Page under construction
and concept testing
Context. First and foremost, the organizational context
of the Ansazi was their environment. They were one of the
people of mesa tops and canyons of the rugged, arid greater
Four Corners area of the United States. Mesa Verde and Cedar
(opposite) are two of the famous concentrations of Anasazi
known by their association with mesas, initially and especially
the mesa tops and the verdant side canyons off of them.
We explore here, the Anasazi context.
mesa tops and the flood plains of the side canyons initially
provided subsistence through hunting and gather and, beginning
in the Basketmaker II periods of the Puebloan chronology
of the Greater Four Corners area, first floodplain and then
upland dry farming, and catch dam irrigation.
Chaco Canyon is identified by the arid canyon in which it
is located. Keet Seel is infamous, perhaps, for the eight
and a half mileand 1,000 foot elevation changeTsegi
Canyon approach (lower right) one needs to walk to reach
the village. (The story is told by rangers of a tourist,
years ago, who wondered why the Anasazi built their dwellings
so far from roads.)
canyons provided the creeks, floodplains and permanent streams
that allowed cultivated crops: that first sense that human
beings could control their environment, with the help of
their gods. From this ability to feed more people at the
same location, for a time, arose greater concentrations
of people, the physical structures to house them, and the
division of labor that was possible to support artisans
and administrative and religious centers. From this also
appears evidence of class differences that seem to naturally
castle, one of the six groups at Hovenweep, is apparently
such a religious and administrative center. Archeologist
reach this conclusion due to the relative lack of middens,
trash deposits, and the characteristics of the unexcavated
ruins below the "castles" that rise up from the
bedrock on which they were built. Pueblos Bonita in Chaco
Canyon and Cliff Palace, on Mesa Verde, each now appear
to be similar administrative centers because there is little
evidence of habitation: hearths and middens.
Anasazi were ingenious, though constrained by their environment
or "organizational context," as are all organizations.
If you look closely at the photo
detail of Keet Seel at left, note the keyhole-shaped
kiva in the middle and relatively crude construction
of the rooms
on the right along the street, but the ingenious retaining
wall that supports the streets and the rooms on the left.
talks with one archeologist, he points to the lack of easily
shapeable sandstone for the relatively crude Kayenta construction.
Certainly the size of Keet Seel (possibly the largest residential
Pueblo), the ingenuity of its retaining wall, and other
unique innovations, such as the elbow deflector system,
point to sophisticated engineering and social organization.
particularly intriguing that Keet Seel was constructed in
stages as new family groupings or clans arrived independently.
Construction dates and the number of kivas at Keet Seel
point to the acceptance of news groups into the village.
The amount of presumably cooperative social action to lay
the foundations, receive new comers, and maintain the whole
might serve as a powerful example of organizational action,
we learn more.
Keet Seel experience was perhaps a more intense experience
than the more normal pattern of family groups occupying
and adapting previously constructed and abandoned pueblos.
My favorite example is probably Salmon Ruin, where families
journeyed 60 miles northeast from Chaco Canyon to build
an outlier on the style of Pueblo Bonito between A.D. 1088
and 1094. They
abandoned the pueblo two to three generations later. The
pueblo stood empty for some 50 years until families from
Mesa Verde reoccupied it temporarily and adapted it. The
Kiva to the right is a classic example of this adaptation
process. If one looks closely
at its construction, one will see that it is a circular
Kiva, Mesa Verde-style, built within a rectangular room
on the Pueblo Bonito style.
the square walls overlooking Bullet Canyon, part of Grand
Gulch, Cedar Mesa was probably a watchtower.
of concept test to date. We truly believe in learning
and growth in all that we do. Your comments or questions
about this site, its content, and implications are important
to us. Please drop us a line.
we also welcome inquiries about our capabilities
and services. All services and programs are individually
tailored, and you may inquire without obligation to discuss
how we might be of service.