggests that the low-level
trade in "functionally redundant" objects and commodities which had always been
a feature of Antelope Creek economic practices intensified in response to
increasing risk. This increase in interregional contact was one way to gain access
to the productive capacity of adjacent regions.
Similarly, in his analysis of historic period Tewa exchange systems, Ford
(1972: 22) argues that exchange is an "essential feature of a regional system" and
proposes that resource "patchiness" and stochastic environmental variation
between adjacent ecosystems, provides the primary stimulus for trade. Production
failure, unequal access to important resources, or the "artificial" productive
differences which are the result of community craft specialization, provide the
backdrop for understanding both the form and content of exchange relations.

Ford, however, places special emphasis on the exchange requirements of ritual
practice, and the social and political roles which structure the form of trading
Mutualistic Models. Baugh (1984, 1991), Spielmann (1983, 1986, 1991a)
and others have developed an alternative socioecological model which places
greater emphasis on the importance of symbiotic interactions over buffering
strategies. Citing the ubiquity of inter-community interaction and
interdependence, and the difficulty of correlating specific environmental risks
with particular social responses in the past, Spielmann (1991a) focuses on the
importance of cooperative, mutually beneficial exchange mechanisms. This
emphasis highlights inter-community or intersocietal food sharing, and the
geographically discrete economic specialization which is often its consequence.
Mutualistic exchange focuses on resources for which production costs are low and
abundance and predictability are high, rather than on resources which are subject
to stochastic variability. Mutualistic interaction occurs, then, in the absence of
environmental stress. Such interdependence can be a consequence of "niche
separation" between adjacent populations utilizing divergent (eco-zonally
determined) resources or productive strategies (Bronitsky 1982). Symbiotic
interaction increases the carrying capacity of both partners, although the
opportunity for system-wide disruptions is similarly increased. As a consequence
mutualistic interaction is typically precarious, and subject to periodic collapse.
For Protohistoric-penod Plains-Pueblo interaction, Spielmann (1991a)
argues that a number of Rio Grande pueblos supplied com to Plains nomads in
exchange for bison meat and hides. This exchange took advantage of the different
resources available in the Rio Grande valley and the Southern High Plains, as
well as the different forces of production available to communities in those
Baugh (1984, 1991) takes a somewhat more political approach to Plains-
Pueblo interaction. He argues that for the Protohistoric period, interaction
between the Southern Plains and the gateway or frontier pueblos of the middle
Rio Grande valley should be understood in the context of a "Southern Plains
Macroeconomy." Baughs formulation combines world system-inspired ideas
about political and economic dependency with an ecological focus on social
stability, functional integration and local environmental adaptation. He defines
three structural positions for the societies in this system ("nuclear," "peripheral,"
and "semi-peripheral"), each of which required different sorts of economic,
social, and political adjustments. In contrast to most core-periphery models,
however, Baugh maintains that the system operated in the absence of structural
power centers, and involved social interdependency, rather than social or political

Snows (1991) analysis of inter-community seed com exchange combines
elements of both sorts of ecological models. He argues that, because growing-
season variability at elevations greater than about 6000 feet in the northern Rio
Grande valley made maize production risky (see also Cordell 1989), exchange
networks developed to supplied seed corn to part-time horticulturalists in the
region. Under conditions of environmental risk, the maintenance of maize
production would have required a reliable supply of seed corn, presumably from
sources beyond the limits of the local climatic regime. Inhabitants of higher or
more northerly locations may have exercised their proximity to productive game
ranges to trade for seed com from lower elevation regions farther to the south,
foreshadowing the specialized mutualism modeled by Spielmann.
Although they explicitly incorporate evolutionary and socioecological
frameworks, the assumptions and mechanisms which animate neoclassical trade
models are also often imbedded in ecological analyses of interregional interaction.
Central to most trade or exchange interpretations is the notion of the
"commodity," to which value might be assigned according to its functional utility,
cost of production, cost of distribution and so forth. The central interpretive
device is, therefore, the notion of "value," as well as the processes by which
value was assigned to commodities, and the ways in which that valuation might
be reconstructed in archaeological analysis. Much of this work turns on least-cost
or efficiency models (i.e. transportation cost vs. specific value [Spence 1982]).
Methodologically, economic perspectives focus on the distribution patterns
of exchanged commodities (Hodder 1974; F. Plog 1977; Renfrew 1977).
Deviations from the form of various regression equations (fall-off curves) are
interpreted as explanatory, based primarily on neoclassical economics. As a
result, commodity models tend to emphasize the forms which exchange took over
the functional significance of that exchange.
Sociopolitical Complexity Models
The ecological models discussed above effectively ignore the influence of
political or social power on exchange relationships. Sociopolitical complexity
models, on the other hand, link interregional exchange to the development and
expansion of political power (Hirth 1996; McGuire 1986; Upham 1986: 205),
whether that expansion involves the geographical concentration of economic
power in central places, or the demographic concentration of political power in
local or regional elites. The development of complex political structures is
frequently predicated on the control of surplus labor and resources. On the one
hand, exchange systems can be one mechanism by which some members of a
society generate the resources and authority necessary to establish control over

surpluses (Hirth 1996). On the other hand, local control over surplus production
can lead to the creation of long-distance exchange networks. In either case, such
models tend to emphasize the function of interregional interaction in the creation,
maintenance and expression of power.
Core-periphery models were built on a desire to transcend the emphasis
ecological models place on local adaptation, as well as on the recognition that
communities and societies are rarely bounded entities (Wolf 1982). These
approaches situate individual societies in a larger social field, and specify roles
and structural positions within that system. Rooted in the notion of structural
power (Wolf 1990), core-periphery models specify the arrangements within which
social actors are required to operate. Social action, including exchange, takes
place in the context of events or processes controlled by powerful groups or
powerful regions. The requirements of a core society (or class in the case of
political or ideological elites) structure the nature of the system and the
relationships among adjacent societies.
Prestige-goods economy models also emphasize power relationships within
and between societies. Prestige goods models generally emphasize the importance
of the circulation of exotic or symbolic objects or commodities which are
symptomatic of elite interaction. In this case, exotic or symbolic goods are traded
between emergent elites in adjacent communities and societies as a means by
which those elites signal and reinforce their higher status (Caldwell 1964; Hayden
and Schulting 1997). This trade in exotic or valuable goods creates an
"interaction sphere" that integrates elite or high-ranking members of adjacent
communities into a larger sociopolitical entity which eventually exerts its
influence over access to utilitarian resources or production.
The circulation of prestige goods is also seen as one of the mechanisms by
which world systems operate in a periphery (Pailes 1990). Local elites receive
exotic goods, esoteric knowledge, iconography and so forth from a core polity
and, in exchange, provide the core society with various products or services,
including raw materials, labor and finished goods. Local elites, therefore, depend
on their relationship with the core area to maintain their position in society.
Relatively few researchers have utilized traditional core-periphery
perspectives to analyze Plains-Pueblo interaction. The importance of regional and
interregional political processes have, however, been recognized (Snow 1981;
Wilcox 1984, 1991; see McGuire et al. 1994 for a review). Snow (see also
Wilcox 1984) argues that complex political and economic changes occurred
within and between the Rio Grande valley pueblos subsequent to the collapse of
the Casas Grandes regional system. Snow suggests that, prior to this collapse,
Plains-Pueblo interaction was primarily an open system which was geared toward
the opportunistic exchange of subsistence products. Ritual items were obtained by
the Eastern Pueblos from Mexico and Western Anasazi sources. After the

collapse of the Casas Grandes system, Plains-Pueblo interaction intensified to
include a larger volume of subsistence products as well as a variety of ritual
items. This shift was accompanied by other important changes in the economy
and society of the Eastern Pueblos, principally an increased specialization in
ceramic production and the formation of ethnically-diverse peer polities (Wilcox
Wilcox (1991) provides a somewhat more overtly political approach to
Plains-Pueblo interaction. Like Snow, Wilcox argues that, with the decline of the
Casas Grandes macroeconomy in the 14th and 15th centuries, Plains-Pueblo
interaction intensified. Wilcox (1991: 151), however, suggests that the Rio
Grande villages were organized into peer polities (Renfrew 1986), and further
that the Plains-Pueblo macroeconomy involved the incipient "hierarchical
integration" of those political units. Within this larger multi-focal core-periphery
political structure, there existed a variety of relationships which linked particular
groups together in alliances, which were in turn opposed by other similarly-
organized alliances. Wilcox views this process as fundamentally political,
consequent on the monopolistic control of raw materials, particularly turquoise
and lead. The impact of the system extended far beyond economics per se to
changes in social organization, relations of production, and ideological structures.
Critique of Previous Models
The models discussed above suffer from a variety of theoretical and
empirical problems. The first problem has to do with the way in which
archaeologists have conceptualized interregional interaction. Traditionally,
interaction studies have taken as their primary unit of analysis "cultures" or
"societies" defined in normative terms by the distribution of distinctive "traits."
These normative descriptions have had several important consequences. Because
they are based on the degree to which material culture distributions are
homogeneous, normative phase designations can conceal the variability which is
frequently a feature of interregional boundaries (Lightfoot and Martinez 1995). At
the same time, normative formulations do not generally specify the mechanisms
by which material items are distributed across the cultural landscape. Traditional
approaches to interaction have therefore tried to account for these distributions by
reference to culture historical trajectories which are themselves based on those
same distributions. Given the opportunity for tautological explanations, and the
inability of normative culture historical descriptions to recognize variability, it is
not surprising that, particularly for interactions among small-scale societies, few
explanations have been forthcoming.
The second problem is a feature of the ways in which archaeologists have

conceptualized the causes of interaction. Most researchers have implicitly based
their models on the ways in which they have evaluated the sociopolitical
complexity of the societies participating in large-scale exchange and interaction
networks. Specifically, the perceived degree of social complexity tends to divide
salient explanations for interregional interaction into two groups. Where the
network participants have been perceived as egalitarian, and socially or politically
stable, archaeologists have framed their explanations in terms of culture
ecological adaptation. These sorts of perspectives seldom make explicit reference
to the social forces which operate within or between small-scale societies.
On the other hand, where at least some of the network participants have
been perceived as complex, archaeologists have tended to highlight the
importance of social processes. For these sociopolitical complexity models, the
distribution and uses of power are an important component of explanations for the
origins and consequences of interregional interaction. As a result of this
explanatory dichotomy relatively little attention has been paid to the social causes
and consequences of interregional interaction among small-scale, egalitarian
A third set of problems has to do with the models themselves.
Specifically, two sorts of theoretical criticisms apply to ecological interaction
models. The first stems from the tension between ecological models, which trace
their paternity to the neo-functional and neo-evolutionary concern for local
adaptation, and the problem domains which they attempt to address, which trace
their paternity to the historical particularist concern for inter-societal contact.
Ecological models attempt to explain the operation of an open system by
reference to processes which were modeled for closed systems (Green and
Perlman 1985). In part the failure of this approach is due to a conflation of
exchange and interaction with stability and integration (Douglas 1995). The
explanation of interregional interaction, which is an extra-systemic process, is,
then, to be found in an expansion of the "system," and a search for new system
functions. The tension lies in the impulse to explain larger and larger systems
using tools created for the analysis of local environmental contexts. Clearly this is
not a logical defeat, but it does raise some difficult questions about the
appropriate units of analysis and the specific mechanisms by which large
subsistence exchange systems operate.
A second criticism of ecological models stems from the relationships
between the causes and consequences of interaction. Ecological models place
emphasis on the functions of a social network, but not necessarily on the ways in
which that network came into existence. This is an outgrowth of the notion that
the functioning of small-scale communities or societies is a "natural" process, an
extension of processes operative in the natural environment. Ecological models
emphasize the functional importance of inter-community contact, but often fail to

explain the mechanism, condition, or process by which it came into existence. As
Schlegel (1992: 395) has pointed out, "[e]cological explanations are not wrong,
but they are incomplete." The description of a mechanism, and the benefits which
may accrue to the participants in the system, is not identical to the reasons for
which the mechanism arose. To argue that interregional interaction increases the
carrying capacity of particular environments, or conversely limits environmental
risk, is merely to enumerate consequences that may promote system permanence.
For interactions among small-scale societies, a variety of empirical
considerations limit the applicability of sociopolitical complexity models. Because
they make explicit links between the development of interaction networks and the
appearance of complex social and political structures, the application of
sociopolitical complexity models depends on independent evidence for the
existence of structural power centers. For the period between about A.D. 900 and
A.D. 1200 in the study region no such evidence exists. Further, there is
considerable evidence to suggest that the origins and functions of large exchange
networks are frequently independent of the origins and functions of political
differentiation (e.g. Bender 1981; Hayden 1982). Therefore, in order to model
social interaction among small-scale societies, it is necessary to explicitly
decouple explanations for the origins of interaction from explanations for the
origins of political systems.
Prehistoric Frontiers
Given the criticisms outlined above, the central question posed at the
beginning of this chapter remains: what are the origins and consequences of
interregional interaction among small-scale societies? The formulation of an
alternative explanation requires two general sorts of procedures. The first task is
the construction of an analytic framework, and the second is the specification of
processes which animate that framework.
As noted above, there is an interpretive tension between the analysis of
interaction as a process, and the normative formulation of the analytic units on
which that interpretation has generally been based. This tension is in part a
function of the ways in which archaeologists have conceptualized social, political
and economic partitions on the landscape. Although normative divisions of the
social and geographical landscape are static, the partitions are themselves
relational. One way to resolve this interpretive tension is to focus attention on the
processes through which those partitions are constructed. At the same time, it is
important to reevaluate what precisely is meant by a cultural partition.
The term "frontier" specifies one sort of social relationship between
interacting societies and communities. The question as to what is meant by a

