Anasazi Settlement Patterns: the Importance of Seasonal Mobility

Charlene Milliken

Master of Arts Thesis. 2001

The purpose of this paper is to use the results of a multidimensional scaling analysis to evaluate four models that attempt to explain Anasazi settlement pattern changes, specifically in relation to seasonal mobility. The multidimensional scaling analysis will be performed using Reher's 1977 surface survey data from the Chaco Basin in northwestern New Mexico from the Basket Maker III phase through the early Pueblo IV phase. Using the results of my analysis I will explore whether or not seasonal mobility continued to be an important resource acquisition strategy through time using four research questions: 1) Are upland sites different from lowland sites?; 2) Are permanent sites or long-term sites and seasonal occupation sites represented?; 3) Does sedentism increase through time?; and 4) Does population increase affect settlement patterns?

Each of the four models focuses on the importance of mobility strategies for people who live in environmentally marginal areas. Charles A. Reher (1977) uses an ecosystemic model to explain why people located themselves where they did. He argues that people located their sites in places that best maximized resources and minimized risk. Shirley Powell (1983) develops a model for the Anasazi of Black Mesa, Arizona, based on seasonal mobility in a setting characterized by environmental uncertainty. Stephen Plog (1986) also looks at the Black Mesa Anasazi and discusses the nature and causes of population increase and decrease. He argues for settlement pattern changes as a reflection of social changes that occurred during periods of population increase and decrease. Finally, Robert W. Preucel, Jr. (1990), develops a model for the Anasazi of the Pajarito Plateau, New Mexico, based on seasonal agricultural circulation characterized by dual residence.