Introduction to Southwestern Archaeology

Guide to Archaeology Southwest Resources

Are you new to learning about archaeology in the Southwest? Or seeking a refresher on the major concepts, places, cultures, and themes that Southwestern archaeologists are exploring today? Welcome! This guide is for you. Below you will find a curated compilation of featured Archaeology Southwest Magazine back issues, videos, blog posts, fact sheets, and other Archaeology Southwest online resources.

A majority of these resources are free to Archaeology Southwest members and nonmembers alike, but magazines that were published within the past five years are free to members only (these are indicated with an asterisk *). Not yet a member? Join today to enjoy all of these resources, among other member benefits.

Are you an educator? We will gladly work with you to assemble these (or other) Archaeology Southwest Magazine back-issues into one low-cost digital bundle for your students. Contact Kathleen Bader for more information.

 

An Introduction and Overview


Become familiar with the basic archaeological themes and time lines of the Southwest.

What is Preservation Archaeology? Vol. 25, No. 4 and Vol. 26, No. 1 (Fall 2011/Winter 2012)

This issue covers the history and basic tenets of the Preservation Archaeology ethic, with a look to real-world examples of Preservation Archaeology in practice.

Some helpful time lines:

Other resources

 

Paleoindian through Archaic


Find out what archaeologists are learning about the peopling of the New World, the big-game hunters of the Folsom and Clovis cultures, and the hunters and gatherers from the Archaic period.

Rethinking the Peopling of the Americas. Vol. 14, No. 2 (Spring 2000)

This issue looks at the peopling of the new world. From rock art to tools and linguistics to genetics, this issue is a must read for anyone interested in the origins of people in the Americas.

Paleoindians in the American Southwest and Northern Mexico. Vol. 23, No. 3 (Summer 2009)

This issue reviews some of the big picture questions in Paleoindian research today: Who were the first peoples to reach the Americas? When did they arrive? What was the relationship between the makers of Clovis spear points and the extinction of megafauna?

See also:

Other resources:

 

Early Agricultural


Learn about the Southwest’s earliest farmers and village settlers.

The Latest Research on the Earliest Farmers. Vol. 23, No. 1 (Winter 2009)

This issue explores what we’re learning about the first farmers in the Southwest, including the beginnings of maize agriculture, paleoenvironmental reconstructions, stream reach boundaries, the Las Capas site, food provisioning and foraging, the health of early agriculturalists, the La Playa site, the Four Corners region during the agricultural transition, perishable artifacts and social boundaries, and social and ideological changes.

A New Way of Living. Vol. 27, No. 4 (Fall 2013)

This issue explores the transition to village life on the southern Colorado Plateau prior to about 900 CE. How did the mobile foragers of the Archaic period (7000–1500 BCE) ultimately become the village farmers we recognize as the ancestors of today’s Pueblo people?

See also:

Other resources:

 

Archaeological Cultures


Learn about the regional differences that emerged by about 2,000 years ago across the Southwest. Archaeologists have defined these regional differences as culture areas.

Hohokam

* Tucson Underground. Vol. 32, No. 4 (Fall 2018)

This issue explores communities in the Tucson Basin across some 4,000 years. Tucson presents us all with an opportunity to understand this place in light of that deep heritage, reflected in archaeological sites, ancient fields, well-trodden trails, surrounding rock art, and the rich histories and traditions of O’odham people. More recent centuries are also attested by the material records of missionaries, European colonists, families of Mexican descent, and Euro-American settlers.

In the Mountain Shadows. Vol. 27, No. 1 (Winter 2013)

This issue explores what life was like for the people who lived in the Tucson Basin between A.D. 500 and 1450. The Romero Ruin at Catalina State Park tells part of their story, while also reflecting a bigger picture of Hohokam life.

* Phoenix Underground. Vol. 31, Nos. 2 & 3 (Spring and Summer 2017)

Contributors to this new issue in our “Underground” series share archaeology in and around Phoenix, Arizona.