frontier, as well as how frontiers are to be recognized in the archaeological
record, is a complex issue. In fact, "the frontier" has proven to be highly flexible
construct, one which has been applied to a wide variety of dissimilar contexts.
Traditionally, frontiers have been defined as unoccupied or "marginal" zones
which have been colonized by groups from more densely-populated or more
politically-complex regions (Boyer 1994b; S. Green 1979; Lemer 1984: 76;
Lightfoot and Martinez 1995). Post-15th century Western society has, for
example, been transformed by the social and economic processes which
characterize these sorts of "Tumerian" frontiers (Thompson and Lamar 1981).
Frequently, perspectives which emphasize the colonial nature of frontiers
make a distinction between frontiers and boundaries. Drawing primarily on the
work of political geographers, Kristof (1959) contrasts frontiers with boundaries,
defining the former as the margin of the "ecumene," part of a larger entity and as
such a beginning, rather than an ending. The later is defined as an edge, or
ending, which marks a disjunction between socially or politically equivalent
entities. Kristof characterizes the distinction between the two in historical and
political terms: political processes transform frontiers into boundaries. In social
and material terms frontiers are "porous" and boundaries are "rigid" (see also
Green and Perlman 1985: 4).
Frontier studies such as these, which have their roots in the work of
historical geographers, tend to emphasize the social and economic interactions
between colonists and their society of origin (Lightfoot and Martinez 1995).
Boyer (1994b) argues that the Ancestral Puebloan occupation of the Taos district
can be viewed as the product of immigration from the middle Rio Grande. The
archaeological implications of this model focus primarily on the consequences of
colonial life. Similar models have been applied to the prehistoric record by
Lucius (1983) and Trinkaus (1984).
These approaches to "geographic frontiers" tend to minimize or ignore the
relationships between colonial societies (whether they are the product of migration
or political expansion) and local indigenous societies. An alternative definition of
the frontier, however, highlights these interactions. This second definition has
been widely discussed under the rubric of "farmer-forager" interaction,
particularly as it applies to the expansion of Neolithic populations in Europe.
Although many of these models take as their primary point of departure Turners
notion of the frontier as "the temporary boundary of an expanding society"
(Alexander 1978: 13; see also Ammerman and Cavalli-Sforza 1972), most of this
work has focused on the "cultural frontier" between Neolithic immigrants and
indigenous Mesolithic groups.
J. A. Moore (1985) uses the frontier concept to explain social
transformations between adjacent societies of mobile foragers and sedentary
farmers. Defining the frontier as a "mosaic" of communities organized according

to different logistical principles and forces of production, Moore argues that the
establishment of a farmer-forager frontier increases the costs of mobility among
hunter-gatherer populations. This increase in the cost of a mobile subsistence
strategy leads to changes in the economic and social structure of the frontier:
foragers tend to become less mobile, intersocietal subsistence exchange increases,
and sedentary populations take on social roles as conflict mediators and
"information processors." Farmer-forager relationships have also been explored
by Dennell (1985), Spielmann and Eder (1994), and others.
Under this definition, a cultural or interregional frontier constitutes a set
of social relationships which structure interaction between otherwise distinct
social entities. This emphasis on frontiers as social constructs shifts attention
away from the content of "closed" cultural systems to the relationships between
those systems. An interregional frontier is a relational construct which structures
interactions between traditionally-defined household and community groups.
These relationships cross-cut established intra-societal social networks (Lightfoot
and Martinez 1995). The notion of social difference is, therefore, subsumed by
the frontier (Barth 1969). The construction, maintenance and transgression of that
social difference is an interactive process, carried out between social groups of
varying size which ascribe to themselves distinct social identities (see also
Schortman 1989). Indeed, the social construction of difference is critical to the
recognition and explanation of interaction.
This definition raises several important issues. First, frontiers are
fundamentally paradoxical (Alvarez 1995) because they involve interaction which
is defined in the context of difference. Frontiers exist as a consequence of both
interaction and social distance, the result of which can be both "creolization" and
resistance (Lightfoot and Martinez 1995). While frontiers emphasize the
significance of interregional connections by breaking down the notion that
societies or communities are autonomous entities (Green and Perlman 1985; Wolf
1982), they also emphasize the ways in which social groups negotiate their
Second, frontier mechanisms are fundamentally historical processes. They
have social consequences, which range from integration or merger, and the
dissolution of the frontier, to "creolization" (Albers 1993; Lightfoot and Martinez
1995), and the construction of new social formations.
Recognition of Archaeological Frontiers
Given this definition, what should prehistoric interregional frontiers look
like? Perhaps as a consequence of normative culture historical expectations,
archaeologists have typically conceptualized interregional frontiers as clear,

identifiable breaks on the cultural landscape. Despite considerable effort (e.g.
contributors to De Atley and Findlow 1984; Kimes, Haselgrove and Hodder
1981; Kowalewski et al. 1983; McGuire et al. 1994; Neitzel 1994), however, the
expectation that regions will be highly bounded has seldom been met. Rather, the
definition of interregional frontiers developed above suggests that they will be
characterized by a high degree of social organizational variability. That variability
is a consequence of the processes of social negotiation which characterize frontier
communities. On this account frontiers are the product of both boundary
establishment and transgression, the consequences of which are complex material
culture distributions.
If frontiers coalesce around, and are ultimately recognized by, differences
which can be taken to indicate social boundedness, how are the construction and
transgression of such boundaries to be recognized in the archaeological record?
One of the most commonly used proxy measures has been material culture style.
Traditional approaches to style view the decorative aspects (as distinct from the
functional aspects) of material culture to be a reflection of social and cultural
configurations (e.g. Hill 1970). In this sense "adjunct style" (Sackett 1982) has a
passive correspondence to systemic cultural processes. Sackett (1982) also defines
the related notion of "isochrestic style" which refers to the ubiquitous,
unconscious choices made by artisans at particular times and places. However,
much of this work failed to account for the ways in which style functioned in the
past, an issue which has been addressed by Wobst (1977). In Wobsts
formulation, style is a medium through which information is communicated about
social identity (see also S. Plog 1980b). This communication is active in the sense
that both artisans and consumers of material culture choose particular styles to
signal, in an overt way, their membership in a particular group.
More recent research has broadened this discussion and in the process
accorded to style a much more active role. Stylistic (Wiessner 1990) or symbolic
(S. Plog 1990) variation does more than simply mirror unconscious choices or
signal affiliations. Symbolic style is an active element in the construction of social
identity. Hodders (1990) definition of style as the referral of an event to a
general way of doing implies that symbolic style involves active interpretation of
decorative elements by the participants in a social interaction. Style is therefore a
medium through which social identities are negotiated in practice. Style is more
than an indicator of cultural process; rather it is a cultural process. Categories of
social identity are marked by, and manipulated through, the distribution of
emblematic styles (e.g. Hodder 1979; McLaughlin 1987).
A number of authors have suggested, however, that this basic formulation
is probably overly simplistic. Dietler and Herbich (1994) argue, for example, that
ceramic style can cross-cut social boundaries and that a one-to-one
correspondence between stylistic distributions and ethnic distributions may not be

warranted. Wiessner (1990) argues that there need be no monolithic "theory of
style" in which all decorative elements play dynamic social roles. To these
criticisms can be added a number of insights from frontier perspectives. Hodder
(1979) and others have suggested that emblematic styles will be most prominently
displayed under conditions of ecological or social stress. The realignment or
"creolization" of frontier societies which has been briefly described above
suggests that emblematic styles can be used to signal social solidarity as well as
social differentiation, and that this process need not have a direct relationship to
social stress. Clearly the factors which promote or discourage social boundedness
are complex, and are rooted in political economic as well as social conditions.
As a consequence, the archaeological identification and interpretation of
material culture diacritics (McGuire 1982; Schortman and Urban 1987: 64) is
methodologically complex (Cordell and Yannie 1991). Barth (1969), for example,
argues that there is no simple set of relationships between economic organization,
social diacritics, and social identity. Frontier studies which rely solely on material
culture distributions are likely to be uninformative at best and little more than
tautological at worst. If social identity cannot be reduced to specific stylistic
traits, it is nevertheless the case that group identities are in part a function of the
ways in which social differences are either emphasized or minimized. That
material culture diacritics can function as tools of social negotiation is evident, at
least in some cases. At issue is the way in which archaeologists recognize those
tools. Frontier approaches which place material culture distributions into a social
and economic context (e.g. the social meanings of those distributions) provide
one important framework through which the relationships between social identity
and social interaction, and the conditions under which that interaction can have
dynamic cultural consequences, can be understood.
Households and Communities
Because the frontier is a social construct, frontier research should focus on
the articulation of socially-constructed units of analysis. In the past, interregional
interaction studies have generally taken as their primary unit of analysis a
network of interacting societies (Schortman and Urban 1992). Among small-scale
societies, where independent evidence for the sorts of processes which structure
and integrate a region in political terms is typically lacking, this unit of analysis
can lead to the methodological problems outlined above. The discussion which
follows focuses on the analytical significance of the household and the
Small-scale societies are characterized by the structural importance of
community processes. Social identity, or the social personae (McGuire 1983), can

be framed in terms of nested social configurations, which include the household,
the corporate group, the community and so forth. Interaction, at whatever scale,
subsumes a variety of processes which operate between these nested social
entities. A theory of frontier interaction which is based in part on social identity
mechanisms needs, therefore, to be able to analytically integrate smaller units
with larger units and specify some of the ways in which these relationships
influence pan-regional material culture distributions. In archaeological terms,
some of these units have higher visibility than others. The household and the
community are two analytical constructs which have identifiable archaeological
Households are the basic reproductive unit of the community. Among
small-scale societies, households are typically configured in terms of kinship
relationships, although the precise nature of those relationships can be highly
variable. Regardless of the specific personnel which make up a household unit, it
is through the biological and social reproduction of that unit that the community
derives its social substance. These reproductive processes include the raising of
children, the transmission of technical knowledge, the organization of production
(Wolf 1982), the allocation of surplus, and the organization of ceremony and
ritual (e.g. Brown 1997). The frontier model developed here also suggests that
construction of inter-community exchange relationships is an important household
activity. In any case, the household is the primary structure through which small-
scale communities reproduce the labor, social relationships, and cosmological
order necessary for their continued existence as coherent entities. At the same
time, it is this coherence which insures the biological survival of the communitys
Larger social structures, including the community, can also be defined in
spatial, economic, and social terms. A community is an integrated set of
households which possesses higher-order decision-making capabilities (e.g. Adler
1992). This function includes the negotiation of resource access rights, including
land tenure, and the arbitration of various sorts of conflicts. Further, although it
has typically been recognized by archaeologists in spatial terms, "[t]he
community is not just a territorial entity, but an active social theater" (Adler
1992: 2; see also Adler 1989; Adler and Wilshusen 1990).
Schortman and Urbans (1987: 64) discussion of social identity can be
used to enlarge Adlers notion of the "social theater." Their definition of a
community highlights the importance of a common historical consciousness,
whether real or figurative; a common set of assumptions about behavioral norms
and status roles; a common set of verbal and non-verbal expressions through
which information about status is communicated; and the use (and acceptance) of
status as a determinant of social behavior. Central to the archaeological
recognition of community processes is the systemic (sensu Schiffer) use of "social

diacritics," or physical markers of membership, to display and negotiate status
within community contexts (Barth 1969). Communities can also be defined, in
both archaeological and systemic terms, by the presence of internal or adjacent
"integrative architecture" (Adler 1989; Adler and Wilshusen 1990; Hegmon 1989;
Wilshusen 1991). Integrative architecture is "a structure or prepared space
socially acknowledged as a context for [the] integration of individuals above the
family level" (Adler 1989: 35). Whether these facilities serve primarily ritual,
social, or economic functions, they provide a "stage" on which the "social
theater" of the community can be played out.
This definition of the community emphasizes its social functions. Although
archaeologists commonly recognize prehistoric communities in spatial and
architectural terms (clearly subject to operational difficulties), the community is
itself an organizational, and therefore a social, entity. It is also important to
recognize that, though defined in social, indeed interpersonal terms, the
community is nevertheless not an "organic" entity in Spencerian terms.
Schortman and Urban (1987: 64; see also Lightfoot and Martinez 1995) note that
the community should be viewed as "plural." Though it may encompass the
social machinery for mediation and resolution, the community also contains the
possibility for conflict, resistance and change. A community is therefore a
structure as well as a process. It is within this organizational and processual
context that inter-community interaction should be understood.
The archaeological reconstruction of the household or the community is
not without methodological pitfalls, however. Clearly, the danger of substituting
the household or the community for a larger unit of analysis lies in the possibility
of returning to closed-system models. Both theoretical and empirical
considerations suggest that the development and operation of geographically-
extended social and economic networks have frequently influenced "local"
cultural developments. On the other hand, Upham, Crown and S. Plog (1994)
argue that the conflation of settlement patterns with regional interaction has had
important, and perhaps misleading, consequences for the reconstruction of
southwestern prehistory. If interaction is sufficiently widespread, then the
resulting regional patterns might imply the operation of supra-community levels
of organization; but this may only be epiphenomenal because the origins of those
regional patterns lie within each community. By beginning with the household
and the community, both regional and interregional interaction can be assembled
rather than assumed, for example by an examination of "strong" and "weak"
patterns (F. Plog 1983, 1984; Tainter and F. Plog 1994).

