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The Archaeology of Regional Interaction: Religion, Warfare, and Exchange across the American Southwest and Beyond

The Archaeology of Regional Interaction: Religion, Warfare, and Exchange across the American Southwest and Beyond

by Michelle Hegmon (Editor)

How and why did styles, materials, conflicts, and religious ideas spread across prehistoric landscapes? The Archaeology of Regional Interaction investigates these questions, using the rich resource of the American Southwest and covering periods from the Folsom to the nineteenth century. Editor Michelle Hegmon has compiled superbly researched essays into a


How and why did styles, materials, conflicts, and religious ideas spread across prehistoric landscapes? The Archaeology of Regional Interaction investigates these questions, using the rich resource of the American Southwest and covering periods from the Folsom to the nineteenth century. Editor Michelle Hegmon has compiled superbly researched essays into a comprehensive examination of regional interaction that has proved itself a pivotal archaeological text.

The Archaeology of Regional Interaction surpasses most regional studies, which only focus on settlement patterns or exchange, and considers other forms of interaction, such as intermarriage and the spread of religious practices. Contributors focus especially on understanding the social processes that underlie archaeological evidence of interaction.

The essays in this volume examine what regional systems involve, in terms of political and economic relations, and how they can be identified. One essay by Steven LeBlanc provides a sweeping analysis of conflict, a form of regional interaction that has received relatively little attention in the Southwest until recently. A series of chapters devoted to expanding the coverage beyond the borders of the traditional Southwest examines the surrounding areas, including Nevada and Utah, northern Mexico, and the Plains.The volume also provides a unique treatment of religion - including manifestations such as Flower World Iconography, Medicine Societies, and ceremonial textiles - as a form of regional interrelation.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"The Archaeology of Regional Interaction makes a significant effort to dissolve past conceptual boundaries and increase our understanding of prehistoric social behavior in the Southwest. It addresses some of the most important issues in southwestern archaeology today. . . . An important contribution to southwestern prehistory."
- American Antiquity

"A handy reference on the shelf of any archaeologist or scholar with an interest in archaeology of the American Southwest and archeaological method and theory."
- New Mexico Historical Review

Product Details

University Press of Colorado
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Proceedings of the Southwest Symposium Series
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6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.40(d)

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THE Archaeology OF Regional Interaction

Religion, Warfare, and Exchange Across the American Southwest And Beyond

University Press of Colorado

Copyright © 2000 University Press of Colorado
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-87081-904-9

Chapter One

Changing Perceptions of Regional Interaction in the Prehistoric Southwest

Michelle Hegmon Kelley Hays-Gilpin Randall H. McGuire Alison E. Rautman Sarah H. Schlanger

Research at a regional scale and interest in regional interaction have a long, though uneven, history in the study of southwestern prehistory. Early exploratory work mostly investigated particular sites and localities, but it also raised questions about large-scale interaction, such as Fewkes's (1896) recognition of the distribution of Pacific shell on sites in northeast Arizona and speculations regarding Mesoamerican influence in (or intrusion into) Chaco Canyon (see summary in Schroeder 1979). This work set the stage for regional and larger-scale syntheses in the 1920s and 1930s (e.g., Gladwin and Gladwin 1934; Kidder 1962). Although the perspectives provided by this work were regional or interregional in scope, these authors expressed relatively little interest in interaction at those scales. Instead, they generally assumed that diffusion was a natural process (see Schortman and Urban 1987) and often emphasized the importance of independent development, with only a "germ" of influence from the outside (e.g., Kidder 1962: 326). One important exception was Harold Colton (1939, 1941), who specifically considered trade in his synthesis of Southwest cultural units.

By mid-century, as archaeologists concentrated on establishing chronological sequences and reconstructing events at particular sites and localities, regional interaction (other than diffusion) was increasingly ignored or even rejected as a factor to be reckoned with. The classic case is the work of Anna Shepard. Today, archaeologists have little doubt that specialized pottery production and exchange were organized at large scales in late northern Rio Grande prehistory. But when Shepard (1936, 1942) first presented her "heretical" (Cordell 1991) evidence for this regional interaction her work was mostly ignored—possibly because she was a woman, possibly because she did not have an academic position, possibly because her conclusions did not fit with the prevailing paradigm (see Cordell 1991; Plog 1989). In the next decade Gordon Willey's (1956) work on settlement patterns helped to move archaeologists away from a sometimes overly narrow focus on classification; however—at least in the Southwest—settlement pattern studies prompted little interest in regional interaction but rather led to more work on environmental adaptations (Haury 1956). Emil Haury (1945) identified a need to better understand contacts between the Southwest and Mesoamerica (at that time he attributed the origins of the Hohokam to migration from the south), but this kind of regional or interregional interaction did not become a focus of research.