Hohokam Heritage: The Casa Grande Community. Vol. 23, No. 4 (Fall 2009)

This issue of reviews the historical background of the Casa Grande Ruins National Monument and provides a broader archaeological context for thinking about the monument’s expansion.

Other Resources:

 

Mogollon: Highlands, Mimbres, and Casas Grandes

* The Site That Nobody Really Knows. Vol. 30, No. 1 (Winter 2016)

Kinishba, the site that nobody really knows—even though it is among the most extensively excavated, rebuilt, and visited sites in the American Southwest. In 2003, a box of previously unexamined documents came to light, reawakening research on the pueblo and its inhabitants.

The Upper Little Colorado River Region. Vol. 16, No. 3 (Summer 2002)

This issue looks at the history of archaeological research in the Upper Little Colorado River Region of the Northern Southwest.

The Archaeology and Meaning of Mimbres. Vol. 17, No. 4 (Fall 2003)

Due to the incredible artistry of their black-on-white pottery the Mimbres are one of the most popular prehistoric cultures in the Southwest. This issue explores the full range of topics of this fascinating group.

* Mimbres Preservation, Pithouses, Pueblos, and Pottery. Vol. 31, No. 1 (Winter 2017)

This issue shows how preservation intersects with the cutting edges of Mimbres archaeology today.

The Casas Grandes Community. Vol. 17, No. 2 (Spring 2003)

Even though an international boundary divides the U.S. and Mexico today, the cultures of the past span across this modern boundary. This issue looks at the archaeology of the Southwest in Northern Mexico

Other resources:

 

Sinagua

A Good Place to Live for More Than 12,000 Years. Vol. 28, No. 2 (Spring 2014)

Today, people relocate to Sedona and Oak Creek for the breathtaking views and agreeable climate. But this issue shows us that, because of its reliable water supply and varied ecology, central Arizona’s Verde Valley has drawn residents for more than 120 centuries.

In the Shadow of the Volcano. Vol. 17, No. 1 (Winter 2003)

Sunset Crater is one of Flagstaff’s most visible natural features. This issue explores the history of this volcano and its impact on the people who have lived there.

Other Resources:

 

Trincheras and Beyond

* The Archaeology of Sonora. Vol. 30, No. 3 (Summer, 2016)

Issue editors and long-time co-investigators Randy McGuire and Elisa Villalpando and their colleagues give an introduction to the archaeology of Sonora, a state in northwest Mexico that shares millennia of human experience with the southern U.S. Southwest.

Other resources:

 

Patayan

The Great Bend of the Gila. Vol. 25, No. 1 (Winter 2011)

This issue presents several thousand years of human history along the Great Bend of the Gila River. It taps the records of early travelers and archaeologists to reveal some of the hidden history of a unique, sometimes overlooked cultural landscape.

Other resources:

 

Ancestral Pueblo: Chaco, the Four Corners, and Beyond

* Chacoan Archaeology at the 21st Century. Vol. 32, Nos. 2 & 3 (Spring and Summer, 2018)

Even after more than 100 years of scrutiny and debate, Chaco still captivates archaeologists and the public like few other places in the Southwest. The Chaco World is still being studied at all scales and perspectives, and with new scientific and analytical methods.

Chaco’s Legacy. Vol. 28, No. 1 (Winter 2014)

This issue considers whether ancient Chacoans migrated to the Middle San Juan Basin, or the region’s residents emulated Chacoan culture, or both.

Social Identity in the Northern San Juan. Vol. 24, No. 3 (Summer 2010)

This issue looks at social identity in the northern Southwest. Articles cover landscape use, social identity and relationships among different groups in the northern Southwest.

Tortuous and Fantastic. Vol. 28, Nos. 3 & 4 (Summer and Fall, 2014)

Greater Cedar Mesa’s archaeological record documents thousands of years of human innovation, change, and movement. The rock art, buildings, and artifacts left by the people who made this landscape their own enable today’s visitors to understand something of those past lives.

