M.A. Theses: Chelsea L.W. Dunk, 2006

An Archaeobotanical Investigation of Shields Pueblo's (5MT3807) Pueblo II Period

This research is a palaeoethnobotanical study of human-plant interactions at Shields Pueblo (5MT3807), a large multi-component site located in the central Mesa Verde region of the American Southwest. The research explores people's plant use during the Pueblo II period (A.D. 900-1150), a time of environmental change and population fluctuation. Archaeobotanical remains were used to identify the suite of plants collected and utilised by the Pueblo's inhabitants and to determine if the composition of the assemblage varied temporally and spatially. Shields Pueblo's archaeobotonical remians showed that the inhabitants grew crops and collect wild plants from a variety of local plant communities e.g., woodlands and grasslands. The presence of a drought at the terminus of the Pueblo II period and the expansion of regional populations throughout the period is reflected in the assemblage by an increased dependence on wild plants. Shields Pueblo's archaeobotanical assemblage also showed evidence of spatial variation that may be due to factors such as differential access to plants, plant communities, and variation in household structure use. For results to be comparable with similar studies in the American Southwest, the 'species area curve' sub-sampling technique was applied. This technique was evaluated and determined to be an adequate method for characterising what taxa are present in an archaeobotanical assemblage; however some guidelines for the application of this method were identified. The results of this thesis are invaluable in that the American Soutwest is an intensively studied region, although palaeoethnobotanical studies of the Pueblo II period are limited.