Inequality and Hierarchy in Small-Scale Societies
Given a definition of the frontier as interaction which cross-cuts
traditionally-defined social boundaries, specific processes of frontier interaction
need to be modeled with a theory of social action which systematically links
appropriate micro-scale intra-community processes to macro-scale interregional
networks. The appropriateness of those links is a function of the social
organizational structure of participating communities and societies.
The definition developed above implies that communities contain processes
of cooperation as well as conflict. Although small-scale societies are typically
defined as those in which status is a function of age, sex, and personal qualities,
recent research (e.g. Flanagan 1989; McGuire 1983; Paynter 1989; contributors
to Price and Feinman 1995) has demonstrated that such egalitarian formations are
nevertheless characterized by the existence of unequal and heterogeneous social
roles. Speth (1990; see also Diamond 1993) demonstrates that inequities are likely
to exist even in the outcome of the sorts of food sharing practices which have
traditionally been associated with egalitarian social formations.
This research has specific consequences for the frontier interaction model
developed here. The disaggregation of power and labor relationships (Saitta 1994,
1997; see also Feinman and Neitzel 1984; Saitta and Keene 1990) provides one
important avenue for exploring the social processes which integrate communities,
as well as the social causes of change. Saitta proposes that, within the context of
a communal appropriation of social surplus, subsumed classes operate to provide
political, economic and ritual leadership. Although these groups or individuals do
not direct the appropriation of surplus, they nevertheless provide specialized
services necessary for the reproduction of the community, services which entail
the existence of heterogeneous or unequal social roles. In contrast to ecological
models of interregional interaction, which focus on the causal significance of
biophysical processes, the explicit recognition of social inequality in small-scale
societies opens social mechanisms of change and stability to archaeological
Theories of Social Action
Ultimately inter-community interaction is a social process. The causes,
therefore, of interregional interaction networks must inevitably be social causes,
in both their proximate and ultimate dimensions. This framework does not deny a
role for ecological benefit, or for economic maximization, but it does emphasize
that benefits accrue to and are evaluated by social actors, whether they are
individuals, households, or corporate groups (see Godelier 1978 for a related

argument). Having specified an analytical framework for interregional interaction
studies, what sorts of economic and social processes might operate along
interregional frontiers? This question has two components: What are the origins
of interregional interaction, and what are its consequences? The preceding
discussion suggests that the answer to these questions will be a function, in pan,
of social identity structures both within and between participating communities
(see also Schortman 1989).
An analysis of intra-community dynamics is critical to an understanding of
the origins of inter-community contact. The social relations of production
characteristic of small-scale societies, and the requirements for the reproduction
of the household and the community, as they are played out in terms of the social
personae, are one causal nexus of interregional interaction. Processes which
define intra-community relationships will also guide interaction with other
communities; in the absence of regional power, the interactions between
communities will be an extension of interactions between community members
(households or individuals). Interaction will be tied to the processes of conflict
and integration which operate within communities; these are fundamentally the
processes which reproduce, in both biological and structural terms, the
community (Meillassoux 1972).
At the same time, the reproduction of the community is a function of
social, political and economic similarities and differences with other communities
(Bender 1981). Those similarities and differences constitute the context in which
the productive capacity of the community is deployed (Albers 1993). Both within-
and between-community relationships are therefore important determinants of
interregional interaction.
Within-community processes include both competitive and cooperative
relationships. Individuals and households compete for access to communal labor
and resources, and cooperate in ritual activities, production, and the allocation of
surplus. Between-community processes include relationships of symbiosis or
complementarity, cooperation or merger, and conflict (Albers 1993; Bender 1981,
1985a, 1985b).
Origins of the System
The enlargement of the social universe through exchange networks is
critical to both the biological and structural reproduction of small-scale
communities. Bender (1981, 1985a, 1985b) argues that all societies require
various sorts of inputs, including ritual items, personnel, subsistence products,
labor and so forth. The exchange of material and marital resources is a
consequence of the closure of breeding networks which is itself a product of the

emergence of group identities. In turn, the establishment of an interaction
network has consequences for the internal structure of the community. Exchange
makes demands on the productive capacity of society; communities must increase
per capita production in order to satisfy these demands. This might involve both
productivity increases, as well as increased production, although the former tends
to increase the need for the latter because increased productivity gives producers
more time to engage in interaction and the formation of social obligations. This
processsocial closure, alliance formation, and increased productionis a process
of social intensification, which ultimately has consequences for the ways in which
communities are organized.
Albers (1993) expands on this notion by noting that the interdependence
between communities can take on a variety of forms. She argues that various
sorts of interactions, including conflict, cooperation, and symbiosis, are a
consequence of the way in which labor and resources are deployed on the cultural
landscape. Various types of interactions are "constituted in and constitutive of the
social relations of production" (Albers 1993: 97). There is, however, no simple
set of relationships between social group boundaries and the types of interaction
which will characterize a particular relationship. Communities which share
particular social identities may engage in competitive interaction, while
communities with divergent identities may engage in complementary (symbiotic)
or cooperative (merger) relationships. The origins, then, of interaction can be
located in the structural positions various groups occupy in relation to the
resources which reproduce the community.
Consequences of the System
As discussed above, the consequences of an interaction network are not
identical to its causes. The consequences are a product of the obligations which
gift-giving and exchange creates. The operation of reciprocal obligation networks,
and the expectation of delayed return, is one determinant of both social stability
and social change (Foster 1978). The transformation of frontier societies is in part
the product of the new relationships which these obligations create. These
relationships include the adoption of foreigners, the creation of fictive kinship
structures with exchange partners, as well as intermarriage. These new
relationships have affective consequences for participating societies because they
continue the process of social intensification.
Regardless of what motivates alliances (or conflicts) between communities,
the operation of that interaction is mediated by social identity (Schortman 1989).
In a figurative sense the "language" of interaction is the social personae. Because
the meaning of that language is determined by within- as well as between-group

relationships, social transformation along a frontier is the product of multiple
social processes.
The Sopris Phase As A Frontier Society
At least for heuristic purposes, Sopris phase sites in the Trinidad district
can be viewed as a community of dispersed households (see Chapters 5 and 8 for
a fuller discussion of this issue). A frontier perspective proposes that the
biological and social reproduction of Sopris households was in part a function of
interactions with households in adjacent communities. The directionality of the
network was determined by the ways in which resources and labor were deployed
on the 11th century landscape Therefore, the origins of the Sopris phase
interaction network were rooted in the reproductive requirements of Sopris phase
households, as well as the requirements of households in adjacent communities.
As noted above, interregional interaction can take on a variety of forms.
The origins of Sopris phase-Valdez phase interaction were based on the
complementary, symbiotic, exchange of various items necessary for the
reproduction of individual households, and by extension the communities which
were built on those households. Given the distances between these communities,
and the demonstrable lack of subsistence stress, the content of the network likely
included ritual items, seed com, shells, turquoise and so forth. Intensification of
this network involved the creation of both affinal and fictive kin relationships
between Sopris phase households and Valdez phase households.
It is in the consequences of this interaction that frontier processes are most
visible. Along an interregional frontier individual households are engaged in a
complex set of negotiations with households in adjacent communities. These help
determine access to resources (land and labor), technology, reproductive
resources, ritual items and so forth. Much of this negotiation is undertaken with
groups having distinct community social identities. Some households will seek to
minimize differences with their interaction partners while others, in an effort to
maintain traditional social arrangements, will seek to maximize those differences.
These responses to interaction are conditioned by intra-household, as well as
inter-household, dynamics. They are also a function of cooperative as well as
competitive impulses: households in small-scale societies allocate the distribution
of surplus communally, even as they form alliances and compete for certain
resources and status. For the Sopris phase, the initiation of an interaction network
with the Valdez phase began a process of "creolization," in which many, although
not all, households chose to minimize their differences with their Valdez phase
trading partners.

Archaeological Implications
How might this general model be evaluated? While recognizing the
equifinality of "test implications," it is important to lay out some of the possible
consequences of this model in order to evaluate its explanatory power for specific
archaeological data from the Trinidad district.
As Bender (1981) has argued, the initiation of alliance networks
precipitates a process of social intensification. Evidence for increased productivity
as well as increased production should therefore correlate with the development
of the network. Because intensification is an iterative process, environmental
conditions must be amenable to either increases in productivity or increases in
production. Either of these processes are as dependent on the forces and relations
of production as they are on the availability of particular resources, however. At
the same time, environmental variability (in both spatial and temporal terms)
creates the conditions for interdependence, regardless of the specific form that
that interdependence takes.
Within the broad constraints imposed by particular environmental
conditions, the content of an exchange network will be a function of household
requirements. Given that exchanged items will be transported by human labor,
exchange over long distances would probably not have included subsistence
products (Lightfoot 1979), although certainly other items, such as seed corn,
ceramic slips, ritual items, obsidian, turquoise, and pigments could have been
transported considerable distances, particularly in the context of a semisedentary
The processes which motivate and determine participation in particular
forms of interregional interaction are likely to be community specific, rather than
universal. The directionality, intensity, and variability of community interaction
must be explained in the context of community dynamics, as well as in the
context of network dynamics, the latter of which are primarily a consequence of
the former. Households in adjacent communities are therefore likely to participate
in the network unequally in the sense that, although each will accrue benefit from
the interaction, those benefits are unlikely to be identical, and are unlikely to be
valued by a measure which is a function of the network. Given that only a
portion of the exchanged material survives in the archaeological record, the
intensity of the interaction will not appear to be equal at each node in the
Frontier interaction among small-scale societies will occur primarily
between households. Frontier communities will be heterogeneous because
individual households will develop different exchange relationships with different
exchange partners. As a result, frontier interaction will be multi-directional. Also,
resistance to social realignment means that some households will activate

exchange and interaction relationships which cross-cut the relationships developed
by their community neighbors, and will therefore seek to maximize social
differences between themselves and their neighbors. This will be reflected in the
presence of exchanged material from a variety of sources.
Further, different mechanisms will govern the exchange of different
classes of items. In the context of changing social identities, some items will
function as social diacritics, while others will not. As a result, interaction
networks will be multi-layered, with different directionalities and intensities
associated with the exchange of different classes of material culture
In contrast with prestige-goods exchange systems, the frontier interaction
model proposes that the visible markers of interaction may not constitute the
"content" of the interaction, per se. Rather, the material and stylistic evidence of
interaction should be seen as symptomatic of the social relationships on which
that interaction is built. At the same time, visible markers are a part of the social
relationship itself because it is through their active agency that the relationship is
signified and negotiated. As a result, the diacritics by which interaction is
measured will not be correlated with status per se, but rather will be widely
distributed throughout the community. The high visibility of exchanged items also
reinforces the notion that they served as social diacritics. On the other hand, there
will be material differences between households which reflect resistance to new
social relationships.
In keeping with the notion that items exchanged across a cultural frontier
are not indicators of unequal status roles, it is also reasonable to assume that they
will constitute a large proportion of the household assemblage. Regular,
consistent contact between regions will mean that the stock of exchanged
materials will be regularly replaced. The regularization of exchange relationships
also implies that exchanged items will not be highly curated.
Finally, the process of frontier creolization is a total social phenomenon in
the sense that it involves an interactive set of social, cultural and economic
changes. Not only will imported items signify the links between communities;
those links will be reinforced by proxemics, economics, and so forth. Stylistic
emulation will also be important. The desire of the community of interest to
promote a social alignment between themselves and a larger social network will
encourage the reconstruction of observed social, economic, and material

The ways in which archaeological regions have been defined are intimately
linked to the ways in which archaeological research has been conducted, as well
as to the models which have been used to interpret archaeological data.
Traditional definitions of archaeological regions, which focus on the limits of
homogeneous material culture distributions, necessarily entail the construction of
boundaries, boundaries which must then be explained (Duke 1997; McGuire et al.
1994). The organization of archaeological data has implications for the ways in
which archaeologists view contact between regions. The lack of a common
archaeological language for discussing the culture histories of the Southwest and
the Plains confounds attempts to explain empirically demonstrable interaction
between these regions, and deemphasizes the notion that contact across the Sangre
de Cristo Mountains was an important part of the prehistory of the area. On the
other hand, the existence of a common descriptive language encodes information
about the ways in which material culture distributions come into existence, and
emphasizes the "naturalness" of regional continuity. Ultimately, the development
of an explanatory framework and the construction of a descriptive language are
not independent operations. The specification of a "regional archaeological
context" will, therefore, have implications for the understanding of particular
archaeological questions. In particular, normative culture historical units have the
potential to obscure variability, variability which is a defining characteristic of
interregional interaction.
High Plains Culture History
Although southeastern Colorado and northeastern New Mexico have been
inhabited since the early Holocene, the most intensive occupation occurred
between about A.D. 200 and A.D. 1400. Two basic schemes have been
developed to describe regional culture historical sequences (Figure 4.1).
Depending on the kinds of archaeological questions under consideration, each of
these systems has specific strengths and weaknesses. The "Ceramic Period"
system developed by Wood (1967), and extended by Eighmy (1984) and
Gunnerson (1987) tends to emphasize the differences between cultural
developments in eastern Colorado and New Mexico, and developments on the

Eighmy (1984) Gunnerson (1987) Campbell (1969) Withers (1954) Glassow (1980)
A.D. 1400
1300 Early Plains
1250 Middle Village Cimarron
1200 Ceramic Period Phase
1150 Period (Apishapa Ponil
1100 Phase) Phase
1000 Escritores
950 Phase
850 Terminal
800 Plains Woodland Pedregoso
750 Phase
600 Early Graneros
550 Ceramic Focus Vermejo
500 Period Phase
350 Archaic-
300 to-Woodland
250 Transition Archaic
A.D. 150 Late Archaic Late Archaic
Figure 4.1. High Plains Cultural Systematics.