* Sacred and Threatened. Vol. 31, No. 4 and Vol. 32, No. 1 (Fall 2017 and Winter 2018)

Focusing on the cultural landscapes of the Bears Ears region, this issue demonstrates the urgency of preservation goals, with an emphasis on the importance working collaboratively to achieve them.

* Ordinary, yet Distinct. Vol. 29, No. 1 (Winter 2015)

The heartland of the Gallina region includes some of the least known and most rugged backcountry in northern New Mexico. From the early 1100s to the late 1200s, this forbidding landscape was home to a population of Ancestral Pueblo people.

* Enigmatic and Endangered. Vol. 33, Nos. 1 & 2 (Winter and Spring, 2019)

This issue helps situate the human history of Grand Staircase-Escalante within the broader geological and paleontological history of this iconic national monument.

* Pecos Pueblo, A Place of Persistence. Vol. 33, No. 3 (Summer 2019)

This issue explores the deep history of this special place and its significance to Pecos descendants and Jemez Pueblo today, taking readers from the early pithouse period through the establishment—and revolt against—European missions and on to the present day.

Before the Great Departure. Vol. 27, No. 3 (Summer 2013)

This issue helps us take a closer look at the Kayenta archaeological culture in the three centuries before people migrated from what is today northeastern Arizona. What insights into Kayenta history might help us understand Kayenta persistence?

Other resources:

 

Fremont

* Introducing the Fremont. Vol. 29, No. 4 (Fall 2015)

“Fremont” is a label archaeologists use for the archaeological culture of the northern contemporaries of Ancestral Pueblo people. Fremont peoples lived mostly in what is now the state of Utah, in the eastern Great Basin and on the northern Colorado Plateau.

* Enigmatic and Endangered. Vol. 33, Nos. 1 & 2 (Winter and Spring, 2019)

This issue helps situate the human history of Grand Staircase-Escalante within the broader geological and paleontological history of this iconic national monument.

Other resources:

 

Migration, Change, and Salado


Explore how migrants from the north and local groups in the south found ways of living together during a period of great change in the Southwest.

A Complicated Pattern. Vol. 26, Nos. 3 & 4 (Summer and Fall, 2012)

Salado is, at the very least, a complicated pattern of material culture that has intrigued and vexed archaeologists for decades—most researchers would agree on that. Ideas about what Salado means, however, vary greatly. This issue presents findings of Archaeology Southwest’s investigations in southwestern New Mexico, which are part of a long-term quest to understand the meaning of Salado.

Immigrants and Population Collapse in the Southern Southwest. Vol. 22, No. 4 (Fall 2008)

What happened to the people who created what we think of as the Hohokam archaeological tradition? This issue explores initial results of long-term research on the dramatic population decline that occurred in the southern Southwest almost a century before the arrival of the Spaniards. Contributors discuss the impact of migration on demographic change, as well as the methodologies they employ to address this complex research problem.

See also:

Other resources:

 

Archaeology after 1500


Learn about the periods of disruption and change following the arrival of the Spaniards in the 1500s, and how Indigenous communities resisted and adapted during Spanish colonization through to the expansion of the United States.

The Quest for Coronado. Vol. 19, No. 1 (Winter 2005)

The route that Coronado took during his exploration of the Southwest has has been a matter of debate for historians and archaeologists for some time. This issue looks at what we know, and what we don’t.

The Salinas Province: Archaeology at the Edge of the Pueblo World. Vol. 25, No. 2 (Spring 2011)

This issue explores the themes of continuity, connectivity, conflict, and colonization in the Salinas province across almost eight centuries, beginning with the Pithouse period and ending with the Spanish Colonial period.

Preserving Missions in the Pimería Alta. Vol. 23, No. 2 (Spring 2009)

This issue discusses the preservation history of missions in the Pimería Alta, an area of modern-day northern Sonora and southern Arizona that stretches from the Río Magdalena northward to the Gila River, and from the Río San Miguel and San Pedro River westward to the Gulf of California and the Colorado River.

