The archaeological measures and social implications of agricultural commitment

TitleThe archaeological measures and social implications of agricultural commitment
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication1996
AuthorsWelch, J
Academic DepartmentAnthropology
UniversityUniversity of Arizona
KeywordsFort Apache Indian Reservation, Mogollon culture, White Mountain Apache Tribe

This is a case study of the causes and consequences of the shift from a forager-farmer adaptive strategy to village agriculture in the Southwest's mountainous Transition Zone. The earliest inventions and adoptions of agriculture have attracted a steady stream of archaeological research, but far less attention has been given to the subsequent change to dietary dependence on and organizational dedication to food production--agricultural commitment. Although there is little doubt that the Southwest's large villages and small towns were committed to successful farming, methodological and conceptual problems have impeded archaeological analyses of the ecological and evolutionary implications of this revolutionary shift in how people related to the world and to one another. The rapid and radical change that occurred in the Transition Zone's Grasshopper Region during the late AD 1200s and early 1300s provides a high resolution glimpse at the processes and products of agricultural commitment--notably increasing reliance on farming and the development of permanent towns and institutionalized systems for resource and conflict management. The model proposed for the Grasshopper Region involves population immigration and aggregation leading to increased agricultural reliance and related changes in settlement and subsistence ecology as well as social organization. Critical issues involve the ecological, social, and theoretical significance of these shifts, the methodological capacity to track dietary, settlement, and organizational change archaeologically, and the implications for understanding Western Pueblo social development in terms of seeing the Grasshopper occupation as an experiment in agriculturally-focused village life.