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The Late Archaic across the Borderlands

Edited by Bradley J. Vierra
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    The Late Archaic across the Borderlands
    Book Description:

    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.

    eISBN: 978-0-292-79668-3
    Subjects: Archaeology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xii)
    Richard I. Ford

    The borderlands has a significant place in the study of Archaic lifeways by archaeologists. First, the region was noted for its exceptional preservation of artifacts, plant remains, and painted panoramas found in rockshelters. Then the area was ignored for its seemingly long period of cultural stasis, when nothing appeared to happen. Today the region has reemerged because of its strategic position in the introduction of domesticated plant horticulture into the Southwest. Bradley J. Vierra’s important “Borderlands Introduction” becomes our indispensable archaeological guide to the Borderlands and highlights the cultural significance of the region, its variation, and the cultural changes it...

    (pp. xiii-xiv)
    Thomas R. Hester
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  6. CHAPTER 1 Borderlands Introduction
    (pp. 1-12)

    The transition from foraging to agricultural-based economies was one of the most significant processes to occur in human history (Harris 1996; Matson 1991; Smith 1998). Yet it did not occur in all parts of the world. This was the case across the Borderlands between the United States and Mexico, an area stretching from the Gulf of California to the Gulf of Mexico. Although the development of Southwestern culture was based on a foundation of maize agriculture, nomadic foragers ranged the adjacent Tamaulipas regions of South Texas and northeastern Mexico. Recent discoveries of Late Archaic villages in southern Arizona and terrace...

  7. CHAPTER 2 The Late Archaic/Early Agricultural Period in Sonora, Mexico
    (pp. 13-40)

    Despite occupying a prominent position between the American Southwest and Mesoamerica, arguably two of the most intensively studied regions in the world, the archaeology of Northwest Mexico remains little investigated and poorly understood. Not unexpectedly, this problem is even more acute with regard to the preceramic occupations. Yet archaeologists have long recognized the arbitrary nature of the international boundary and have identified Archaic components related to traditions in the American Southwest. Moreover, however implicitly, Northwest Mexico figures prominently in virtually all models that seek to explain the diffusion of maize and the origins of the Early Agriculture period.

    This chapter...

  8. CHAPTER 3 Changing Knowledge and Ideas about the First Farmers in Southeastern Arizona
    (pp. 41-83)

    Archaeological remains of the early farmers of southeastern Arizona (Figure 3.1) have been studied for more than six decades. Over that time-span, knowledge of their site types, subsistence strategies, settlement patterns, material cultures, and chronologies has grown through initial explorations, research expeditions, and cultural resource management projects. An explosion of discoveries in this region since the 1980s has pushed back the earliest dates in the Southwest for agriculture, canals, ceramics, cemeteries, villages, and possibly the bow and arrow. Concurrently, ideas about the circumstances and consequences of the introduction of agriculture to the region, who the first farmers were, and how...

  9. CHAPTER 4 A Biological Reconstruction of Mobility Patterns in Late Archaic Populations
    (pp. 84-112)

    One of the most important economic, social, and biological transitions in human history is the shift from food-collecting to food-producing systems. As food production required some degree of sedentism, this transition had a major impact on traditional hunter-gatherer lifeways (Binford 1980, 2001; Kelly 1995). The archaeological evidence from the deserts of the American Southwest indicates a major change in the behavioral repertoire of highly mobile Late Archaic populations during the late centuries bc (Huckell 1983, 1990). This first archaeologically detectable evidence of seasonal residential stability saw the incorporation of a new variant, maize (Zeasp.), into the hunting and gathering...

  10. CHAPTER 5 Environmental Constraints on Forager Mobility and the Use of Cultigens in Southeastern Arizona and Southern New Mexico
    (pp. 113-140)

    Every year the New Mexico spring finds me in my backyard, bent over a rototiller, working the clay-rich sediments of an abandoned Rio Grande floodplain. And every year, despite that gas-powered tiller, tons of soil amendments, a nifty drip irrigation system, and cheap city water, I spend most of my free time each summer in that 2,000-square-foot plot, pulling weeds, squashing bugs, and fixing that marvelous drip system—all to produce food that I could buy at the local grocery for a tenth the person-power cost, not to mention the chiropractor bills. But twenty years ago you would have found...