The advent of the New Archaeology in the 1960s prompted great changes in the kinds of questions asked about Southwest prehistory (Longacre 1970), but regional interaction was not yet a major part of the new repertoire. Instead, villages and communities were thought to have been relatively autonomous, an assumption that facilitated analysis of them as systems (see Doyel and Lekson 1992: 15). The exchange of pottery was little considered, since "autonomous" villages were thought to have produced their own pottery (see Plog 1980). Even links between Chaco Canyon and the many sites we now call outliers were generally ignored or denied (see Judge 1991: 14). One exception involved theories regarding Mesoamerican influence in the Southwest, although the nature of the debate (either developments such as Chaco were caused by Mesoamerican traders or they were not) probably did not help archaeologists to think about alternative and more subtle forms of interaction (see summary in Wilcox 1986).

Regional interaction in the prehistoric Southwest finally became an important issue in the 1970s when archaeologists came to realize that even the least-complex societies could not exist in isolation (Wobst 1974) and the study of exchange became a major research topic (Earle and Ericson 1977; Ford 1972). In the Southwest, widespread pottery exchange was documented in many instances (e.g., Deutchman 1980; Doyel 1979; Plog 1980; Toll, Windes, and McKenna 1980 [see summary in Toll 1991]; Warren 1969). Chaco and the Hohokam came to be seen as regional systems (Judge and Schelberg 1984; Wilcox 1979; see Neitzel, Chapter 2, this volume) composed of a number of interacting but geographically separate communities that exchanged goods and services and perhaps participated in a common ritual system. In addition, exchange as well as other kinds of political linkages became a central component of many explanatory and synthetic models (e.g., Cordell and Plog 1979; Di Peso 1974; Plog 1983; Upham 1982). Techniques of regional analysis, derived primarily from geography (see Johnson 1977; Smith 1976), were applied in various areas of the Southwest (e.g., Jewett 1989; Lightfoot 1984; Upham 1982).

Most studies of regional interaction in the Southwest focused on later and larger-scale manifestations, and to some extent studies of largescale interaction became linked to arguments regarding sociopolitical complexity (Upham, Lightfoot, and Jewett 1989). Especially in recent years, however, extensive and complicated forms of interaction have been documented for systems that do not necessarily involve sociopolitical hierarchies, such as the spread of Salado Polychrome and Plains-Pueblo exchange (Crown 1994; Spielmann 1991a). Earlier and less complex forms of regional interaction are also receiving growing attention (e.g., Amick, Chapter 6, this volume; Blinman and Wilson 1992; Hegmon et al. 1997; Plog 1986; Rautman 1993; Wills 1988). Although debate about the nature of regional interaction and its relationship to various organizational forms continues, there is probably little doubt today that regional interaction is a factor that must be reckoned with and considered for almost all times and places in the prehistoric Southwest. There may have been some autonomous communities that produced all of their own pottery and did not participate in exchange, but their existence must be demonstrated empirically (Kojo 1996).

Since the 1980s, regional approaches to the study of southwestern prehistory have taken a new approach that perhaps reflects the underlying prevalence of concern with regional interaction. Although textbooks and popular summaries have long covered large areas of the Southwest, this large-scale approach is increasingly becoming a part of recent professional literature as well. Specifically, a general synthesis (Cordell and Gumerman 1989) and a synthesis of the Pueblo III period (Adler 1996) both include chapters covering most parts of the Southwest. In a different vein, authors familiar with various areas of the Southwest combined efforts to address a number of themes from a pan-southwestern perspective (Gumerman 1994). Also, at a recent conference on engendering southwestern prehistory (Crown 1997), researchers focused on a variety of issues, drawing data from across the Southwest and comparing and contrasting different regions. Not all of this recent work focuses on interaction per se, although interaction is a specific focus of some chapters (e.g., Cordell, Doyel, and Kintigh 1994; McGuire et al. 1994; Spielmann 1997; Upham, Crown, and Plog 1994). Rather, recent approaches are underlain by the assumption that regional interaction is always a potential factor; we cannot understand developments in one area without knowing something about other areas.