Mormon History and Archaeology in Northern Arizona. Vol. 19, No. 2 (Spring 2005)

This issue looks at the archaeology of Mormon colonization inArizona. A must-read for anyone interested in this little known chapter of Arizona history.

See also:

Other resources:

 

Archaeological Methods and Topics


What tools do archaeologists use to learn about the past? What primary topics do archaeologists explore? These selections highlight traditional archaeological methods and themes in archaeological research.

Archaeometry in Southwest Archaeology. Vol. 26, No. 2 (Spring 2012)

This issue explores the science of archaeology with a closer look at specific methods that archaeologists use to better understand the past, such as XRF analysis, petrography, obsidian sourcing, and scanning electron microscopy.

* New Horizons for Southwestern Rock Art. Vol. 30, No. 2 (Spring 2016)

This issue explores the cutting edge of rock art research and considers rock art within the physical and social contexts of its makers’ lives.

Social Networks in the Distant Past. Vol. 27, No. 2 (Spring 2013)

This issue explores how social network analyses can help answer questions about trade, migration, and population changes throughout the Southwest’s past.

Birds in the Southwest. Vol. 21, No. 1 (Winter 2007)

This issue looks at birds in the Southwest from not only an archaeological perspective, but also from contemporary and ethnograpic angles. Macaws to Ostriches, and pets to uses in ritual, this publication covers a wide range of avian topics.

Southwest Archaeology: The Next Generation. Vol. 21, No. 2 (Spring 2007)

This issue focuses on research conducted by 17 doctoral students who were either finishing, or had just finished, their degrees. It covers a wide range of time periods and geography from the northern Southwest to northern Mexico.

Imaging the Past. Vol. 25, No. 3 (Summer 2011)

This issue’s authors seek to understand and convey past, place, human life, and the complex relationships among these through images from above, beneath, and beyond. Some of these images have been created through the authors’ own work, and some were created in the early days of aerial photography. Some are virtual, some are actual; some are resonant, some are static; all are, in some way, being preserved against the disintegrations we can predict.

Other resources:

 

The Many Values of the Past


This section explores archaeology in context. How do partnerships, collaborations, and shared site protection efforts contribute to a deeper understanding of the Southwest’s past? And how can what we’re learning about the past help us solve problems we’re facing today?

Collaborative Research in a Living Landscape. Vol. 22, No. 1 (Winter 2008)

This issue shares research on what archaeologists call the western Pueblos. Articles include perspectives from Zuni, Hopi, Acoma, and Laguna Pueblos.

* Fire Adds Richness to the Land. Vol. 30, No. 4 (Fall 2016)

The Jemez FHiRE (Fire & Humans in Resilient Ecosystems) Project examines the human and environmental histories of the Jemez Plateau in light of traditional tribal knowledge about living in forested areas of the U.S. Southwest, and with an eye toward contemporary fire management issues at the Wildland–Urban Interface.

One Valley, Many Histories: Tohono O’odham, Hopi, Zuni, and Western Apache History in the San Pedro Valley. Vol. 18, No. 1 (Winter 2004)

This issue examines the history and meaning that the San Pedro Valley, east of Tucson, has to numerous Native American groups.

Preservation and Partnerships along the Black Range of Southern New Mexico. Vol. 18, No. 2 (Spring 2004)

This issue examines how partnerships with local people have helped the progress of archaeological research in southern New Mexico.

Preserving Archaeological Landscapes. Vol. 19, No. 3 (Summer 2005)

This issue looks at how archaeological landscapes across the Southwest are being preserved. A wide variety of sites and perspectives are covered in this informative volume.

Preserving Archaeology on an Unprecedented Scale. Vol. 15, No. 1 (Winter 2001)

This issue looks at 6 of the 7 new national monuments created in the Southwest during Bill Clinton’s presidency. Also covered is some of the history of governmental land protection in the US.

See also:

Other resources:

 


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Banner image by Paul Vanderveen