Southern and Central High Plains. Conversely, the "Plains Woodland-Plains
Village" system applied by Withers (1954), and extended by Butler (1988),
Campbell (1969), and Lintz (1986), emphasizes connections between those
regions (see also Anderson 1989a; Dorshow, Scheick and Lang 1997). Indeed,
much of what is known about the settlement and subsistence patterns of this
period has been extrapolated from archaeological phases and foci located to the
east of the current study area (Baugh 1994; Hofman and Brooks 1988; Gunnerson
1987; Wedel 1986). Whether these extensions are appropriate is an open
question. Keeping in mind the potential interpretive significance of particular
taxonomic schemes, the following discussion utilizes the Plains Woodland-Plains
Village system.
The Plains Woodland Period: A.D. 200-A.D. 900/1000
The Plains Woodland period has generally been equated with the
appearance for the first time on the western High Plains of ceramic vessels, and
in particular the cord-roughened or cord-impressed conoidal vessels associated
with Middle Woodland peoples living east of the Missouri River. Plains
Woodland sites in southeastern Colorado also typically contain evidence for the
first use of the bow and arrow, in the form of small stemmed or comer-notched
projectile points (Gunnerson 1987: 41). In addition to these technological
changes, incipient small-scale horticulture and the construction of circular or oval
stone enclosures have also been used to differentiate this period from the
preceding Late Archaic period (Anderson 1989a: 19). Beyond the appearance of
these "traits," however, the economic activities and settlement patterns of Plains
Woodland peoples in southeastern Colorado do not appear to have differed
substantially from those of their Archaic predecessors. Late Archaic and early
Plains Woodland economic strategies focused on the collection of wild plants,
particularly chenopodium (Gleichman 1992), and the hunting of small- to
medium-sized mammals (e.g. Hand and Jepson 1996; Zier and Kalasz 1991).
Although some semi-permanent structures were constructed beginning in the 3rd
century (Dorshow, Scheick and Lang 1997), in most of the region a semi-
nomadic or semi-sedentary organization appears to have characterized much of
the Plains Woodland period (e.g. Andrefsky 1990)
The slow transition from Late Archaic to Plains Woodland artifact
assemblages (e.g. Dorshow 1995b) argues for a gradual in situ development of
Plains Woodland economic activities and settlement patterns. In any case, the
relative dearth of ceramic artifacts from the first half of the Christian era, despite
the widespread occurrence of Plains Woodland period sites, coupled with the use
during much of this period of both the atlatl and the bow and arrow, has blurred

the distinctions between Late Archaic and Plains Woodland sites (Eighmy 1994:
227). At the same time, there is reason to question whether the hallmarks of the
Plains Woodland period, primarily the construction of masonry habitation
structures, the use of ceramic vessels, and the shift to a horticultural economy,
were integrated in any substantive way into the lives of Plains Woodland peoples.
Indeed, it is likely that the beginning of the Plains Woodland period in
southeastern Colorado, as it has traditionally been defined, was a purely
technological phenomenon, unaccompanied by substantive social orgamzational
changes (Zier et al. 1989; see also Michlovic 1986).
Graneros Focus. Plains Woodland sites which post-date the 5th century in
the region have typically been assigned to the Graneros focus, which was defined
by Withers (1954) and Hunt (1975) on the basis of excavations conducted at the
Belwood site (5PE278 or Z: 1:11) (Figure 4.2). At this site two structures were
excavated. One, an oval, horizontally-laid stone slab enclosure which included
eight posts (calibrated date: A.D. 600; 1-sigma A.D. 539-633; 2-sigma A.D.
430-658; 1500+50 B.P. [Bretemitz 1969: 118; Hunt 1975]) has generally been
taken as the modal Plains Woodland structure in southeastern Colorado and
northeastern New Mexico. A second excavated structure, which is seldom
discussed, consisted of a shallow pithouse defined by six posts and an east-facing
antechamber. Storage facilities included a large bell-shaped cist. Over 100 cord-
roughened sherds were recovered, most of them from the stone structure. Both
small (Scallom-like) and large corner-notched projectile points were recovered. A
few bone artifacts, freshwater mussel shell fragments, and a variety of ground
stone artifacts also were documented. Although a relatively small faunal
assemblage was recovered, the most important species appear to have been small
mammals. Little or no bison remains, and no horticultural products or tools, were
In his analysis of the Plains Woodland period in eastern Colorado, Butler
(1988) notes that, in addition to stone slab architecture, sites of this period
frequently contain a very generalized tool kit, cord-roughened pottery with
straight or slightly curving rims, small to medium diagonally comer-notched
projectile points, and expanding base drills. This period may also have been
characterized by an increased reliance on limited maize horticulture. Interestingly,
Butlers analysis of chipped stone artifact assemblages from contemporaneous
sites in northeastern Colorado suggests that Plains Woodland tool kits were
significantly more generalized than Late Archaic tool kits. Further, Andersons
(1976) analysis of stone tool assemblages from three Plains Woodland sites
indicates that there are no functional differences between sites which contain
stone architecture and those which do not.

House 1
House 2
Figure 4.2. The Belwood Site.

Sites with one or two Graneros-like stone enclosures, occasionally
associated with storage features, have been documented throughout southeastern
Colorado and northeastern New Mexico (e.g. Baker 1964; Kalasz 1989; Nowak
and Kantner 1990; Winter 1988). In the Ancho Canyon study area on the
southern Park Plateau, for example, Dorshow, Scheick and Lang (1997) report on
a number of such structures which date to the 8th century. Similarly, the Vermejo
phase type site (Figure 4.3) in the Cimarron district (Glassow 1980) fits
comfortably into this architectural pattern. Although this site, which Glassow
(1980: 70-72) dates to the period between A.D. 400 and A.D. 700, has been
compared to Early Basketmaker (BMII) sites in the northern Southwest, the two
excavated structures assigned to the Vermejo phase consist of circular,
horizontally-laid stone masonry enclosures, in one case with upright roof support
posts. Associated projectile points are generally very small corner-notched
varieties. Vermejo phase sites are generally located away from the canyon floors
of the plateau. Two radiocarbon dates are available for the phase: 146050 B.P.
(calibrated: A.D. 620; 1-sigma: 561-652; 2-sigma: 537-666), and 855+55 B.P.,
the latter of which has been rejected as too recent (Glassow 1980: 72). In contrast
to sites from southeastern Colorado, Vermejo phase sites do not contain ceramics.
In addition, clear evidence for maize horticulture was present at one Vermejo
phase site (Kirkpatrick and Ford 1977).
Post-A.D. 750 Developments. After about A.D. 750 many of the
technological changes which had taken place during the previous five centuries
began to coalesce into a new organizational pattern. Architecture appears to have
been more widespread and more important. Maize remains are somewhat more
widespread, although horticultural production may have been limited to a
relatively few localities. Ceramic vessels were probably produced in some
portions of the region during this period (e.g. Glassow 1980: 72-73), although
most sites contain only a few sherds (Campbell 1969), and only a few sites
contain even a moderate number of sherds. Even if produced locally, ceramic
vessels can appropriately be considered "exotic" items, at least until the Early
Plains Village period. Much of the chipped stone tool assemblage remained
unchanged from Graneros focus assemblages. The period was characterized by a
heterogeneous projectile point assemblage which, although dominated by
Scallom-like corner notched forms, also included unnotched (Fresno,
Chaquaqua), and side-notched (Washita) arrow points as well as comer-notched
dart points (Ellis).
Sites which date to the period between A.D. 750 and A.D. 900 are
widespread throughout southeastern Colorado and northeastern New Mexico.
Sites from this period frequently contain more than one stone enclosure.

Figure 4.3. Vermejo Phase Site.

Construction techniques included the use of vertically-placed stone slabs,
foreshadowing the frequent use of that style during the succeeding Apishapa
phase. Many terminal Plains Woodland sites also contain "barrier walls," which
have been interpreted as defensive in nature. Despite these modest changes,
terminal Plains Woodland settlement patterns, faunal assemblages, storage
facilities, and macrobotanical data suggest that a semi-sedentary residential
pattern and a "geographically-extended" economic strategy were still important.
The Early Plains Village Period: A.D. 900/1000-A.D. 1400
At the close of the first millennia a variety of economic and social trends
began to coalesce and intensify. Horticultural production appears to have become
more widespread, and a larger component of the subsistence economy, although a
variety of diverse economic systems appeared at this time. Residential settlements
increased in size, and perhaps in degree of permanence. The incipient
technological transitions of the Plains Woodland period were consummated: the
bow largely replaced the atlatl in hunting tool kits, and pottery use and
production became more widespread. Although it is difficult to evaluate the
adequacy of survey data, given the differential visibility of stone architecture, it
appears that after about A.D. 1000 the general population increase which had
begun during the Plains Woodland period continued. Finally, interregional
interaction and contact, which had been extensive if not intensive during the
Plains Woodland period, became, in some cases, a significant economic activity.
Whether those contacts became possible as a result of the internal changes which
had taken place, or whether they contributed to the consolidation and stabilization
of pre-existing economic strategies and social relationships, is an important
unanswered question. In either case, the economic and social importance of
interregional contact appears to have increased after A.D. 1000. In several cases,
the understanding of long-distance exchange is critical for understanding culture
processes in, and the culture historical record of, southeastern Colorado and
northeastern New Mexico.
Plains Village Tradition. At the beginning of the second millennium A.D.
the social and economic conditions which had been in place on the High Plains
since about A.D. 750 began to consolidate into what has been termed the "Plains
Village Tradition." On the Central and Southern Plains, this distinct pattern was
characterized by a "dual" economy, in which both hunting and horticulture were
important activities; small semi-permanent hamlets and villages located adjacent
to major flood plains; the construction of semi-subterranean earth lodges;

extensive storage technology; and a material culture assemblage which included
cord-roughened and tool-impressed pottery, a variety of small triangular projectile
points, distinctive chipped end scrapers, bone and wood agricultural tools, and a
wide variety of manufactured bone tools (Brooks 1988; Gunnerson 1987; Lintz
1986: 23-24).
On the Southern Plains the Plains Village pattern began by about A.D.
850 or 900 with the Custer phase in western Oklahoma, and by A.D. 1200 or
1250 was well established across much of the Plains (Brooks 1988). The economy
of Plains Village communities emphasized bison hunting, supplemented by the
hunting of small- and medium-sized animals, fishing, garden horticulture, and
wild plant collection. The cultivation of maize and beans is well documented
throughout the region, although cucurbits and tobacco were also grown (Brooks
1988). Settlement patterns were complex. Most habitation sites consisted of small
hamlets or villages ranging in size from 0.5 to four acres, which were frequently
clustered to form a "scattered, rural community" (Brooks 1988: 6-2).
Occasionally larger sites may have served as central places, which were
surrounded by smaller sites. Single structure homesteads, field houses and
hunting camps have also been recorded (Lintz 1986). Many, although not all, of
these sites appear to have been inhabited more or less continuously over extended
periods of time. Numerous storage features and extramural activity areas occur at
most sites. Evidence for mounds, earthworks or communal architecture is
equivocal at many Plains Village sites (see for example Lintz 1986b). The success
of this flexible organizational and adaptive pattern allowed for a diversification
and expansion of Plains societies after about A.D. 1200.
Two Early Plains Village period phases located to the east of the current
study area have been linked to cultural developments in eastern Colorado.
Northeast of the study area, in northern Kansas, the Upper Republican phase
developed along the main stem and tributaries of the Republican River. In the
Texas and Oklahoma panhandles the Antelope Creek phase developed along the
Canadian River. Although some early researchers (Olson, Withers, and Ireland
1968) emphasized the connections between Upper Republican developments and
local phases in southeastern Colorado, most recent work has indicated that the
most important eastern connections were with Antelope Creek communities.
Most researchers place the beginning of the Early Plains Village period in
southeastern Colorado and northeastern New Mexico between A.D. 900 and A.D.
1050. In the central portion of the study region, Campbell dates the appearance of
what he terms "Early Panhandle Materials," or the Apishapa Phase, at about
A.D. 1000. Eighmy (1984) and Gunnerson (1987) generally agree that the
beginning of the second millennium marks a transition in the region, although
clearly the regional synchroneity of that transition has not been established. As
noted below, a number of researchers have identified considerable intraregional

variation in Early Plains Village period sites in the study area (e.g. Chomko,
DeVore, and Loendorf 1990). Much of the study area appears to have been
abandoned at about A.D. 1400.
Anishapa Phase. Campbell (1969: 389ff) defines the period between about
A.D. 1000 and A.D. 1300 or 1400 as the Apishapa phase. He further subdivides
his Chaquaqua Plateau sites into three overlapping periods, the Early Apishapa
(A.D. 1000-A.D. 1150), Apishapa (A.D. 1000-A.D. 1300) and Late Apishapa
(A.D. 1250-A.D. 1350). By contrast, both Lintz (1986) and Gunnerson (1989)
argue that the Apishapa phase should be confined to the later portion of this
period, from A.D. 1150 or 1200 to about A.D. 1350 or 1400.
Apishapa phase sites consist of rock shelters (Hoyt 1979; Reed and Horn
1995; Rhodes 1984), open surface encampments, and a variety of stone slab
enclosures, ranging from single one-room structures to aggregated settlements
containing 60 rooms (Gunnerson 1987; Nowak and Kantner 1990). Although
there is significant continuity with terminal Plains Woodland construction
practices, Apishapa phase house forms are somewhat more diverse. Many
Apishapa sites also exhibit distinctive architectural features, including the use in
some cases of massive vertical stone slab construction techniques (Figure 4.4; see
also Gunnerson 1989; Ireland 1968). Many, although not all, of these structures
contain several or more rooms, often contiguous and accreted, as well as long,
semi-circular stone "fences" which enclose small plazas or breezeways.
Although dart points and atlatl weights are found in Apishapa contexts,
small, triangular, side-notched arrow points, and in particular Washita and Fresno
points, often dominate Apishapa phase assemblages. In addition, during the
earlier portions of the phase, corner-notched Scallom-like points are also present.
Chipped stone tools are generally more abundant and of greater variety than
during previous periods. Ceramic vessels, while still not abundant, are somewhat
more common than during the Plains Woodland period, and consist of shallow
cord-roughened vessels of various globular forms. At the close of the 12th
century several other ceramic wares were added to the assemblage. According to
Campbell, horticulture became an integral, although not the primary, component
of the economy. More recent research has, however, called into question the
degree to which Apishapa phase peoples relied on maize horticulture (Gunnerson
1989; Zier et al. 1988). Storage pits are less common at Apishapa sites than at
Antelope Creek sites. Although arable land is typically available in the vicinity,
Apishapa phase sites tend to be located on mesas and on high canyon rims.
Interregional contacts are evident at some sites in the region, but in general
exchange relationships do not appear to have been an important segment of the
Apishapa phase economy (Brooks 1988; Chomko, DeVore, and Loendorf 1990;