In a recent synthesis, Hegmon and Plog (1996) identified four dimensions of regional interaction in the prehistoric Southwest—the exchange of information, the exchange of material goods, sociopolitical relations, and the movement of people. In preparation for this volume and the 1996 Southwest Symposium, authors and session organizers were asked to focus on problems and gaps identified by Hegmon and Plog. These are primarily issues relating—in various ways—to the first two dimensions—that is, to the spread, distribution, and exchange of information (including styles as well as ideational systems) and material.

The third dimension—sociopolitical relations—can obviously never be ignored, since such relations underlie interactions of all sorts. Sociopolitical relations, however, receive little explicit focus here because they have been discussed extensively in recent literature, including debates about prehistoric complexity (see summary in Hegmon and Plog 1996; also Upham, Lightfoot, and Jewett 1989) and explorations of the Chaco and Hohokam regional systems (Crown and Judge 1991; Doyel 1992). One exception is warfare and violence as a form of regional sociopolitical interaction. Although evidence for violence in various areas of the prehistoric Southwest has been accumulating in recent years (see summary in Wilcox and Haas 1994; also Sutton, Chapter 14, this volume), Steven LeBlanc (Chapter 3, this volume) is probably the first to consider warfare as a form of regional and interregional interaction at a pan-southwestern scale.

The fourth dimension—the movement of people—is not typically classified as a type of regional interaction, although it (particularly the depopulation of large areas) has been subject to a large amount of recent research in a manner compatible with understanding such movements to be a form of regional and interregional interaction (e.g., Cameron 1995; Fish et al. 1994; Hegmon, Nelson, and Ruth 1998). Specifically, consideration of large (regional or interregional) scales contributes to an understanding of "pull" as well as "push" factors and focuses attention on relations between the people who leave an area and people already living in the areas where they settled (see Lipe 1995).

Research on the first two dimensions (the exchange of information and material) has not been lacking in the prehistoric Southwest. However, the Hegmon and Plog (1996) summary, as well as a number of other statements (e.g., Schortman and Urban 1987) suggest that although archaeologists are increasingly able to trace and document the movement of material and the spread of styles and other kinds of information, we often know little about the nature of the underlying social interactions. One basic question has to do with the term exchange. Authors were asked to consider whether goods actually moved through exchange or by other means. In this volume and in the literature in general, researchers working in areas or periods characterized by a high degree of mobility tend to be the most cautious about assuming that goods moved through exchange (e.g., Amick, Upham, Lyneis, Talbot, Chapters 6, 11, 12, 13, this volume), and we suggest that some of these same cautions should be applied much more widely. Furthermore, even if we can be sure that goods moved between populations (i.e., that they were not carried by migrating populations [see Zedeño 1994]), can we be sure they were actually exchanged? Exchanged for what? What kinds of social relations are involved in the exchanges? These questions are explored primarily in the chapters in Part 2.

Problems regarding the nature of interactions are even more complicated for nonmaterial distributions. How do archaeologically identified regions or other spatial divisions relate to prehistoric cultural identity and social boundaries? How might boundaries change over time? Is a shared style simply an indication of a general cultural tradition (isochrestic variation [Sackett 1982]), or might it be an expression of a political alliance (Plog 1983)? We know material differences (even when they do correspond to ethnic differences) do not preclude interaction (e.g., Hodder 1982; Spielmann 1991b), but what is the nature of interaction within and across boundaries? When we observe simultaneous developments or the "diffusion" of a style or ideational system, what kinds of processes or mechanisms were involved (see McGuire et al. 1994: 246)? What is the role of language in these processes? These issues are explored in various ways throughout the volume. Boundaries and the definition of regions are given explicit focus in the first part, which is on the concept of regions and regional systems, and in the third, which reaches beyond the borders of the traditional Southwest. Chapters in these sections also address macroregional processes and changes. Finally, the fourth section explores the spread of a particular kind of information—religion—and the associated processes of regional interaction.

