Pueblo II and Pueblo III settlement patterns on Cedar Mesa, southeastern Utah
Haase, William Rudolph IV
MetadataShow full item record
This thesis identifies several environmental and cultural factors that affected prehistoric Pueblo settlement on portions of Cedar Mesa, southeastern Utah. The settlements were established by farmers of the Mesa Verde and Kayenta branch of the Anasazi cultural tradition during the late Pueblo II and Pueblo III periods (A. D. 1050 to 1270). Data were gathered from three drainage basins on Cedar Mesa. Forty-five randomly located 400 m square quadrats were surveyed, providing a 7 percent sampling rate. The settlement pattern analysis was accomplished by: 1) a review of literature regarding Southwestern settlement patterns; 2) formulation of hypotheses that could be tested against the archaeological data; and 3) objective evaluation of hypotheses using statistics. Two site types capable of statistical evaluation were recognized: dispersed habitations and seasonally utilized field stations. Most of the field stations are found within the pinyon-juniper plant community above 1950 m elevation in the highest portions of the study area. Small numbers of field stations also are found the lower elevation desertshrub community, and in the canyon and escarpment zones. Only the pinyon-juniper zone has large quantities of arable land and enough precipitation to support successful agriculture. Within this zone, field stations are located either upon divides having deep soil or along drainages that provide floodwaters after thundershowers. Field stations have two directional aspects: mesic northern exposures and drier but sunny southern exposures. Habitations are also primarily within the pinyon-juniper plant community, but show less variability in environmental associations than do field stations. These sites have predominantly southern exposures and with few exceptions, are found upon watershed divides. Proximity to drinking water is not important until after A.D. 1150, when habitations tend to be located closer to springs. Methods used to assess cultural factors affecting settlement pattern were less rigorous than those used in the environmental analysis; nevertheless, patterns could be inferred. The first Pueblo farmers on Cedar Mesa settled atop earlier Basketmaker III sites, but later settlers generally did not. For all phases, facility types at field stations increase with increasing distance from contemporary habitations. Finally, habitations tend to cluster into semi-nucleated "homestead groups" at the highest elevations of the study area. It is believed that most farming occurred within sight of habitations, and that field stations are an attempt to diversify farming locations into a number of different environmental settings to avoid catastrophic effects on the agricultural system. Drought, frost, or other problems would have a lesser chance of wiping out an entire crop if several fields in different locations were used.