Why and when human societies shifted from nomadic hunting and gathering to settled agriculture engages the interest of scholars around the world. One of the most fruitful areas in which to study this issue is the North American Southwest, where Late Archaic inhabitants of the Sonoran and Chihuahuan Deserts of Mexico, Arizona, and New Mexico turned to farming while their counterparts in Trans-Pecos and South Texas continued to forage. By investigating the environmental, biological, and cultural factors that led to these differing patterns of development, we can identify some of the necessary conditions for the rise of agriculture and the corresponding evolution of village life.
The twelve papers in this volume synthesize previous and ongoing research and offer new theoretical models to provide the most up-to-date picture of life during the Late Archaic (from 3,000 to 1,500 years ago) across the entire North American Borderlands. Some of the papers focus on specific research topics such as stone tool technology and mobility patterns. Others study the development of agriculture across whole regions within the Borderlands. The two concluding papers trace pan-regional patterns in the adoption of farming and also link them to the growth of agriculture in other parts of the world.
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