Social Networks in the Distant Past

Archaeology Southwest Magazine Vol. 27, No. 2

Issue editor: Matthew A. Peeples, Archaeology Southwest.

Read Of Ancient Networks and Bacon Numbers, Matt’s blog post about this issue, here.

Archaeology Southwest Magazine, Vol. 27, No. 2

Cover image: Twill-plaited H-strap sandal made of agave fiber, Arizona State Museum catalog number GP 6439. Archaeologists recovered this sandal from the Hog Hill Ruin, a site in the upper Verde River valley of north-central Arizona. Similar examples came from the Tonto Cliff Dwellings, Canyon Creek Ruin, and the Red Bow site in the Point of Pines region. All date between 1300 and about 1400. Experts feel that this style of sandal may reflect a more southerly tradition, and similar examples seem to be depicted in sixteenth-century Mesoamerican codices. Image: Jannelle Weakly, courtesy of the Arizona State Museum, University of Arizona. Consultants: Laurie D. Webster and G. M. Jacobs. Trail and landscape at Quail Point, a rock art site in the lower Gila River valley. Image: Andy Laurenzi. Cover design: Kathleen Bader.

In the age of Facebook and Twitter, “social network” is a phrase heard or read almost daily. Most of our readers will have a general concept of social networks through their familiarity with these communication tools. Yet, social networks are a mainstay of the human experience, not a product of new technologies.

Articles in this issue describe analyses conducted by Southwest Social Networks (SWSN) project team members using the SWSN database and social network analysis methods. Although these analyses draw on somewhat different techniques and evidence, they all center on related questions. How did patterns of interaction and exchange change through time at local and regional scales? How might the structure and organization of networks of interaction among settlements have influenced the long-term success or failure of settlements or regions? How did the arrival of a relatively small number of northern immigrants to the mountains and deserts of the southern Southwest affect the network landscape of the region as a whole?

Acronyms Used in This Issue

CCD: Coalescent Communities Database (see pages 5 and 24), a precursor to the SWSN Database

GIS: Geographic Information System (see pages 7–8), an integrated computerized system for storing, mapping, and analyzing geographic data. In practice, GIS can refer to a database itself or to analyses performed on the data therein, as in “a GIS database” or “using GIS techniques.”

SNA: Social network analysis (see page 3), a group of tools derived from the mathematical field of graph theory and used to systematically examine social interactions

SWSN: Southwest Social Networks (project and database), the subject of this issue

XRF: X-ray fluorescence spectrometry (see pages 14–15), a technique that uses a special instrument to acquire elemental data in artifacts, providing information about the provenance of analyzed samples

Social Networks in the Distant Past: The Late Precontact SouthwestBarbara J. Mills, Jeffery J. Clark, Matthew A. Peeples, W. R. Haas, Jr., John M. Roberts, Jr., J. Brett Hill, Deborah L. Huntley, Lewis Borck, Ronald L. Breiger, Aaron Clauset, and M. Steven Shackley

To view a digital video of Matt Peeples’s Archaeology Café presentation on the project, click here.

To have WolframAlpha report your personal Facebook analytics, click here.

From Wikimedia Commons: Lorenzo de’ Medici as a teenager. Fresco by Benozzo Gozzoli, in the “Cappella dei Magi,” at Palazzo Medici Riccardi in Florence, Italy.

For further reading:

Hill, J. Brett, Jeffrey J. Clark, William H. Doelle, and Patrick D. Lyons

2004  Prehistoric Demography in the Southwest: Migration, Coalescence, and Hohokam Population Decline. American Antiquity 69(4):689–716.

Mills, Barbara J., Jeffery J. Clark, Matthew A. Peeples, W. R. Haas, Jr., John M. Roberts, Jr., J. Brett Hill, Deborah L. Huntley, Lewis Borck, Ronald L. Breiger, Aaron Clauset, and M. Steven Shackley

2013  The Transformation of Social Networks in the Late Pre-Hispanic U.S. Southwest. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 110(15):5785–5790.

Mills, Barbara J., John M. Roberts Jr., Jeffery J. Clark, William R. Haas Jr., Deborah Huntley, Matthew A. Peeples, Lewis Borck, Susan C. Ryan, Meaghan Trowbridge, and Ronald L. Breiger

2013 The Dynamics of Social Networks in the Late Prehistoric U.S. Southwest. In Network Analysis in Archaeology, edited by Carl Knappett, pp. 185–206. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Peeples, Matthew A. and John M. Roberts, Jr.

