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Stratigraphy and Practical Reason Author(s): William H. Walker Source: American Anthropologist, New Series, Vol. 104, No.

1 (Mar., 2002), pp. 159-177 Published by: Blackwell Publishing on behalf of the American Anthropological Association Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/683768 Accessed: 17/11/2010 18:15
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WILLIAM H. WALKER

U
Stratigraphyand
Practical

Reason

ABSTRACTTheorganization humanbehavior of often defies utilitarian practical or reason.Inferences based in practical reasonsimbehavioral and as a resultobscureevidenceof ritual containedin sequencesof archaeological plify variability organization deposits.To basedartifact history life to the studyof prehistoric ritual I expose suchsequences,Ioffera behaviorally approach stratigraphy.illustrate this approach a case studyof ethnographic archaeological and evidenceof ritual warfareinthe American and Southwest.[Key through words:theory,ritual, CasasGrandes] war, stratigraphy, The main criticism of contemporary culture-talk:it is really instrumental, an ideological smokescreen of more fundamental interests, principally power and greedpractical functions. -Sahlins 1999:403 N MARSHALL SAHLINS'S RECENT DEFENSE culture of theory, he rehabilitates Boas, Linton, and other anthropological "codgers,"noting that despite their conceptual drawbacksthey had "no paralysing fear of structure" (1999:399). In this elegant article as elsewhere (1976:78), Sahlins stresses that where practical reason drives economic, ecological, or agency explanations, it oversimplifies human practice. Practicalreason is a conceptual shorthand that asserts a universal logic to human actions. In developed theoretical arguments, this shorthand relies on the rationalist assumption that people efficiently maximize their objective benefits at a minimal cost. In cruder forms, practical reason flows from investigators' reliance on "common sense." These forms of fundamentally utilitarian logic have many faces in the interplay of archaeological method and theory. In formalisteconomic theories, the value of goods and services derives from utilitarian laws such as supply and demand. In cultural ecology, adaptations to environments explain social variability. In some theories of agency, self-interest and greed inform actors' goals and strategies. Practicalreason is not necessarily an explicit component of any of these theoretical orientations (see Nielsen 1995; Pauketat 2000). However, when it rears its head, it masks or subordinates ethnographic variability, the life blood of anthropology. Appeals to more fundamental and unchanging concerns leave evidence of "impractical"behavior ignored or, worse, unrecognized. Sahlins's critique is particularly apt for interpretations of archaeological stratigraphy where assumptions of pracAMERICAN ANTHROPOLOGIST 104(1):159-177. Copyright

ticality commonly shape inferences about the past. The future of the study of prehistoric ritual, in particular, hangs in the balance because such presumptions of utility undervalue or obscure traces of past religious organization that structured archaeological strata. In the first section of this article, therefore, I present a definition of religion and ritual that facilitates the study of such traces. In the second section I pursue an alternative understanding of the relationship among ritual behavior, archaeological deposits, and the materialist metaphysics of archaeology (sensu Clarke 1973). In the third part of this article, I apply this understanding to interpretations of archaeological stratigraphy. In this section I explore an ethnographically inspired approach to the study of prehistoric ritual acts that emphasizes the identification of religious organization spanning or literally transcending sequences of strata. The funerary destruction of a Yuma Indian's home, for example, includes multiple activities resulting in superimposed strata (floor artifacts, burned roofing, wall debris, etc.). The organization of these activities and distinct strata resides in the Yumas' life crisis-based religion (see Spier 1933). I call such emergent stratigraphic structure sequential organization because it defies the commonsense notion that chronologically and behaviorally discrete layers or strata should be analyzed as distinct behavioralepisodes. Such diachronic research is critical for identifying ritual structurein archaeological deposits that might otherwise be attributed to accidental or warfare burning. Emphasizing stratigraphic evidence counters practical reasoning by bringing into focus "impractical," "irrational," or otherwise overlooked ambiguities in inferences of archaeological site-formation processes. In the fourth section of the article, I illustrate such behavioral structurethrough a case study of warfareand ritual