  11. CHAPTER 6 The Transition to Farming on the Río Casas Grandes and in the Southern Jornada Mogollon Region
    (pp. 141-186)

    Poorly understood variability characterizes the rate at which hunting and gathering economies evolve into farming ones at global and regional scales. In Southwestern North America farming economies were typically established with the formation of early pithouse settlements in the Hohokam, Anasazi, and Mogollon regions between ca. ad 200 and 700. Recent investigations have shown that significant use of maize was underway by ca. 1200 bc in southern Arizona (Huckell 1995; Huckell et al. 1995; Mabry 1998, 2002, 2003; Mabry et al. 1997). The extremes of this variability are particularly evident in the vicinity of the New Mexico–Chihuahua international border....

  12. CHAPTER 7 Late Archaic Stone Tool Technology across the Borderlands
    (pp. 187-218)

    The Late Archaic (ca. 3000–1500 bp) along the U.S./Mexican Borderlands is characterized by a diverse set of agricultural and foraging economic strategies. Current research indicates that areas of the Sonoran and Chihuahuan Deserts contain evidence for an early dependence on agriculture with sedentism, vs. foragers who repeatedly reoccupied specific site locations in the Tamaulipas region of South Texas. This varied archaeological record provides an excellent opportunity to evaluate current arguments concerned with explaining technological variation. This chapter presents the preliminary results of the analyses of chipped stone artifacts from the Late Archaictrincherassite of Cerro Juanaqueña, Chihuahua, Mexico,...

  13. CHAPTER 8 Late Archaic Foragers of Eastern Trans-Pecos Texas and the Big Bend
    (pp. 219-246)

    Late Archaic sites (ca. 3000–1300 bp) are ubiquitous across the Big Bend and eastern Trans-Pecos region of far West Texas and are found in virtually all environmental settings—from low-lying Chihuahuan Desert basins to the tops of tree-clad mountain peaks. Available data suggest the onset of mesic conditions in the early Late Archaic (ca. 3000–2200 bp). Attendant to wetter conditions was the expansion of diverse material cultures, rich in perishable items, and a subsistence regime based on hunting and broad spectrum gathering. The region appears to have experienced significant population increases during the period 3000–2500 bp. While...

  14. CHAPTER 9 Ecological Factors Affecting the Late Archaic Economy of the Lower Pecos River Region
    (pp. 247-258)

    This chapter evaluates the economy and environment of the Lower Pecos River region of Southwest Texas and Coahuila, Mexico, in order to explore the reasons why farming was never adopted in the region. First, the bio-physical environment and Archaic period economy of the region are described. Then the environment and economy are compared to areas in the Southwest where farming was adopted during the Late Archaic. These comparisons show that the Lower Pecos environment and subsistence strategies were not favorable for a transition to farming.

    The Lower Pecos River region is located at the southern edge of the Edwards Plateau...

  15. CHAPTER 10 An Overview of the Late Archaic in Southern Texas
    (pp. 259-278)

    This chapter examines some of the data that have emerged in recent years, illuminating various aspects of prehistoric cultural patterns during the latter part of the Archaic in southern Texas (Figure 10.1). The region under consideration is known as the Rio Grande Plain, south of the Edwards Plateau and between the Guadalupe River and the Rio Grande. The South Texas coastal strip, with its own distinctive archaeological record, is not included (see Ricklis 1995).

    The South Texas area is usually referred to as the Rio Grande Plain; it is semiarid, with a mosaic of local environments that range from abundant...

  16. CHAPTER 11 Many Perspectives But a Consistent Pattern: Comments on Contributions
    (pp. 279-299)
    R. G. MATSON

    How and why agriculture arrived in some places and not in others has come to be an important question in the archaeology of the greater Southwest. The contributions in this volume address a range of adaptations from certain early agricultural communities to others where agriculture was only of marginal importance and even where agriculture was absent. The “Borderlands” is now the geographical locus for the investigation of this question. Bruce Smith, the other discussant, looks at the chapters in the larger context of agricultural origins in general.

    The understanding of the coming of agriculture in the Southwest has changed dramatically...

  17. CHAPTER 12 Documenting the Transition to Food Production along the Borderlands
    (pp. 300-316)

    The chapters in this volume offer a range of new approaches and insights regarding the transition to food production economies along the Borderlands of northwestern Mexico and the southwestern United States. The authors of these chapters also clearly grapple, in interesting ways, with many of the same general challenges and difficulties faced by researchers attempting to unravel similarly complex transitions to food production witnessed in other world areas.

    The transition from a hunting and gathering way of life to agriculture marks a major turning point in human history and has long been recognized as a central topic of inquiry in...

    (pp. 317-318)
  19. INDEX
    (pp. 319-328)