Lintz 1986).
Southern Park Plateau Phases. Glassow (1980) has defined several phases
for the southern Park Plateau which are linked to Southwestern regional
chronologies. The Escritores phase (A.D. 900-A.D. 1100) type site, NP-l/Area
1, contained a deep pithouse structure reminiscent of Valdez phase pithouses from
the Taos district; typical Southwestern painted and culinary pottery sherds; and a
deep midden suggestive of intensive occupation (Glassow 1980: 73). A variety of
faunal remains, and a large chipped and ground stone assemblage, were also
present at the site.
Among the cultural taxa defined for the Cimarron district, the succeeding
Ponil phase (A.D. 1100-A.D. 1250) most closely resembles the Sopris phase
occupation of the Trinidad district (see Chapter 5). However, only one Ponil
phase structure has been excavated (Lutes 1959a). This site contained a variety of
structures, including a three-room house constructed from vertical slabs, posts
and adobe (Figure 4.5); a jacal structure; and various adobe walls. Lutes (1959a:
61) also identified a structure which may have been a community ceremonial
structure. The ceramic and chipped stone assemblages associated with this site
resemble in most respects those recovered from Sopris phase sites.
Much of what is known about the Ponil phase comes from the excavation
of rock shelters, which appear to have been extensively utilized during this period
(Bogan 1946; J. Campbell 1984; Dorshow, Scheick and Lang 1977; Skinner
1964). These excavations produced large quantities of perishable materials
including yucca-leaf sandals, baskets, large quantities of maize, and some of the
few cucurbit seeds identified for the period (Glassow 1980: 74). The Ponil phase
m the Cimarron district appears to have been the most spatially-extensive
occupation of the area, with sites widely scattered throughout the southern Park
The Cimarron phase, which was the final pre-Athapaskan occupation of
the Cimarron district, is dated to between A.D. 1200 and A.D. 1300, or perhaps
slightly later. Glassow (1980: 74-75) suggests that Cimarron phase structures
were constructed in a variety of multi-room configurations using both stone
masonry and adobe construction techniques. At site MP-3 portions of a large
rectangular stone masonry and adobe structure were excavated. Extensive midden
deposits at the site contained a large artifact and faunal assemblage, in addition to
charred maize and beans. Gunnerson (1987: 96) has also excavated a portion of a
multi-component site (LP-19) which included a "rectangular above-ground kiva."
Cimarron phase dates are based on the presence of Southwestern ceramics, in
particular Santa Fe Black-on-white and perhaps Galisteo Black-on-white (Glassow
1980: 75). The principal ceramic utility ware at Cimarron phase sites appears to


have been the locally-produced Cimarron Plain which, like Taos Gray, was
frequently decorated with incisions, punctations, and so forth. Projectile points
from the phase are side-notched and appear to be larger than those from
preceding periods. Cimarron phase sites are most often located on open ground,
at the lower ends of major canyons.
Summary: Culture Process in Southeastern Colorado and Northeastern New
At the largest scale the Plains Woodland and Early Plains Village
occupation of southeastern Colorado and northeastern New Mexico was
characterized by semi-sedentary residential patterns; multi-focal economic systems
which were frequently dominated by hunting and gathering strategies; multi-
directional exchange networks; and gradual indigenous cultural development. This
overall pattern, however, masks important variability, particularly for the post-
A.D. 900 period.
For the Plains Woodland period a number of independent data sets suggest
that the organization of production remained essentially unchanged from the Late
Archaic until well into the first millennium A.D. Although the bow was probably
introduced some time during the 4th or 5th centuries, the atlatl remained in use
throughout the period. With the exception of the southern Park Plateau, the
construction of permanent architecture, which might suggest changes in patterns
of land tenure or resource access, or increasing sedentism, does not appear to be
widespread until the 6th or 7th centuries (Dorshow, Scheick and Lang 1997;
Glassow 1980; Kalasz 1989). Ceramic containers, which might imply increased
storage capacity or alternative food preparation techniques, have not been
recovered from pre-A.D. 400 contexts (based on calibrated radiocarbon dates),
and do not generally appear in significant numbers until after A.D. 1000. Maize,
the production of which may have had important implications for the structure of
the economic system (Minnis 1985; Speth and Scott 1989; but see Hard et al.
1996), has only been recovered from a few contexts which predate the 6th
century. Whether or not these remains were locally produced has not been
determined; in any case, maize or other cultigens are rare throughout the Plains
Woodland period. Even for the most horticulturally-oriented Plains Woodland
societies in the region maize was probably a minor dietary component.
After about A.D. 900 or 950 local economies began to diversify, although
it is clear that these changes were by no means synchronous throughout the
region. Substantial architecture, occasionally associated with large midden
deposits, has been documented in some areas. Architectural diversity also
characterized this period. Generally, horizontally- as well as vertically-placed

stone slab structures of various configurations were constructed, although adobe
and jacal structures have also been documented. Maize was still a minor element
of regional diets, although its importance grew significantly in some areas
(Glassow 1980; Chapter 5), accompanied perhaps by shifts in faunal procurement
strategies (Speth and Scott 1989; Zier et al. 1988). For some communities the
production or acquisition of ceramic vessels became important, although this shift
may have been the result of social or political changes, as well as of changing
economic strategies. For some groups, regional and interregional exchange
became significant, although other groups may have been largely excluded from
long-distance exchange networks. Although quantitative data have been difficult
to generate (e.g. Andrefsky et al. 1990: 1099), population aggregation appears to
have occurred in several districts. Multi-room aggregated structures have been
reported in the Apishapa, Trinidad, Carrizo, and Cimarron districts. Whether
these small structures (generally less than 10 or 15 rooms) were constructed in
response to population aggregation, population increase, or increased storage
requirements, has not been determined. Interestingly, the economic strategies of
many Early Plains Village period communities may have involved the recurrent
and simultaneous utilization of distinct environmental zones for specific tasks.
This strategy may reflect the continued importance of the semi-sedentary
residential pattern which characterized the preceding period.
Many, although not all, researchers in the region argue that cultural
continuity characterized both the Plains Woodland and Early Plains Village
periods. There is especially strong evidence for cultural as well as economic
continuity across the so-called Archaic-to-Woodland period transition. Projectile
point typologies (Anderson 1989b; Campbell 1969), ceramic styles (Butler 1988;
Hummer 1989), architectural construction sequences (Dorshow 1995a; Dorshow,
Scheick and Lang 1997), functional site types and settlement patterns (Andrefsky
et al. 1990), and tool inventories (Dorshow 1995b; Zier et al. 1989) all suggest
that indigenous development characterized the last millennium B.C. and the first
millennium A.D. There is also reasonably good evidence for cultural continuity
between the Plains Woodland and Plains Village periods, particularly in the
eastern portions of the region. Architectural style trends (Nowak and Kantner
1990: 37), ceramic typologies (Hummer 1989), rock art styles (Loendorf 1989:
362), and chipped stone tool assemblages (Campbell 1969) all argue for cultural
and social continuity. For the western portions of the region, cultural continuity is
somewhat more difficult to establish. Settlement pattern shifts (Dorshow, Scheick,
Lang 1997; Glassow 1980), which may have been the consequence of
organizational changes; significant architectural variation (see Chapter 5); and
ceramic style and technology differences suggest that important cultural changes
may have taken place on the eastern slope of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.
However, there are compelling reasons to argue that the post-A.D. 900/1000

occupants of this area participated in the post-Plains Woodland economic
diversification which was, nevertheless, influenced in part by social and economic
developments in the Rio Grande valley and the southern High Plains. Projectile
point style (Campbell 1969), and site stratigraphy analyses (Glassow 1980;
Chapter 5) suggest the continuation of indigenous development.
At the same time, relative economic diversity marked the Plains
Woodland-to-Plains Village transition. Although many communities pursued
similar economic strategies (i.e. a "dual" economy and semisedentism), local
diversity was significant. In some areas, shifts in settlement patterns (Dorshow,
Scheick, Lang 1997; Glassow 1980) may have been tied to an increased reliance
on cultigens. In other areas, economic strategies appear to have focused on large
mammal procurement (Gunnerson 1989; Ireland 1968; Zier et al. 1988). Still
other communities utilized both large mammals and horticultural products (Lintz
1986). The existence of multiple archaeologically-contemporaneous economic
strategies implies that important differences in the organization of production
existed between communities in the region.
In summary, the economic transition between Late Archaic organizational
patterns and Plains Woodland organizational patterns probably occurred between
the 6th and 8th centuries in southeastern Colorado and northeastern New Mexico,
although the transition appears to have been somewhat earlier on the southern
Park Plateau. It is also apparent that the economic changes which marked this
transition did not appear as a coherent complex.
A second transition occurred during the 10th and 11th centuries
throughout much of the region. By contrast to the preceding Plains Woodland
period, the Early Plains Village period was a time of relative organizational
diversity. This diversification involved gradual, non-synchronous, multi-
directional social and economic changes. In any case, this transition was
temporally and geographically heterogeneous, and was probably a function of
previous local developments as well as of interregional relationships. Although
the phases which have been defined for the period encompass only a portion of
the variability which has been documented in the region, it is clear that there
were substantial differences in the structure and organization of post-A. D 1000
Northern Rio Grande Culture History
Although Wendorf and Reeds (1955) taxonomic system has been widely
applied to the archaeological record of north-central New Mexico, the discussion
which follows uses a slightly modified version of Cordell and Gumermans (1989)
period structure (Figure 4.6). The latter is utilized here because it reflects most

A.D. 1400
A.D. 150
Wendorf and Reed
Cordell and
Gumerman (1989)
Talpa Phase
Pot Creek Phase
Figure 4.2. Northern Rio Grande Cultural Systematics.

directly cultural processes operating in the Taos district.
Pre-A.D. 1000 Developments
Relatively little is known about the Archaic Period in the northern Rio
Grande valley. In part this has to do with geomorphic processes which have
tended to obscure earlier sites (Cordell 1989). More importantly, however, the
hallmarks of many pre-A.D. 1000 sites may be similar to those of some later
Puebloan sites. Because archaeologists have tended to look for the ceramics and
pithouses frequently associated with this period elsewhere in the northern
Southwest, and because many Archaic period sites were reused by later occupants
of the northern Rio Grande (Condie and Smith 1984), the presence of pre-A.D.
1000 sites may not have been recognized (Cordell 1979, 1989). The resolution of
these issues is important because they have implications for the understanding of
cultural continuity in the Taos district. On the one hand, the occupation of the
area can be seen as essentially "Archaic" until about A.D. 1000, at which time
the cultural sequence was truncated by the arrival of Anasazi immigrants.
Alternatively, cultural continuity in the northern Rio Grande may simply not have
been recognized.
Much of the framework for understanding the Archaic period in the
northern Southwest generally, and in the northern Rio Grande specifically, has
been provided by Irwin-Williams (1973). Where they have been recognized,
Archaic period sites typically consist of open lithic scatters which contain a
variety of large projectile points, chipped stone scrapers, and fire-cracked rock. A
number of data recovery projects conducted north of Taos (e.g. Condie and Smith
1984) indicate that many of these lithic scatters are very large, and that they were
repeatedly occupied over long periods of time. The latest Archaic period sites
(the Trujillo phase, A.D. 400-A.D. 600 [Irwin-Williams 1973]) also contain
limited numbers of plain ware sherds, and projectile point forms which seem to
indicate the use of the bow and arrow. By this time, Archaic period economic
strategies also included the limited production of maize crops. Overall, very few
ceramic sites pre-date about A.D. 600 in the northern and middle Rio Grande
(Cordell 1989). As noted above, early architectural sites have been excavated in
the Cimarron district, but the connections between those sites and sites in the
northern Rio Grande are tenuous. A number of sites with dated architectural
features have been documented in the middle Rio Grande, although the
relationships between these sites and regional processes are not understood.
Ceramics associated with these sites consist of both Anasazi gray wares (e.g.
Lino Gray) and Mogollon brown wares (e.g. Alma Plain) (Cordell 1989).
Whether or not the dearth of reported pithouse village sites so

characteristic of the southwestern archaeological record for this period is a
function of stream aggradation and degradation processes, settlement shifts, or
unfamiliar assemblage characteristics, is an open question (Cordell 1989). It does
seem clear, however, that during the first millennium A.D. the northern Rio
Grande was sparsely occupied by mobile groups who engaged in a variety of
economic activities (Cordell 1989).
Differentiation PeriodA.D. 1000/1050-A.D. 1130/1150 or 1200
For the period after about A.D. 1050 much more data are available,
although once again the precise nature and timing of the transition to the
Puebloan pattern of dispersed pithouse hamlets has generated considerable
controversy. Most of the research in the Taos district has focused on the Valdez
phase (Blumenschein 1956, 1958; Boyer et al. 1994; Green 1976; Loose 1974;
Peckham and Reed 1963; Vickery 1969; Wetherington 1968; Woosley 1986). The
most important of these were conducted in the Rio Grande de Ranchos valley in
the vicinity of Fort Burgwin.
Valdez Phase. Many of these researchers view the Valdez phase as the
earliest clearly Anasazi occupation of the northern Rio Grande (see Cordell 1989
for a different interpretation). Recent reanalysis of tree-ring, radiocarbon, and
archaeomagnetic samples indicates that the phase began at about A.D. 1050
(Boyer 1994c, personal communication 1997; Crown 1990). Based on ceramic
cross-dates for the carbon-painted Santa Fe Black-on-white (on which all
researchers in the area appear to agree [Cordell 1989]), archaeomagnetic,
radiocarbon and tree-ring samples, the phase ends by about A.D. 1200 or 1225.
Valdez phase sites generally consist of one to four deep pithouses,
occasionally associated with a variety of jacal surface structures (Figure 4.7).
Pithouses are both circular and rectangular in form, average roughly five meters
in diameter and two and one-half meters in depth. Pithouses contain east-oriented
ventilator shafts, a rectangular roof support structure, collared hearths, ash pits
and a variety of other internal features. Small jacal and adobe surface structures
are often associated with terminal Valdez phase sites. Extramural activity areas
have also been identified at these sites. In addition, a number of soil- and water-
control agricultural sites have been associated with the Valdez phase (Moore
1994b; Woosley 1986).
Despite overall architectural continuity, a number of spatial and temporal
intra-district differences have been observed. For example, Boyer et al. (1994)
have identified at least two Valdez phase communities (north and south of the