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2002, AMERICAN ANTHROPOLOGICAL ASSOCIATION

1989. 180-181). animal sacrifices. one of the most well described examples of prehistoric violence in the North American Southwest (LeBlanc 1999:252). and. Thomas 1991. Adler 1999:203. 1..g. Brooks 1993.g. Not surprisingly. Chase and Chase 1998. however... Montgomery 1993.. South America (e. Schmidt and Mapunda 1997).g. Montgomery 1993. Europe (e. instead. ritual. on the basis of practical reason. Haas and Creamer 1993.g. Darling 1998. Mesoamerica (e. also record the active role that rituals played in the formation of archaeological stratigraphy. Walker 1998. In such studies.g. Ethnographic and ethnohistoric descriptions of southwestern warfarealso reinforce the inference that warrior violence among Pueblo peoples (e. Chase and Chase 1998.. the study of prehistoric religion has become synonymous with the study of the useless and wasteful-"nonutilitarian" artifacts. Cordell 1998: 38. 1988.g. This particularcase exemplifies radically divergent interpretations of archaeological data created by the application of general theories informed by practical reason and by those generated by middle-range and lower-level theories tied more closely to ethnographic data. Haas and Creamer 1997). environment.g. Wilshusen 1986). 121. Wilshusen 1986. Wilcox and Haas 1994). and North America (e. These data demand more ethnographically subtle thinking about the organization of warfareand ritual in non-Western societies. Ogilvie and Hilton 2000. We need not sacrifice the prehistory of ritual on an altar of war but should. archaeologists have begun to look beyond artifact utility or symbolic meaning when they frame their searches for evidence of prehistoric ritual activity. however. I argue that the destruction at Paquime records ritual abandonment activities on a scale not previously imagined in southwestern archaeology. the two are difficult to separate. Walker 1998. Hill 1995. 104.. most importantly. Walker et al. These data and nonviolentsuggest that ritual practices-violent also contributed to the organization of prehistoric archaeological stratigraphy (e. LeBlanc 1999. and Rancheria peoples (e. instrumentally destroyed many of the region's pit house and pueblo sites. they are the material lens through which inferences of history must pass. ethnographic data support a range of organizing principles-some practical and others impractical. also known as Casas Grandes. Driver 1999. 1996). the variable ritual practices that create the material structureof archaeological strata. they often contain evidence of "impractical"activity that defies pragmatic explanations. Kroeber and Fontana 1986) has a long history in the region. severing its behavioral links to violence. the organization of material culture. In many cases. or power that organizes human behavior or the archaeological record. These same ethnographic data. archaeologists are challenging Hawkes's axiom that archaeological inferences of "spiritual life" are more elusive than those of "subsistence economics" or "social/ . Sugiyama 1989). and the organization of violence (e. These data are more than the remnants of ideologies whose political referents need unmasking. 1 * March 2002 through ritual explanations. identify its contributions to the archaeological record. On the basis of the same stratigraphy. has entered the literature (e.. Wilcox and Haas 1994. the physical structure of the archaeological record of ritual. the stratigraphy at Paquime. inferences of ritually burned and abandoned buildings have collided with inferences of destruction deriving from warfare and violence (e. In the fifth and final section I conclude my southwestern case study with an extended example. In Africa (e. Russell 1908. ceremonial architecture. Lightfoot et al.. funerary rites.. there are regularities. from Paleo-Indian hunters' disposal of birds of prey (Driver 1999) to the burial of witches on Caribbeanplantations (Handler 1996). appear to be universal and self-explanatory evidence (sensu Sahlins 1999:403) of war. By most standards (practical or otherwise). Hill 2000. Grieder et al. Wilshusen 1986).including the disposal of ceremonial refuse. Merrifield 1987. and symbolic imagery (Richards and Thomas 1984: 190). Nielsen and Walker 1999). RITUALAND RELIGION in the North American Southwest. Mindeleff 1898. perhaps counterintuitively.g.g. Wilshusen 1986). rather than battles. Bullock 1998. Practicalreason has reduced ritual to the "materialized" remains of past belief systems or ideologies (DeMarrais et al. 2000. There is no simple universal logic based in economy.g. Stephen 1969:100 n. Basso 1971). Fewkes 1897. A new type of data.g. 1993. Strong 1929:84. Based on the stratigraphic structure of the site. Thomas 1991). there is compelling archaeological evidence of prehistoric war in the American Southwest (see LeBlanc 1999:93-118. 