2013  To Binarize or Not to Binarize: Relational Data and the Construction of Archaeological Networks. Journal of Archaeological Science 40(7):3001–3010.

Roberts, John M., Jr., Barbara J. Mills, Jeffery J. Clark, W. Randall Haas, Jr., Deborah L. Huntley and Meaghan A. Trowbridge

2012  A Method for Chronological Apportioning of Ceramic Assemblages. Journal of Archaeological Science 39(5):1513–1520.

Proximity: What role did nearness play in creating social networks?

Lead investigators: J. Brett Hill and Deborah Huntley

For further reading:

Hill, Brett

1995  Ecological Variability and Economic Specialization. Master’s Thesis, Arizona State University

Pottery: How do decorated ceramics enable us to reconstruct social networks?

Lead investigator: Barbara J. Mills

To download information about the pottery illustrated on page 10, click here (opens as a PDF).

To download our standardized list of ceramic ware and type names, click here (PDF) or here (Excel).

Edward S. Curtis, Zuni Potter (1903), at the Library of Congress

Helga Teiwes’s images of the Tohono O’odham Polychrome Pottery Making Study at the Arizona Memory Project

An online exhibition of Helga Teiwes’s work at the Arizona State Museum

For further reading:

Mills, Barbara J., John M. Roberts Jr., Jeffery J. Clark, William R. Haas Jr., Deborah Huntley, Matthew A. Peeples, Lewis Borck, Susan C. Ryan, Meaghan Trowbridge, and Ronald L. Breiger

2013 The Dynamics of Social Networks in the Late Prehistoric U.S. Southwest. In Network Analysis in Archaeology, edited by Carl Knappett, pp. 185–206. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

SPECIAL: Animated network maps

Obsidian: What does a sudden expansion in its exchange imply?

Lead investigators: Jeffery J. Clark and M. Steven Shackley

Website for M. Steven Shackley’s Geoarchaeological XRF Laboratory

For further reading:

Shackley, M. S.

2005 Obsidian: Geology and Archaeology in the North American Southwest. University of Arizona Press, Tucson.

Brokers: Where were the middlemen? What was their role?

Lead investigators: Matthew A. Peeples and W. Randall Haas Jr.

For further reading:

Peeples, Matthew A. and W. Randall Haas Jr.

2013  Brokerage and Social Capital in the Prehispanic U.S. Southwest. American Anthropologist 115(2):232–246.

Internal and External Relations: Why were some groups less vulnerable to crises?

Lead investigator: Lewis Borck

Dorothea Lange image of car on Highway 99 (1936) at the Library of Congress

Dorothea Lange image of drought-stricken corn (1936) at the Library of Congress

Who was the Reverend Henry Melvill?

Interactions in Turbulent Times: Insights Revealed by Social Network Analyses

Official website of the Hopi Tribe

Official website of the Zuni Tribe

Timothy H. O’Sullivan image of Zuni Pueblo (1873) at the Library of Congress

Archaeology Southwest Magazine Vol. 22, No. 4 — Immigrants and Population Collapse in the Southern Southwest

Archaeology Southwest Magazine Vol. 26, Nos. 3 and 4 — A Complicated Pattern

Collaborations: More Than the Sum of Their Parts

The Southwest Social Networks project seminar page at the School for Advanced Research

Dr. Linda Cordell’s obituary at the School for Advanced Research

The official website of the National Academy of Sciences

Why were Mills and Trowbridge wading in the river? Because the land vegetation was essentially impassable, and the river provided the easiest access to the sites of interest!

Food for Thought: Leonhard Euler’s Seven Bridges of Königsberg on Wikipedia


Back SightWilliam H. Doelle, Archaeology Southwest

New York Times, January 3, 2016: Untangling an Accounting Tool and and Ancient Incan Mystery

Wikipedia on quipus

From Wikimedia Commons: Sketch of a Quipucamayoc from El primer nueva corónica y buen gobierno (The First New Chronicle and Good Government), a chronicle of Inca history by the indigenous Inca historian Felipe Guaman Poma de Ayala (ca. 1535–1616)

Circa fifteenth-century quipu at the Larco Museum (Museo Larco), Lima, Peru — Food for Thought: This database could have been in use as the Medici rose to power and at the same time as the later parts of turbulent period we examine in the SWSN project

The Heritage Southwest Database

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