Figure 4.7. Valdez Phase Site.

modem Taos Pueblo) on the basis of architecmral and ceramic differences. Loose
(1974) has also suggested that the highly variable sites in the Arroyo Seco area
north of Taos may represent an early Valdez phase occupation. As noted above,
the end of the Valdez phase appears to be marked by the increased use of surface
storage structures.
The existence of community integrative architecture during the Valdez
phase has been controversial. Wetherington (1968: 78-79) argues that no true
(dedicated function) kivas are present during the phase. More recent research
(Jeff Boyer, personal communication, 1997) has indicated that at least some big
kivas may have been used during this period.
The ceramic assemblage at Valdez phase sites includes mineral painted
black-on-white varieties and incised culinary wares. Painted varieties consist
primarily of Taos Black-on-white and Kwahee Black-on-white, both of which are
considered to be descendants of Pueblo II Chacoan types (Wetherington 1968).
Utility vessels consist primarily of incised gray wares which are decorated with
incised lines and punctations. Plain, corrugated and neckbanded varieties are also
present in lesser quantities, although the frequency of corrugated types appears to
increase toward the end of the phase The chipped stone assemblage is relatively
small and consists of a few formal tools, including small, side-notched projectile
points, and flake tools produced using an expedient core-flake reduction strategy
(Moore 1994a; Peckham and Reed 1963).
Reorganization PeriodA.D. 1150/1175 or 1200-A.D. 1300
Pot Creek Phase. The appearance of the carbon-painted Santa Fe Black-
on-white and the utilization of small above-ground adobe pueblos marks the
beginning of the Pot Creek phase. Crown (1990) has argued that these stylistic
and architectural shifts were not synchronous with one another. The dating of the
Pot Creek phase has also been somewhat controversial. Wetherington (1968)
dates the phase to the relatively short period between about A.D. 1200 and A.D.
1250, while Woosley (1986) sees the changes which mark this period as having
occurred earlier, during the 12th century. Crown (1990) argues convincingly that
small, coursed-adobe pueblos were occupied from about A.D. 1225 to A.D.
Pot Creek phase sites generally consist of single-story room blocks
ranging from four to 25 rooms in size which are frequently associated with kivas.
The number of such sites appears to be smaller than the number of Valdez phase
sites, although many of the later structures were constructed over previously-
occupied pithouses (Crown 1990). This pattern of "incipient aggregation" in the
district appears to run counter to trends in the northern and middle Rio Grande

valley generally, where the number of sites increased dramatically during the
Reorganization period (Cordell 1989: 314-315). Population increase, perhaps due
to the immigration of western Anasazi groups, characterizes Rio Grande sites
during this period. In the Taos district, however, there is little evidence for
population increase until after about A.D. 1310 (Crown, Orcutt and Kohler
Ceramics associated with Pot Creek phase sites consist of Santa Fe Black-
on-white, although Taos Black-on-white continued to be produced. Culinary
wares consist primarily of corrugated types, although, again, incised, neckbanded
and plain wares appear in lesser quantities.
Talpa Phase. After about A.D. 1270 the population of the Taos district
appears to have aggregated into a very small number of large pueblos, including
Pot Creek, Picuris, and perhaps Cornfield Taos (Crown, Orcutt and Kohler 1996;
Dick, Wolfman and Schaafsma 1965; Ellis and Brody 1964). Whether or not
other sites in the district date to this period is unknown, although no other large
habitation sites have been reported. The Talpa phase at Pot Creek Pueblo appears
to end abruptly some time around A.D. 1320. The occupation of Cornfield Taos
continues until about A.D. 1450, while Picuris Pueblo is still occupied.
Sites from this period consist of large "modular" (Crown, Orcutt, and
Kohler 1996: 191) aggregations of room blocks, each of which ranges in size
from ten to 35 rooms. At Pot Creek Pueblo, ten such room blocks contain a total
of 250 to 300 rooms, although not all of these were occupied at one time (Crown
1991). These room blocks were frequently associated with kivas, and were
arranged around one or two large plazas. This pattern contrasts with that of some
other aggregated pueblos in the northern and middle Rio Grande which were built
after about A.D. 1300, that appear to have been constructed according to a
predetermined plan (Cordell 1989: 321-322).
The ceramic assemblage at Talpa phase sites is very heterogeneous
(Wetherington 1968). Although the earlier Santa Fe and Taos Black-on-white
types were still produced, Talpa Black-on-white dominates the decorated ware
assemblage. The previous range of culinary wares continued to be manufactured.
A larger variety of trade wares also appeared in the district at this time.
The Talpa phase appears to have witnessed an intensification of
ceremonial practice, perhaps consequent on the post-A.D. 1310 population
increase. At Pot Creek, for example, construction began on a great kiva in A.D.
1318. On the other hand, a kiva which was constructed during the Pot Creek
phase is still in use at Picuris Pueblo (Dick, Wolfman and Schaafsma 1965).

Aggregation Period--A.D. 1300-A.D. 1540
After the abandonment of Pot Creek Pueblo in the early A.D. 1320s
occupation continued at Cornfield Taos and Picuris. Elsewhere in the northern
and middle Rio Grande, populations were similarly aggregated into a relatively
small number of large pueblos. The Aggregation period was also marked by the
production of Rio Grande glaze wares.
Immigration appears to have coincided with aggregation during this
period. Many of these immigrants may have come from western areas, including
the Mesa Verde, although it is probable that Plains groups immigrated to the
northern Rio Grande during this time as well (Cameron 1995; Ellis and Brody
Summary: Culture Process in the Taos District
Although there is little consensus about the nature of the pre-A.D. 1050
occupation of the Taos district, events thereafter are relatively well-understood.
The initial extensive occupation of the district consisted of dispersed, rural
communities of homesteads or hamlets which contained one to four deep
pithouses. Toward the end of the 12th century above-ground storage facilities
were constructed, and pithouses may have begun to take on the more specialized
functions associated with kivas. After A.D. 1225, Anasazi groups in the district
constructed small, multi-room surface pueblos which were associated with plazas
and, in some instances, kivas. The multi-component nature of many sites during
this period suggests settlement continuity, although a smaller number of sites
were occupied through time.
After about A.D. 1270 or so, the degree of aggregation increased, with
only a very small number of sites in the district being occupied. Most or all of
the rural sites appear to have been abandoned at this time. During the decade
after about A.D. 1310 immigrants from adjacent regions, including the middle
Rio Grande, and perhaps the Plains, entered the district (Boyer et al. 1994;
Wetherington 1968).
Most researchers have emphasized the "dual" nature of the prehistoric
Taos district economy. Cordell (1989) argues that wild resources are relatively
plentiful in the area, and that horticulture may have been relatively risky.
Overall, hunting and gathering was probably more important to the Taos Anasazi
than it was to contemporaneous Puebloan groups elsewhere in the Southwest. The
relationships between aggregation and resource access are controversial, however.
If it can be taken that this dual economy persisted through the Valdez, Pot Creek
and Talpa phases, it is clear that it was conducted in the context of both rural and

aggregated settlement systems.
Comparisons to the western Plains are instructive on this point. As noted
above, a number of agricultural field types have been identified in the Taos
district (e.g. Moore 1994b). By contrast, no such features have been reported
from the eastern slope of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, although the ephemeral
nature of these sorts of sites makes them difficult to recognize. At the same time,
a comparison between the faunal remains from several Valdez phase sites (Mick-
OHara 1994) and assemblages from eastern slope sites indicates that Valdez
phase faunal assemblages are smaller and less varied. The emphasis appears to
have been primarily on "field hunting" rather than on extended hunting
expeditions. The complete use of deer remains further suggests that those animals
were preferred but not readily available (Mick-OHara 1994: 372). These very
general indications suggest that, although Valdez phase peoples may have been
less dependent on maize horticulture than other southwestern groups, they
nevertheless were more dependent that their contemporaries on the eastern slope.
Population migration and aggregation are important themes in Taos
prehistory. The shift from the Valdez phase dispersed rural communities to the
aggregated communities of the Talpa phase had significant implications for the
structure of Anasazi social arrangements and economic organization. Crown and
Kohler (1994) provide a detailed discussion of the process of aggregation at Pot
Creek Pueblo. They argue that the social consequences of aggregation include the
shift from nuclear to extended family residential patterns, a process which
occurred slowly and in the absence of dramatic population increases. By contrast,
rapid architectural changes, including the enclosure of the central plaza and the
construction of a big kiva, followed from the influx of immigrants during the
decade between A.D. 1310 and A.D. 1320. These architecmral changes may have
been related to the need to reorganize a larger population. Population increases
heightened the need for effective social controls, which could be achieved through
the construction of integrative community architecture.
Crown, Orcutt, and Kohler (1996) argue that community aggregation in
the northern Rio Grande was a consequence of conflicts over resource access,
which they suggest might have been ameliorated by the social controls possible in
close-knit aggregated villages. In part, this argument turns on the degree to which
large aggregates utilize open lands more "efficiently" than rural hamlets (an
argument summarized for the northern Rio Grande by Cordell 1989: 301). On the
other hand, aggregated villages can be ephemeral phenomena (e.g. Wilshusen
1991), precisely because of the social tensions which arise from increased face-to-
face contact. Clearly the resolution of this issue has theoretical as well as
empirical dimensions.
Despite these organizational changes, there is substantial evidence for
cultural continuity in the Taos district, beginning at about A.D. 1050, continuity

which effectively continues to the present. For the period after A.D. 1050 Boyer
et al. (1994) make a convincing argument for large-scale Anasazi immigration,
perhaps from the middle Rio Grande. If the Valdez phase was an indigenous
development, then the available evidence indicates that the social and economic
organizational shifts which would have accompanied that A.D. 1050 transition
were rapid and dramatic. On the other hand, most of the excavation data from the
district derives from archaeological projects conducted in the Rio Grande de
Ranchos valley. Additional data from elsewhere in the district might shed light on
this subject.
Patterns of Interregional Interaction
Although the precise nature of long-distance social and economic contacts
between the Rio Grande valley and southeastern Colorado and northeastern New
Mexico is unclear for the Plains Woodland period, there is ample evidence for
the existence of such networks. Further, Plains Woodland data demonstrate that a
variety of relationships must have existed. Much of this exchange appears to have
been conducted with communities in the middle Rio Grande and Pecos River
valleys (Hofman and Brooks 1988; Willey and Hughes 1978).
The principal exchange material during the Plains Woodland period
appears to have been lithic raw materials. Some of these materials, primarily
obsidian, Alibates agatized dolomite, and a variety of cryptocrystalline quartz
materials, probably originated in north-central Colorado, northern New Mexico,
and the Texas panhandle. Obsidian, Medicine Creek flint, and Alibates agatized
dolomite are the principal exotic materials recognized at Plains Woodland sites
throughout the region (e.g. Anderson 1976; Campbell 1969: 377; Saunders
1983). Zier et al. (1989) indicate that exotic materials are rare at Recon John
Shelter, but that the proportion of exotic to local materials is relatively consistent
through time. Dorshow (1995b) reports similar results for the Ancho Canyon
area. Frequently, exotic lithic artifacts are overrepresented by formal tools (Hand
and Jepson 1996).
Interestingly, most researchers have assumed that the obsidian recovered
from Plains Woodland sites in southeastern Colorado and northeastern New
Mexico was obtained from sources in north-central New Mexico, an assumption
which may not be entirely warranted. Recent research conducted at sites in
Texas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico indicates that some of the obsidian recovered
from pre-A.D. 1450 contexts originated in southern Idaho and western Utah
(Baugh and Nelson 1987). While the nature of this exchange has not been
examined in detail, it is clear that proximity is not necessarily the most important
criteria for the establishment of an exchange relationship.