1900.160 American Anthropologist * Vol. Stevanovi6 1997. practical notions of "useful" and "useless" objects have taken a backseat to the idea that "function" and "value" are relative phenomena dependent on socially constituted rules of artifact use and disposal that often involve ritual practice. the dichotomy between cultural reason and practical reason is ultimately unsustainable. In recent years. LaMotta and Schiffer 1999. Athabascans (e... I therefore argue. Excavatorsare uncloaking the invisible hand of ritual activity in archaeological strata. In the continuum of human behaviors.. Garber 1986. I contend that when these stratigraphic data are examined in detail. In such explanations. Although prehistoric artifacts and occasional human skeletal remains recovered from burned rooms (pit houses and pueblos) may. that although warfare was a common prehistoric practice in the ancient Southwest. I argue that explanations should begin with the recognition that impractical and practical reason vary through space and time because they are ultimately products of specific behavioral systems or cultures (sensu Sahlins 1976:164). No. however.g. 1988). Nonetheless. a detailed examination of their stratigraphic contexts often reveals inconsistencies and ambiguities (sensu Binford 1987) that can be best resolved Practical reason undermines the inherently material reality of ritual.

they acquired a dangerous ghostly charge from their victims' spirits that rendered them relatively useless (or low in value) until this spiritual force was exorcised. economics. and carrying capacity to explanations of archaeological data. given the complex variability that prehistorians recognize in archaeological stratigraphy. particularly after their use in battle. Religious rituals are those behaviors arising from extrasocietal (religious) relationships. This is particularly important because it allows observations of religious phenomena to be taken at face value as human behaviors. war.g. Instead. . In what might be called a "reasonable prehistoric man" standard. continue to labor beneath Hawkes's (1954) pragmatically based hierarchy of inference?Perhapsthe ladder has been reversed. The values of these weapons. It preserves the analytical usefulness of segregating such phenomena for study under a reforged category of "religion" that purposely hovers close to ethnographic data. strength. Accordingly. suggest that valuation and discard depend on socially constituted relationships (practical and impractical) between people and objects? Consider the religious relationships revealed by life histories of weapons among the Mae Enga of New Guinea. . but not axes. the utility (use value) of these weapons had little to do with their practical attributes (e. or powers having no "rational" or "practical" standing is irrelevant to the study of the manipulation of material culture engendered by those relationships. deposits and sequences of deposits resulting from such relationships become tangible evidence of prehistoric religion.. Have the values of these artifacts and this hypothetical household discard pattern been empirically demonstrated through cross-culturalanalysis. Minor use wear notwithstanding. The utilitarian behavioral assumptions underlying these categories are reproduced in his expectations of past activities and their trace evidence in the archaeological record. ideology) that conflate actual human behavior with idealized. By the same token. Ritual is neither rare nor idiosyncratic." A religion is a series of social interactions or practices within an expanded social realm that includes nonhuman. LeBlanc'sPrehistoricWarfare the AmericanSouthwest(1999:76-77). however. and "religion"into a common field of social relations. This approach facilitates such inferences by promoting a behaviorally based definition of religious ritual. employs a theory of social change that pragmatically links social organization. a deceased's warrior's weapons were highly valued by his still living relatives because these particular tools were "doubly dangerous when used against the killer" (Meggitt 1977:60). STRATIGRAPHY:CULTURALAND PRACTICAL 161 Social theories often organize human activities into categories (e. utilitarian conceptions of behavior that obscure social relationships. Like barter arrangements between hereditary trading partners or reciprocal