87Sr/86Sr sourcing of ponderosa pine used in Anasazi great house construction at Chaco Canyon, New Mexico

Journal of Archaeological Science
By: , and 



Previous analysis of 87Sr/86Sr ratios shows that 10th through 12th century Chaco Canyon was provisioned with plant materials that came from more than 75 km away. This includes (1) corn (Zea mays) grown on the eastern flanks of the Chuska Mountains and floodplain of the San Juan River to the west and north, and (2) spruce (Picea sp.) and fir (Abies sp.) beams from the crest of the Chuska and San Mateo Mountains to the west and south. Here, we extend 87Sr/86Sr analysis to ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) prevalent in the architectural timber at three of the Chacoan great houses (Pueblo Bonito, Chetro Ketl, Pueblo del Arroyo). Like the architectural spruce and fir, much of the ponderosa matches the 87Sr/86Sr ratios of living trees in the Chuska Mountains. Many of the architectural ponderosa, however, have similar ratios to living trees in the La Plata and San Juan Mountains to the north and Lobo Mesa/Hosta Butte to the south. There are no systematic patterns in spruce/fir or ponderosa provenance by great house or time, suggesting the use of stockpiles from a few preferred sources. The multiple and distant sources for food and timber, now based on hundreds of isotopic values from modern and archeological samples, confirm conventional wisdom about the geographic scope of the larger Chacoan system. The complexity of this procurement warns against simple generalizations based on just one species, a single class of botanical artifact, or a few isotopic values.

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Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title 87Sr/86Sr sourcing of ponderosa pine used in Anasazi great house construction at Chaco Canyon, New Mexico
Series title Journal of Archaeological Science
DOI 10.1016/j.jas.2005.01.016
Volume 32
Issue 7
Year Published 2005
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Publisher location London
Contributing office(s) Branch of Regional Research-Western Region
Description 15 p.
First page 1061
Last page 1075
Country United States
State New Mexico
Other Geospatial Chaco Canyon
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
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