Marine shell exchange also appears to have been an important component
of Plains Woodland exchange networks. Woodland period burials containing
olivella shell beads have been reported from southeastern Colorado (Black, Spurr
and France 1991) as well from farther east (Gunnerson 1987). Finally, Jornada
Mogollon brown ware ceramics have been recovered from Plains Woodland
period sites in northeastern New Mexico and the Texas panhandle. The origins
and intensity of this exchange have not been examined in detail.
Interregional exchange relationships appear to have increased in
importance during the Early Plains Village period. Significant intraregional
differences are, however, apparent. Most researchers argue that both regional and
interregional contacts were probably not important to Apishapa phase peoples.
Various exchange items, such as Southwestern ceramics and obsidian, have been
recovered from Apishapa sites, although nowhere are they abundant. The
distinctive alternately-beveled knives characteristic of the Antelope Creek phase,
which may have been produced specifically for exchange, appear to be absent
from Apishapa phase sites, for example.
By contrast, exchange networks were very important to other Early Plains
Village period groups in the smdy region. Intensive interregional contacts
developed between Sopris, Ponil and Cimarron phase communities, and Ancestral
Puebloan societies in the northern Rio Grande valley. Indeed, the intensity and
significance of these contacts was such that many researchers view Early Plains
Village communities in the Trinidad and Cimarron districts as fundamentally
"Puebloan," and a product of the generalized Pueblo II period demographic
expansion. Exchanged items minimally included obsidian, turquoise, and both
utilitarian and painted ceramics.
Interregional exchange also appears to have been a significant component
of the Antelope Creek phase economy (Lintz 1986, 1991). Interaction took place
with groups living to the north, east and west of the Texas panhandle. Exchanged
items included ceramics, obsidian, shell, and turquoise from the Southwest, as
well as a variety of items from Caddoan communities to the east, and Upper
Republican communities to the north. In exchange, Antelope Creek communities
supplied Alibates agatized dolomite tools, bone tools, and bison products.
Data from northeastern New Mexico east and south of the
Cimarron district, and south of the Dry Cimarron River valley, are little more
than suggestive. Jornada Mogollon brown wares, which date to the period before
about A.D. 1200, are widely distributed throughout this area (Stuart and Gauthier
1981). After A.D. 1200, exchange relationships appear to have been shifted to
the northern and central Rio Grande.
Although not all communities participated in these networks, and it is
unlikely that the origins or functions of long-distance exchange were everywhere
the same, interaction seems to have been the rule rather than the exception during

the Early Plains Village period. However, with a few exceptions (e.g. Lintz
1986, 1991), no attempts have been made to explain these networks.

This chapter focuses on the archaeology of the Trinidad district. The
discussion begins with an overview of what is known about the Plains Woodland
period on the northern Park Plateau and concludes with an analysis of Sopris
phase chronology, economy, settlement patterns, architecture, and social
Plains Woodland PeriodA.D. 200-900/1000
In comparison to other portions of southeastern Colorado, the pre-A.D.
900 archaeological record on the northern Park Plateau is virtually unknown.
Limited excavation data about the Late Archaic period are available from one site
(Rood 1990). Very few sites have been convincingly attributed to the Plains
Woodland period. One excavated site (5LA1483) included a series of circular
stone structures similar to Graneros or terminal Plains Woodland structures
elsewhere in the region (Baker 1965), although the site appears to have more in
common with post-A.D. 750 structures in the Ancho Canyon study area than it
does with the stone structure at Bel wood, particularly given the relative
abundance of cord-roughened ceramics at the latter (Hunt 1975). Dick (1963)
excavated a somewhat similar site (5LA1411), although subsequent analyses
indicate that it may date to the Protohistoric period (Ireland 1974a).
One very unusual Trinidad district structure has been attributed to the
period before about A.D. 900 (Dick 1974). The Running Pit House site, which is
located west of Trinidad in Reilly Canyon, consisted of an amorphous, four-
room, semi-subterranean structure. Associated artifacts included Scallom-like
comer-notched points, bone awls and beads, and several types of metates. The
chronological placement of this site is not at all certain (Eighmy 1984).
Elsewhere in the Trinidad district, Gleichman (1983) reports a terminal Plains
Woodland period radiocarbon date (Calibrated: A.D. 980; 1-sigma: A.D. 892-
1013; 2-sigma: A.D. 869-1029; 109055 B.P.) from 5LA2202 which, however-,
appears to be unassociated with architecmral features.
Despite the general paucity of architecmral sites which date to this period,
a large number of undated lithic scatters are located along the terraces of the
Purgatoire River (Blair 1980; Gleichman 1983; Indeck and Legard 1984,

McKibbin et al. 1997; Tucker 1983), as well as in the headwaters of the
Apishapa River south of the Spanish Peaks (Lutz and Hunt 1979). Sites in this
area have typically been classified as either limited activity loci, or as temporary
base camps (Lutz and Hunt 1979). The former contain a limited tool assemblage
unassociated with cultural features, while the latter contain a larger, more diverse
tool assemblage, in some cases associated with cultural features. Analyses of
projectile points from these sites suggest that at least some of them may contain
Late Archaic and Plains Woodland components. Unfortunately, many of the
projectile point styles from southeastern Colorado were manufactured over very
long periods of time (Campbell 1969) and as a result it has been difficult to
assign particular assemblages to particular time periods. Other evidence (chipped
stone, ceramics, and glass beads) indicates that many of these sites were in fact
used repeatedly over long periods of time, including during the Sopris phase. The
remainder of the chipped stone assemblage at these sites suggests the use of an
expedient core-flake reduction strategy.
Inadequate survey coverage may contribute to the impression that the
Trinidad district was sparsely populated during the Plains Woodland period.
However, a couple of data sets suggest that this may have in fact been the case.
First, in the Trinidad Lake project area, which has been extensively surveyed on
several occasions (most recently by Dore [1993]), no unequivocal Plains
Woodland sites have been recorded. No deeply cord-impressed ceramics have
been recovered, nor have the characteristic Graneros-like masonry structures been
documented. These same conclusions can be drawn from surveys conducted in
adjacent areas (e.g. Lutz and Hunt 1979; Tucker 1983). Second, rock art
evidence indicates that the Late Archaic and Plains Woodland period occupations
of the Trinidad district were probably ephemeral or task-specific (Mitchell 1997).
While the district was probably utilized during this period, particularly given a
geographically-extended economy, it is reasonable to conclude that the Plains
Woodland occupation of the district was limited or intermittent.
Early Plains Village PeriodA.D. 900/1000-1400
Intensive occupation of the northern Park Plateau begins with the Early
Plains Village period, after about A.D. 900 or 950. The Sopris phase, or Upper
Purgatoire complex as it was originally known, was defined by Dick (1963) to
describe a series of stone masonry sites located adjacent to the floodplain of the
Purgatoire River. Several Sopris phase sites were documented by Renaud (1931,
1932, 1935, 1942), Wedel (1939), Chase (Dick 1954), and Tatum and
Dondelinger (1945; Dondelinger and Tatum 1942) beginning in the early 1930s.
However, it was not until planning for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Trinidad Lake Flood Control Project began in the mid-1950s that a large-scale
survey and excavation program began. Eventually more than 20 habitation sites
were located and documented in the district. A search of site records maintained
by the Colorado Historical Society indicates that a number of other Sopris phase
sites have been partially documented. Between 1952 and 1977 eighteen Sopris
phase structures were excavated and analyzed (Baker 1964, 1967; Bair 1975;
Dick 1954, 1963; Ireland 1970, 1971, 1973, 1974a, 1974b; Ireland and Wood
1974; McCabe 1973; Wood and Bair 1980). At least four more structures have
been excavated, although the results of those projects have never been reported.
More than a dozen Sopris phase structures were probably destroyed prior to the
beginning of formal archaeological investigations in the area. In addition, related
archaeological manifestations have been reported on the Raton Pass, south of
Trinidad, and along the upper reaches of the Canadian River in northeastern New
Mexico (Baker 1964, 1965; J. Campbell 1984; Dorshow, Scheick and Lang 1997;
Glassow 1980, 1984; Gunnerson 1959; Kershner 1984; Lutes 1957, 1958, 1959a,
1959b, 1960).
The Sopris phase began with the appearance of homesteads and hamlets
along terraces above the Purgatoire River and its tributaries. Because intensive
survey and excavation efforts have been limited to a relatively small portion of
the area, little is known about site function variability or the total geographical
range of the Sopris phase. Like other Early Plains Village groups, Sopris phase
communities practiced a "dual" economy, employed extensive storage technology,
and utilized a large inventory of bone tools. Sopris phase architecture is highly
variable, and includes pithouses, wattle and daub surface structures, adobe
pueblos, and stone masonry structures. Small, triangular projectile points of
various styles are associated with these structures, although larger dart points
have also been recovered. The alternately-beveled, diamond-shaped knives
characteristic of Early Plains Village sites farther east are conspicuously absent,
with the exception of several specimens which were made from Alibates agatized
dolomite, and were probably traded into the district. Agricultural implements also
appear to be largely absent from Sopris phase tool kits. In addition, unlike
Apishapa and Antelope Creek phase ceramic assemblages, the Sopris phase
assemblage has parallels with Southwestern ceramic traditions. Indeed, Sopris
phase sites have generally been identified by the presence of Taos incised culinary
wares, as well as by the presence of rectilinear stone masonry architecture.
Whether there was occupational continuity from the preceding Plains
Woodland period in the Trinidad or Cimarron districts is an unresolved issue,
although some evidence suggests that this was the case (e.g Eighmy and Wood
1984; Glassow 1980: 77; see also below). Stratigraphic evidence at a number of
sites indicates that they may have been occupied prior to the 11th century,
although it is clear that at that time significant settlement pattern shifts took place.

Sopris Phase Archaeology
The discussion which follows draws primarily on data from the two most
completely excavated Sopris phase sites, 5LA1211 and 5LA1416, both of which
are located in the central portion of the district, adjacent to the floodplain of the
Purgatoire River. 5LA1211, known as the Leone Bluffs site, is located on the
first major terrace above the river, immediately east of the rivers confluence
with Long Canyon. 5LA1211 contained a minimum of six structures (Figure 5.1).
Structure 1 (Figure 5.2) was excavated in 1967 by Edwin Guilinger (Ireland
1974b) and consisted of two superimposed jacal surface structures. Relatively
little is known about this structure. Structure 2 (Figure 5.3) was excavated by
Gerald Bair in 1975 and 1976 (Wood and Bair 1980). This jacal building
contained four rooms, two of which can appropriately be considered storage
rooms. It also contained a number of floor features, including two adobe-collared
hearths and three sub-floor cists, two of which contained human burials.
Structure 3 (Figure 5.4) was excavated by Galen Baker and Stephen
Ireland (Ireland 1970). This structure consisted of 11 rooms which were
constructed in a series of discrete episodes. The large (5.8 meters by 7 meters)
central room was surrounded by 10 smaller rooms, at least some of which were
probably storage rooms. As with Structure 2, Structure 3 contained a variety of
floor features, including bell-shaped storage pits, adobe-collared hearths, post
holes, and human burials. Structure 4 (Figure 5.5) was excavated by Galen Baker
and Stephen Ireland (Ireland 1973). Like Structures 1 and 2, Structure 4 was a
jacal building, apparently circular in outline, which was constructed over a
shallow basin floor.
Structures 5 and 6 (Figure 5.6) are both roughly circular "pithouses"
excavated by Gerald Bair (Wood and Bair 1980). The former was about 35
centimeters deep and 2.2 meters in diameter, while the latter was about 1 meter
deep and 2.9 meters in diameter. Both contained central hearths; neither included
sub-floor storage cists. No evidence for roof architecture was noted for either
structure. The terrace on which 5LA1211 was located also contained a large
number of extra-architectural hearths and storage pits. In addition, activity areas
marked by lithic and ceramic scatters were also documented on the terrace. Very
little is known about the stratigraphic relationships between the structures,
features and activity areas, although the superimposition of some structures and
feamres suggests repeated or continuous occupation of the terrace.
Prior to its inundation by Trinidad Lake, 5LA1416, which is also known
as the Sopris site, was located on a low alluvial terrace roughly 12 meters above
the floodplain of the Purgatoire River, immediately upstream from its confluence
with Carpios Canyon (Figure 5.7). The site contained a minimum of six
structures, although a review of stratigraphic profiles and field notes indicates that

Structure 3
Structure 4
Structure 6
Structure 5
Structure I
0 15m
Redrawn from Wood and Bair (1980)
Figure 5.1. Site Plan, 5LA1211.

Figure 5.2. 5LA1211, Structure 1.

Figure 5.3. 5LA1211, Structure 2.


Limits of Burned Floor
Redrawn from Hand, Latuda and Bair (1977)
Figure 5.5. 5LA1211, Structure 4.