relationships in kinship systems. turquoise.or Hawkes's axiom is no longer tenable. changed during the course of their cultural biographies or life histories (sensu Kopytoff 1986) in relation to specific behavioral contexts. forces. but similarly animated. Raw materials (hardwoods and stone) used to construct warriors' bows and axes were imported from outsiders (Meggitt 1977:55). or the like" (1999:77). artifacts cached in mounds. given the growing stratigraphic record of prehistoric ritual. Archaeologists depend on inferences about the activities forming the archaeological record to build further inferences about organization and change among past societies. economy. for in example.. this definition elevates religious practice to an analytical plane that assumes that these practices are as material and real as any other practices. That some of these relationships are with beings. ritual evidence abounds. Ceremonial artifacts and architecture underlie a number of cultural historical sequences (Walker 1995). he states: "It is unlikely that small. politics.. and other objects deposited or abandoned in undisputed ritual contexts such as shrines and foundation deposits include useful and costly items. For cases of planned ritual burning of prehistoric buildings.g. entities. I define religion as the "extension of the field of people's social relationships beyond the confines of purely human society. For archaeology. and it does more than pay lip service to the ethnographically common observation that "religion" is seldom a discrete category of experience. sharpness. As a result. value was defined by a more complex set of social relationships with spirits identifiable only in the behavioral events marking the life histories of Mae Enga and their weapons. he employs an efficiency argument to define ritual abandonment behaviors and identify their possible stratigraphic clues. it allows scholars to register the variation in that behavior that may contribute to a more general understanding of the range of religious experience. archaeology needs definitions of ritual and religion that highlight the material nature of such evidence. or does ethnographic variability. When one peeks beneath the surface of archaeological studies of politics and economics. Horton's approach rearranges disparate activities and beliefs often segregated into politics. easily transported high-production-cost items would be left behind if burning was planned [ritual] . in contrast. weight). It emphasizes social relationships that can be operationalized by archaeologists as activities involving artifacts. In the act of killing. Following Horton (1993:31-32).Walker * Stratigraphy and Practical Reason political institutions" (1954:161-162). environment. apparently following utilitarian laws of supply and demand. First. Instead. burial goods. Such expectations beg two questions. Metates would have been left. or stone effigies. This definition has two advantages. Hill (1995:96) asks the central methodological question of this new ritual archaeology: Should archaeologists. must all prehistoric ritual abandonments of structuresand sites involve only cheap or bulky objects? After all.

stone effigies. which is deemed an appropriatedisposal technique for interactions with powerful sacral material (Ferguson and Eriacho 1990). This is social structure that cannot be ignored in the consideration of stratigraphy. Is it so unreasonable that prehistoric religious changes (forced and voluntary). why not materialize archaeological theory. like all other behaviors. one wonders why archaeologists would resist the assumption that ritual activity played any less prominent a role in the formation of the archaeological record than "materialist" activities related to subsistence or politics. or Casas Grandes. in the theoretical architecture employed by practically minded archaeologists. The New Archaeology's equation of prehistoric ritual with nonutilitarian beliefs and practices obscures this material fact. Perhapsarchaeologists embrace the structure of practical reason in their inferences because they find the actual behaviors idiosyncratic. effigies. such as those accompanying the transition from pit house farming hamlets to Pueblo villages or the demise of regional interaction spheres such as those centered around Chaco Canyon. their analysis begins with the recognition of materialized ideas. including politics. Ritual patterning in ethnographic and stratigraphic contexts appears elusive in part because theories informed by practical reason have conflated ideology. unlike their postprocessual colleagues. Chihuahua. Saile 1977. ethnographers attempt to understand practices in their cultural contexts. and fetishes entered the historical archaeological record in ritual acts (Brew 1949: 65-66. 