Finally, several issues need to be addressed before we briefly summarize the volume. The first is the meaning of "region" or "regional" (see also Duff, Chapter 4, this volume). The term region lacks a precise definition in Southwest archaeology (Fish et al. 1994: 137). It almost always means something larger than a single valley or locality, and it most often refers to a major topographic and also often ceramic division. Thus region is generally synonymous with Colton's (1939) "branches," although different from the Gladwins' (1934) branches. In addition, regional is sometimes used to mean the large-scale (Pueblo, Mogollon, Hohokam) divisions (e.g., Hegmon and Plog 1996) or, alternatively, the Southwest as a whole (e.g., Dean, Doelle, and Orcutt 1994). In general, regional is used here to refer to a scale corresponding to major geographic subdivisions (e.g., Kayenta, Virgin, Mimbres, Tucson Basin) that are smaller than the largest-scale (Pueblo, Mogollon, Hohokam) divisions of the Southwest. The interpretation of regions (Are they merely geographic divisions, or do they represent cultural entities or systems of interaction?) is considered in more detail in Part 1.

The second issue has to do with scale. It is probably always good for archaeologists to have the big—regional, interregional, pan-southwestern, macroregional—picture in mind. This big-picture approach is a major unifying theme of this volume and of other recent work, as discussed previously. An important concept in this regard is what Marquardt and Crumley (1987: 2) call the "effective scale" of research— that is, "any scale at which pattern may be recognized or meaning inferred" (see McGuire et al. 1994: 244). We would argue that for more and more issues of interest in southwestern prehistory one very effective scale is regional or larger. This is not to say that all meaningful analyses must be regional but rather that many issues—such as abandonment or the appearance of a new style—gain new meaning when viewed at a large geographic scale and that consideration of multiple scales may be particularly meaningful. For example, in a sweeping analysis Dean and colleagues (1994: 77) concluded that there was poor correspondence between population levels and environmental variability at a large (pan-Southwest) scale and that "demographic responses to environmental factors take place primarily on the local ... level." Similarly, Varien's (1999) analyses of households, communities, and the central Mesa Verde region was enhanced by his simultaneous consideration of all three scales—for example, his conclusion that household mobility took place in the context of community stability and regional packing.

Finally, the chapters in this volume—and archaeological work on regional interaction in general—address myriad topics and include some considerations of cultural meanings. Despite the emphasis on understanding interaction across space, however, these archaeological approaches pay little heed to the concept of place as used by many social-cultural geographers and growing numbers of ethnographers (e.g., Appadurai 1988; Feld and Basso 1996; Rodman 1992; Soja 1989). "Places are constructed and experienced as material and ecological artefacts and intricate networks of social relations.... They are an intense focus of discursive activity, filled with symbolic and representational meanings, and they are a distinctive product of institutionalized social and political-economic power" (Harvey 1996: 316). Archaeologists may have a great deal to gain by considering the extent to which space is socially constructed, the links between social and spatial relations, and the ways in which certain places—where certain structures were erected or significant events occurred—become imbued with special meaning and thus affect the use of the landscape for generations to come. Although not all nuances of meaning and social constructs will be accessible to archaeological analysis, a number of Southwest archaeologists have made important insights regarding the meaning of certain places, the structure of landscapes, and the relationship between social and spatial structures (e.g., Ferguson 1996; Stein and Fowler 1992; Varien 1999). Our point here is simply that these kinds of approaches should be applied at a larger spatial-regional scale, and we hope the chapters that follow will provide some material that can be considered in this way.

Overview of the Volume

Part 1 focuses on two interrelated questions. The first involves understanding the kinds of actions and processes that create the patterning in material remains archaeologists recognize as regions or regional systems (Neitzel, LeBlanc, Duff, Creamer, Chapters 2, 3, 4, 5). The second expands the scope of analysis to consider developments at a much larger pan-southwestern scale (LeBlanc, Amick, Chapters 3, 6). An underlying theme, especially of Amick's analysis of Folsom Paleoindian remains, is the interactive relationship between culture and the "natural" environment (see Crumley 1994). People classify and categorize landscape features, creating their own cultural landscape even as they alter their physical environment to fit their needs.

Neitzel begins with a general discussion of the concept of regional systems. She argues that although the concept originally directed archaeologists' attention toward understanding diversity and social interaction, it is now applied so widely that it is losing its meaning. We need to move beyond the concept and focus on understanding the kinds of interactions that produced what have come to be called regions and regional systems. Specifically, Neitzel suggests that we begin by examining the differential distributions of the various styles and artifacts classes that characterize a region, suggestions that are applied in later chapters.


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Meet the Author

Michelle Hegmon is a professor in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change at Arizona State University.

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