PhD Dissertations: Robert James Muir, 1999

Zooarchaeology of Sand Canyon Pueblo, Colorado

In this study analyses of faunal remains are employed to investigate environmental, economic, social, and ideological factors associated with the emergence of a large aggregated Pueblo town in southwestern Colorado, during the Pueblo III Period (ca. 1100-1300 A.D.). Detailed spatial analyses of fauna recovered from Sand Canyon Pueblo and comparisons to fourteen other sites in the Sand Canyon Locality indicate several distinct patterns consistent with changes in the location, scale, and organization of subsistence and ritual activities from the 'early' to 'late' Pueblo III Period. Specifically, utilization of turkey appears to intensify throughout the locality, while the distribution of artiodactyls, birds of prey, and other wild birds become increasingly spatially restricted within and among communities through time. These latter taxa are initially distributed broadly throughout sites in the locality, but by the 'late' Pueblo III Period are found to be concentrated within specific structures at Sand Canyon Pueblo.

It is argued here that the changes in frequency and distribution of faunal remains indicate that significant social and economic reorganization accompanied the development of the large aggregated community of Sand Canyon Pueblo. In particular, there appears to be evidence of increased centralization, scale, and perhaps control of ritualized subsistence events, such as communal hunting. These activities appear to have been organized by specific individuals, households, or societies at Sand Canyon Pueblo.

In conclusion it is suggested that increased competition for limited wild resources, due to regional population increases, prompted the need (or desire) to pool labor and knowledge. An integrated communal effort may have been perceived to be a means of reducing risk of subsistence failure in an increasingly competitive economic environment. The coordination of communal ritual events at Sand Canyon Pueblo, may have acted as a mechanism to encourage co-operation, group unity, and community identity within the locality. In turn, this would facilitate activities requiring large groups, such as communal hunts.