469). Confusing or conflating the study of what is material and what is ideal is a significant contradiction in the metaphysics of scientific archaeology. It seems that because ritual is not causal in favored "materialist"social theories. and architecture. Walker 1998:258). Religions organize rituals that. is it unreasonable to propose that their ancestors also might have sacrificed it during a structure or village abandonment? Today. repatriated Zuni war god effigies lie weathering in unroofed structures. Ferguson and Eriacho 1990. turquoise. or technology that are often just as culturally specific and no more easily inferred than those of religious theology. particularly ritual ones. environment. defined as systems of belief. with ritual practice. is an ideology allowing archaeologists under its sway to avoid recognizing the often weak articulation of materialist social theories and the archaeological record. Hodder 1986. a flood of ceremonial buildings. 104. particularly ritual behaviors. might not have also left dramatic stratigraphictraces of ritual change? Ideology and Materialism Given that such "nonutilitarian" behaviors abound in the ethnographic Southwest and elsewhere (Murdock 1935: 40. 125. ethnohistoric peoples of the Southwest also created complex material culture patterns. Unlike the behaviors of these practical realms. to be material at all. The archaeological record is inherently material. Bell 1992). ritual organization can also structure the disposal. abandoning and burying axes. arguments that do not incorporate that strength artificially limit their theoretical as well as methodological reach. No. recognize that all behaviors. 1996). Perhaps most critically. 1 * March 2002 more difficult to identify than that of any other behaviors. as if by magic. instrumentally contribute to the manufacture. and environment (Asad 1993. 183. archaeologists may overlook or simply not see ambiguities indicative of ritual stratigraphy that contradict their utilitarian inferences.. Although Hawkes may have been correct that specific prehistoric beliefs are more difficult to infer than past environmental processes or subsistence practices are. Kidder 1932:86-91. unlike that of economy or politics. ideology should include beliefs about economy. when confronted by ritual evidence.162 American Anthropologist * Vol. ritual behaviors should not be equated with beliefs or symbols any more or less than economic or political behaviors are. foundation? There is nothing more tangible or religious than the ritual exorcism of a Mae Enga weapon used to kill an enemy. Indeed. To avoid ethnocentrism. leading to such discrepancies. Labeling ritual as ideology universally masks the material qualities of ritual action and works to subordinate inferences of ritual to seemingly more important topics. is often segregated as a thing of ideas without behavioral structure.g. processual archaeologists. Yet. Yet. I contend that ritual practice has the same potential to impart structure to the archaeological record as subsistence or politics. New Mexico. it is unclear that evidence of ritual behavior should be any . Schiffer 1987). it ceases. albeit structurally complex. and the traces they leave behind in archaeological strata are an already ordered material reality of social relationships. economics. Rather than seeking the materialization of ideology (DeMarraiset al. economy. and. As a result. Kidder 1958:237. Why not explore theoretical realms in which ritual behavior stands on equal footing with other behaviors-at least to facilitate its identification in archaeological deposits? Archaeologists interested in politics. distribution. ironically. ritual disposal behavior is a routine feature of religious practice that constantly structures the archaeological record of people. and use of material culture. Practicalreason. seldom feel compelled to talk of subsistence ideologies or economic ideologies. discard. the activity of religion. and other objects precisely because they were ritually valuable (e. or religion Similar to the Mae Enga. Given that Pueblo peoples purposely buried turquoise in the foundations of their houses during construction (Saile 1977). artifacts. similarly. and then build social theories on this expanded. therefore. Moreover. 102. In the metaphysics (sensuClarke 1973) of archaeological materialism. and abandonment of artifacts and architecture. masks. In the forceful change from Pueblo religions to Christianity. archaeologists can use stratigraphic variability to build inferences about the activities and organization of activities of past peoples (Binford 1987. Montgomery 1949). 1958:237.