Redrawn from original field maps and Wood and Bair (1980)
Figure 5.6. 5LA1211, Structures 5 and 6.

at least three other unreported structures were also present. Structure 1 (Figure
5.8) was excavated by Galen Baker and Stephen Ireland (Ireland and Wood 1973;
Wood and Bair 1980) and consisted of a large stone masonry building. The
central room, which measured roughly 7.3 meters by 5.5 meters, was surrounded
by three smaller rooms which may have been used for storage As with most
Sopris phase buildings, Structure 1 contained a variety of floor features, including
collared hearths, storage pits and human burials.
Structure 2 (Figure 5.9) was a circular jacal building containing post
holes, a central hearth and a series of storage cists. This structure was excavated
by Stephen Ireland (Ireland 1974a; Ireland and Wood 1973), and appears to have
been similar to Structure 4 at 5LA1211. Structure 3 (Figure 5.10) was excavated
by Herb Dick and Gerald Bair (Wood and Bair 1980). This building is unique in
the district in that it was constructed primarily from adobe with only minor
additions of stone. A typical suite of floor features were documented. Unlike
many of the other large Sopris phase buildings, however, Structure 3 was
occupied in at least 3 and possibly 4 temporally-discrete episodes which may have
been separated by short periods of abandonment. Structure 4 (Figure 5.11) was
excavated by Galen Baker and Gerald Bair (Ireland and Wood 1973; Wood and
Bair 1980). Like Structure 1, Structure 4 was a large multi-roomed stone
masonry building constructed from horizontally-laid stone slabs. An adobe or
jacal structure, perhaps similar to Structure 1 at 5LA1211, was observed under
this stone masonry building. Very little is known about the excavation of
Structure 4.
Structure 5 (Figure 5.12) was excavated by Gerald Bair (Wood and Bair
1980). This structure was a large (1.2 meters deep and 3 to 4.8 meters in
diameter) pit which contained four human burials. The large central hearth seems
to have received little use; no evidence for a roof was documented. Structure 6
(Figure 5.13) was a shallow pithouse with a south-facing ramp entry way
excavated by Gerald Bair in 1975 and 1976 (Wood and Bair 1980). No evidence
for a roof was obtained during the excavation, although a collared hearth and a
storage cist were documented.
Like 5LA1211, a very large number of extra-architectural storage pits and
hearths were located adjacent to the structures at 5LA1416. Stratigraphic
relationships among the structures, features and activity areas at this site could
not generally be determined, however.
Excavation data are also available from a number of other Sopris phase
sites, including 5LA1413 (Ireland 1970), 5LA1417 (Ireland 1973), 5LA1418
(Ireland 1973), 5LA1419 (Ireland 1974b), 5LA1424 (Ireland 1974b), 5LA1425
(Ireland 1974a), and 5LA1482 (Baker 1965). One tested stone structure which
may date to the Sopris phase (5LA1528 [Hand, Latuda and Bair 1977]) has also
been mapped. 5LA1415, 5LA1420, and 5LA1519 were excavated by Hal Chase,



Figure 5.9. 5LA1416, Structure 2.
Limit of Burned Floor
O Posthole
Redrawn from Ireland (1974a)


Figure 5.11. 5LA1416, Structure 4.

Edwin Guilinger, and Herb Dick respectively, but no records or maps are
available for any of this work.
Sopris Phase Chronology
One of the most pressing problems in Sopris phase archaeology has been
the construction of a reliable chronology. The original chronology, based
primarily on the production dates of Southwestern black-on-white trade wares
(Mera 1935), placed the Early Plains Village occupation of the Trinidad district
between A.D. 1150 and A.D. 1250 or 1300 (Dick 1963). This preliminary
chronology was later modified and expanded to include three subphases: the
Initial Sopris Phase (A.D. 1000-1100), the Early Sopris Phase (A.D. 1100-1150),
and the Late Sopris Phase (A.D. 1150-1225+), on the basis of radiocarbon and
archaeomagnetic dates; Wetheringtons (1968) work at Pot Creek Pueblo; and a
proposed Sopris phase architectural sequence (Wood and Bair 1980). Despite
these modifications, however, it is fair to say that significant problems have been
encountered in the analysis and interpretation of both radiocarbon and
archaeomagnetic samples from Sopris phase sites. The following discussion
reevaluates the chronometric data gathered to date, and proposes several new
Ceramic Chronology. The earliest attempts to date the Sopris phase were
based on production dates for northern Rio Grande black-on-white ceramics from
the Taos district. Unfortunately this chronology is itself uncertain (Boyer et al.
1994; Cordell 1979, 1989; Smart and Gauthier 1981; Wetherington 1968). The
key issue which frames this debate is the origin of Red Mesa Black-on-white or
Red Mesa-like sherds in the Taos district, and the relationships between Red
Mesa and Taos or Kwahee Black-on-white, both of which are Rio Grande
descendants of Red Mesa.
A number of investigators have identified Red Mesa Black-on-white sherds
at sites in the Taos district (Loose 1974), as well as at sites in the Trinidad
district (Wood and Bair 1980). Red Mesa Black-on-white is a Pueblo II (A.D.
900-A.D. 1100) Chacoan-style ware, and if Taos district Red Mesa sherds
represent imported vessels, then the occupation of the Taos district, and by
extension the Trinidad district, may have begun in the 10th or 11th centuries.
Cordell (1979) suggests that these sherds may in fact be locally-produced
varieties, in which case ceramic cross dates derived from this type are potentially
There have been several attempts to resolve this issue. In the middle Rio
Grande, Wiseman and Olinger (1991) used X-ray fluorescence to differentiate

Redrawn from original field maps and Wood and Bair (1980)
Figure 5.12. 5LA1416, Structure 5.

Reproduced from Wood and Bair (1980)
Figure 5.13. 5LA1416, Structure 6.

between imported and locally-produced Red Mesa sherds. Their analysis suggests
that, although local production may have begun in the late A.D. 800s, significant
numbers of locally-produced black-on-white ceramics (Kwahee Black-on-white)
appeared at about A.D. 1100. In the Taos district, Levine (1994) and Hill (1994)
have argued that all of the black-on-white sherds recovered from a series of
Valdez phase sites near Pot Creek Pueblo were locally produced. This type, Taos
Black-on-white, is contemporaneous with, and macroscopically identical to,
Kwahee Black-on-white. Both types are stylistically similar to Red Mesa.
Whether imported Red Mesa sherds are present elsewhere in the Taos district is
not known. Boyer et al. (1994; Jeff Boyer, personal communication 1997; see
also Crown 1990) have concluded that the Valdez phase, and by extension the
first appearance of black-on-white ceramics in the district, begins about A.D.
1050. Even if imported Red Mesa sherds are present at sites in the area (e.g.
Loose 1974), an early occupation date for the Taos district is not supported by
archaeomagnetic or tree-ring dates.
A further problem confronts the use of ceramic cross dates at sites in the
Trinidad district. Virtually all of the black-on-white sherds recovered from the
district are small and well worn. No complete black-on-white vessels have been
recovered. Given the small size of most sherds, and the eroded condition of slips
and designs, few if any can confidently be assigned to a particular type.
However, stylistically, most appear to fall into the widespread Dogoszhi tradition,
of which Kwahee and Taos Black-on-white are representative. A number of
sherds have been assigned either to Kwahee or Taos Black-on-white on the basis
of slip application, although it now appears that this particular distinction between
the two is probably not viable (Levine 1994).
In summary, problems with the dating and exchange of Chaco Il-style
ceramics in the Taos district make the assignment of a beginning date for their
appearance in the Trinidad district problematic. As noted above, Taos Black-on-
white appears in the Taos district at about A.D. 1050 and, judging by the more
or less simultaneous appearance of Kwahee and Taos Black-on-white in the
northern Rio Grande, it is reasonable to assume that Taos Black-on-white was
traded to the Cimarron and Trinidad districts at about the same time.
Ceramic cross dates are much more helpful for determining the end of the
Early Plains Village period occupation of the Trinidad district. In the Taos area,
the end of the Valdez phase is marked by the appearance of small quantities of
Santa Fe Black-on-white, an organic painted type (Boyer, personal
communication, 1997). All researchers in the area agree that this type first
appears at about A.D. 1200 (Cordell 1989). The style of culinary wares produced
in the Taos area also began to shift at this time, as corrugated wares began to
replace incised and neckbanded wares. Although corrugated wares appear in the
Valdez phase, and incised styles linger into the subsequent Pot Creek phase, the

transition between the two appears to have been fairly rapid (Wetherington 1968:
In the Trinidad district, no carbon-painted black-on-white sherds have
been identified, although Santa Fe Black-on-white has been documented in the
Cimarron district (Glassow 1980), as well as at some Apishapa phase sites
(Ireland 1968). Similarly, few or no corrugated gray wares have been
documented in the Trinidad district. Although Santa Fe Black-on-white does not
replace the mineral-painted Taos Black-on-white in the Taos district, the absence
of carbon-painted wares in Trinidad suggests that interaction with the Taos
district ceased by about A.D. 1200. Whether the Sopris phase occupation of the
Trinidad district ended at this time cannot be determined from ceramic evidence
alone, although, as discussed below, there is reason to believe that this was the
Absolute Dates. The interpretation of both archaeomagnetic and
radiocarbon dates from the Trinidad district has been very problematic. Between
1969 and 1980 12 radiocarbon and seven archaeomagnetic dates were published
for two Sopris phase sites. Two of the radiocarbon dates were reported by
Bretemitz (1969) on log fragments from Structure 3 at 5LA1211 (Eighmy and
Wood 1984). The remaining ten radiocarbon dates were reported by Wood and
Bair (1980) on charcoal and feature fill samples from a variety of contexts at both
5LA1416 and 5LA1211. Table 5.1 presents the dates derived from these samples.
All seven archaeomagnetic dates (see Table 5.3), taken from a variety of contexts
at both 5LA1416 and 5LA1211, were reported by Wood and Bair (1980).
At first glance, most of the radiocarbon dates appear to be too early, given
the constraints imposed by the presence of ceramic trade wares in the district.
This is particularly evident when these dates are calibrated to the most recent
dendrochronological curve. All of the radiocarbon dates were rejected by Wood
and Bair, although subsequently an attempt was made to account for some of
them (Eighmy and Wood 1984). The problems associated with the interpretation
of these dates can be attributed to several factors, including the difficulty of
stratigraphic correlation at 5LA1211 and 5LA1416, sample selection procedures,
and analytic errors. Establishing floor and activity area surfaces at Sopris phase
sites has proven to be very difficult. At the same time, the use of heart wood or
old wood for fuel, as well as for architectural members, has resulted in dates that
are too old, perhaps by several centuries. For the dates from feature fill samples
it is probable that untreated carbonate or coal contamination (Indeck and Legard
1984) skewed the results of the radiocarbon assays. Given these problems, it is
tempting to reject all of the radiocarbon dates. However, an analysis of sample
type, provenience, and distribution suggests an alternative interpretation.

Building on the reconstruction provided by Eighmy and Wood (1984), the
following analysis argues that at least some of the dates may be associated with a
terminal Plains Woodland period occupation of the Trinidad district, an
occupation which pre-dated the development of the interaction network between
the Sopris phase and the Valdez phase. Of the five radiocarbon dates from
5LA1211, two are from Structure 2, two are from Structure 3, and one dates an
extramural hearth. Both samples from Structure 2 were taken from architectural
members. Taken at face value, the 2-sigma calibrated date ranges for these
samples would place Structure 2 well into the Plains Woodland period, an
assignment which is not supported by the associated artifact assemblage. Clearly
these dates derive from very old wood or heart wood samples, or from samples
which were contaminated. Nothing is now known about the analytical procedures
used to process and date these samples. In either case, both are of little utility.
Table 5.1. Original Sopris Phase Radiocarbon Dates
Provenience Sample Age1 Calibrated Date2
5LA1211, Structure 2
5LA1211, Structure 2
5LA1211, Feature 59
5LA1211, Structure 3
5LA1211, Structure 3
5LA1416, Feature 7
5LA1416, Structure 6
5LA1416, Feature 31
5LA1416, Feature 31
5LA1416, Feature 79
5LA1416, Feature 90
1-9747 1605 + 80
1-9748 1325+80
1-9749 1285 + 80
W-1906 1030+250
W-1910 1000+250
1-9750 1315+80
1-9764 1285+80
1-9753 1020 + 110
1-9763 1260+80
1-9752 1545 + 80
1-9751 1185+80
1-9762 1410+80
5LA1416, Trench #1
1 Conventional radiocarbon age in years B.P.
2 2-sigma calibrated date and curve intercept in years A.D.

The 2-sigma calibrated dates for the samples from Structure 3 indicate
that, while the samples cannot be rejected, their usefulness is severely limited.
Bretemitz (1969) felt that the dates as originally reported were too early given
their association with Santa Fe Black-on-white sherds. This association appears to
have been incorrect, however (Ireland 1970). The date for Feature 59 is also
early. Because no temporally-diagnostic artifacts were associated with this
feature, and its stratigraphic relationship to other features is equivocal, it is
difficult to evaluate the accuracy of the associated date. As a result, none of the
radiocarbon dates from 5LA1211 are particularly helpful.
Of the seven radiocarbon dates available for 5LA1416, two date a storage
or roasting pit, while the remaining five were taken from a variety of
stratigraphic contexts. The Feature 7 hearth pre-dates both Structure 2 and
Structure 5, both of which were clearly associated with black-on-white and
incised wares manufactured in the Taos district. This stratigraphic position
suggests that the Feature 7 date may be reasonable, particularly if the sample
contained old wood. Two dates are available for Feature 31, from which the only
complete Taos incised jar in the district was recovered. The sample from the pit
floor appears to be too early, given the presence of the Taos jar. As with the
dates from Structure 2 at 5LA1211, this date may derive from an old wood
sample, or from a contaminated sample. The feature fill date can be accepted,
particularly given the fairly large analytical error. The dates from Features 79
and 90 appear to be reversed, given their probable stratigraphic relationship.
Based on somewhat equivocal stratigraphic evidence and archaeomagnetic dates
(discussed in more detail below), Feature 79 is associated with the occupation of
Structure 3, which is itself associated with Taos district ceramics.
Feature 90 is clearly located beneath Structure 3. Given these
relationships, the date for Feature 79 appears again to derive from very old wood
or a contaminated sample. On the other hand, Feature 90 is stratigraphically
associated with what may have been the remains of a shallow pithouse. Similarly,
the sample from the Structure 6 hearth dates a shallow, irregular pithouse.
Structure 6 and Feature 90 (associated with Features 94 and 96) contained either
very few or no ceramics, and no ceramics produced in the Taos district.
Several lines of evidence suggest that shallow, irregular pithouses may
have been the earliest architectural form in the Trinidad district. Although it is by
no means clear that an architectural sequence can be established on the basis of
this evidence, pithouses may predate other architectural forms, based on their
lack of clear association with Taos ceramic wares. Evidence from the Running Pit
House site also indicates that this architectural form may pre-date the production
of local ceramics in the district as well. On the basis of these data, there is at
present no justification for rejecting the radiocarbon dates from Structure 6 or
Feature 90, particularly if the wood used to date these features was moderately