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Proposed theories for American Southwest dissappearance of Anasazi: Despite their considerable social, political, and architec - Essay Example

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There has long been much mystery surrounding the ancestors of today’s Pueblo Indians. We do not even know what they called themselves. The Navajo called them Anasazi meaning ‘ancient ones’ or ‘ancient enemies’ The term Anasazi passed into popular usage though the term Ancient Puebloans is preferred today…
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Proposed theories for American Southwest dissappearance of Anasazi: Despite their considerable social, political, and architec
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Download file to see previous pages Geological Survey, encountered and described several of the ruins of Chaco. Following Simpson’s expedition the inscrutable ruins excited curiosity about their origin and the destiny of their creators. To this day, the reasons for the abandonment of Chaco Canyon remain within the realm of guesswork despite great advances in archeological techniques and on-going scholarly debate (Neusius 378). The Chaco Canyon represents a magnificent culture, which included large, planned towns, a complex irrigation-system, contour farming, trade with Mexico, roadways reaching many miles and solar observations. Yet the builders of this advanced culture, chose to seal up their buildings, uproot their entire community and abandon their amazing building it to the elements, never to return. Indeed, the Ancient Puebloan sites were carefully planned and laid out to align with celestial events such as lunar and solar cycles (Mystery of Chaco Canyon gpb.org) Serious efforts to solve this puzzle and to understand the Anasazi culture began with the excavations of 1896, when an Colorado rancher and amateur archeologist with an obsession with the enchanting and mysterious ruins named Richard Wetherill moved to Chaco Canyon. By the turn of the 20th Century the main contours of a theory to account for the disappearance of the Chaco Anasazi had been established. An encyclopedia published within a decade of the first serious excavations began; “(the natives) left their homes on account of drought and the consequent failure of crops, through superstition, the depredations of enemies, etc….village after village being successively built, occupied and abandoned before the final settlement was made” (Encyclopedia Americana, 1905). In recent times population growth and societal change have been added to the list. Let us look now in detail at the various explanations that have been offered. Most likely, the environment simply could not support the natives any longer and migration was chosen as the best option for survival. Migration was not an alien concept for the Anasazi and their neighbors and has always been an option for stressed groups living under harsh conditions (Neusius 370). The transition from a nomadic to a sedentary lifestyle was never complete with the Ancestral Pueblo. The Chaco Canyon villages perhaps represented more of a semi-nomadic lifestyle rather than a fully sedentary one. With the exception of Chaco Canyon, most Anasazi sites were occupied for only 35 to 40 years before the depletion of local resources due to overuse, or drought-induced famine, forced a move. Archeology has revealed that many small villages were built, occupied, abandoned, rebuilt or destroyed by fire constantly. Agriculture, in fact, may not have been a permanent pattern (Fagan p.101). The pressures on a stressed people to move were many. Archeological evidence shows that the migration of the Ancient Puebloans out of Chaco Canyon did not occur suddenly but rather involved a lengthy process beginning in the mid-12th century and not completed until 1300. This migration was not a sudden flight but occurred in stages, as the Chaco Canyon Anasazi slowly migrated and moved in various directions. Population pressures could have resulted in other problems as well. The population at Chaco had doubled during the Classic Bonito phase from the earlier Pueblo II period (920-1020), bringing the population up to as much as 6,000 people living in 400 settlements ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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