Skibo and Schiffer 2001.. might not distinguish the cause(s) of abandonment (e.Walker * Stratigraphy and Practical Reason have only stratigraphic variability to gain and their analytical chains to lose. and upper deposits and then examines variables such as the presence or absence of artifacts (animal bone. floor assemblages. sociologists. 1994. Binford 1987. As a consequence. pits. Hill (1995) divides the fill of Iron Age Wessex pits into lower. recognizes that similar or even identical hunting and foraging behaviors can result in different archaeological records. After all. consideration of this variable in conjunction with others in a stratigraphic sequence might (e. wells. including other kivas. and its roof was burned (Dick et al. Crapanzano 1977. benefiting from ethnoarchaeology. Such considerations have allowed him to recognize particular sequences of artifact deposition indicating purposefully prepared ritual strata (structured deposits) rather than casual disposal of domestic rubbish and subsequent differential weathering. plazas. and strata above the floor. Kiva D. and metal objects). Langness and Frank 1995). archaeologists should not look for collectors or foragers but instead consider the often relatively specific consequences of variable combinations of such behavioral organization. is devoted to this burgeoning researchtrend. Among the ancient pueblos and pit houses of the American Southwest. a subterraneanceremonial structure. Its ventilators and wall niches were sealed with adobe. and attribute states must be employed in the study of ritual strata. has developed more detailed life history frameworks to capture the organization of a wide range of past and present phenomena (e. 1999:68). which were not burned. shape the life histories of artifacts (Schiffer 1987). Lillios 1999. associations. Binford (1987) has modeled how the frequencies of usable parts of prey animals might betray traces of such organization in various archaeological records. such as accident or warfare.g. Binford (1987:451). albeit schematic. windblown sands. frequencies of these artifacts. Forexample. Lower and middle layers contained densities of artifacts that could not be explained as the result of better preservation. Walker 1998. rather. These approaches to inference are particularly strong because they highlight ambiguity in archaeological evidence. Indeed. and spatial locations of artifacts. its murals were plastered over. Hayden 1998. Its life history conforms to neither accident nor war but. Advocates of life history models examine how the organization of known behaviors affects the frequencies. ARTIFACTLIFEHISTORIESAND STRATIGRAPHY 163 be considered a special case.g. Allport 1942. alternative stratigraphic units. Both forms of organization may even have occurred at different behavioral scales in the same hunting and gathering society. or pueblos (see Walker 1998: 263). Skeates 1995. Gottschalk et al. edited by Marshall and Godsen (1999). and other strata. including trash deposition. including war and ritual.had a distinctive sequence of abandonment strata relative to other structures in the site.. human bone. and psychologists use to infer structured data (e. Stratigraphic Sequences The ritual structure of strata can be captured in a frame of reference that focuses on the abandonment and postabandonment life histories of a series of archaeological features such as mounds. roof fall. for example. Adler could discount less probable explanations for the destruction of this kiva. however. Artifact life history models at different scales provide a flexible technique for exploring behavioral organization. Walker and Lucero 2000. physical properties. houses. ditches. while the hunters' households seasonally moved about the landscape in a foraging strategy. can . Zedefio 1997). variables. cists. but were either dismantled or left to fill in with natural sedimentation" (1999:205). accident. give them power. middle. middens. Schiffer et al. Wilshusen 1986). ethnohistory. Sullivan 1978). their sizes. Collecting strategies may have moved resources to consumers at a home base.. and not utilitarianism per se. Such a utilitarian frame of reference.g. were often found in the lower and middle layers in the same pits with articulated Cultural processes. Indeed. the uniformitarian properties of frames of reference. 1945. This unabashedly utilitarian frame of reference in Binford's artifact life history models has contributed significantly to the archaeological study of hunters and gatherers. Human remains. By seeking a "frame of reference" such as "economic anatomy" that has widespread empirical support in ethnographic contexts. By comparing these stratigraphic variables within and between structures. one might focus on the sequential ordering among floor features. historians. he notes that this "kiva's significance rests in its differential treatment compared with other kivas. artifact life history methods of inference were initially proposed by archaeologists in the 1970s to link artifacts found in the archaeological record with prehistoric cultural contexts (Schiffer 1972. to a ritual abandonment that sets it apart from other structures in the site. This relational approach to the processes forming deposits in one unit becomes even more meaningful when the relations between units are considered across a site or region. a recent issue of WorldArchaeology. funeral). and breakage patterns. for example. such as burned roofing beams or sealed floor features. depending on the organization of these behaviors. thereby facilitating more precise explorations of the organization or structure of prehistoric activities. Individual hunters may have acted as collectors. Subsequent research. at Picuris Pueblo near Taos.g. explicit. whereas forager strategies may have moved consumers to resources. and experimental archaeology. war. In other parts of the world. New Mexico. Paralleling the life history/biography approaches that ethnographers. Although any one variable in a given deposit.. pottery. For example. ceremonial rooms.

his strongest patterns derive from consideration of the entire stratigraphic sequence of a pit. synthesizes these earlier studies arguing that warfare was endemic throughout the prehistory of the Southwest from the earliest agricultural hamlets through the latest prehistoric towns. Lipe and Matson 1971. 83) recognizes the possibility that some specialized ceremonial buildings such as Mimbres kivas might have been purposefully destroyed. The ambiguities of strata attributed to warfarein the American Southwest are aptly suited for the study of sequential organization. ResistingBenedict's (1934) classification of pueblo peoples as Appollonian. animal remains. Haas and Creamer (1993). Pfefferkorn 1949:207. During this late prehistoric period. More generally. 104. In fact. functionally oriented archaeologists sought to escape the confines of trait-based approaches to culture by looking for institutional causes of conflict. LeBlanc's(1999) recent monograph. settlement patterns. The intensity of such war peaked in the 14th and 15th centuries at the apogee of prehistoric population size. burned sites and defensive architecture were transformed into culture traits that indirectly documented processes such as migration. Perhapsthe most focused study has been Haas and Creamer's analysis of the relationship between warfare and the formation of tribal-scalepolities among 13thcentury Kayenta Anasazi of northern Arizona. In the 1940s and 1950s. noting their warrior sodalities. Although LeBlanc (1999:77-78. Beginning in the 19th century. 1980. "carewas usually taken [prehistorically] so that they [human and animal remains] were rarely deposited in the same layer" (Hill 1995:54). he argues that the intensity of fighting varied in relation to the carryingcapacity of local environments. 211. 1 * March 2002 brunt of puebloan warfare arguments well into the 1960s (Haas and Creamer 1997). organized resistance to Spanish explorers. led scholars to favor historical continuities and. Kroeberand Fontana 1986. 129). and other ethnographic evidence supporting the plausibility of prehistoric interpueblo warfare. and stratigraphicevidence of burned structures (Haas and Creamer 1993). Wilcox and Haas 1994). intruded on Mogollon peoples of the Point of Pines region of east-central Arizona but after a time were burned out for offenses unknown (Haury 1958). and others successfully synthesized architectural. Fewkes (1893). In this scholarly framework. weapons. Navajo and Apache raiders bore the . the Zuni River. which characterized the historic and prehistoric inhabitants of the region.164 American Anthropologist * Vol. As archaeologists turned away from classical evolutionary theory toward Boasian historical particularism. 1996. pueblo and clan histories provided a logical starting point for the interpretation of ancient religious wars.g. and the Hopi mesas. No. LeBlanc 1999.. and iconographic evidence of religion as well as war without contradiction. People fought to secure necessary subsistence resources such as land and crops. These studies lay the foundations for a contemporary vision of prehistoric southwestern warfare driven by environmental processes whose long-term result was the formation of increasingly complex polities (Haas and Creamer 1993. Following Woodbury (1959). burned buildings. fortifications. 1997.g. and others. Ethnographically this form of behavioral structure or sequential organizationis common (Walker 1995). Watson et al. Linton (1944) and Woodbury (1959) lay the blame for prehistoric violence squarely on the social organization of pueblo peoples. defensible cliff dwellings. particularly Athabascan peoples. diffusion. southwestern peoples aggregated into large defensible town clusters such as those found on the middle Little Colorado River. for example. both forms of evidence (archaeological and ethnographic) clearly derived from societies in the same stage of social evolution. The "barbarian" scale of organization (sensu Morgan 1878:12). far too frequently. the Rio Grande. Employing a neoevolutionary model. LeBlanc views the widespread stratigraphic evidence of burned buildings. Increasing competition for resources in circumscribed areas of the Colorado Plateau resulted in conflict documented by the formation of aggregated hilltop settlements. LeBlanc 1999:44-54). and innovation. classical evolutionists conducting ethnological research moved easily between archaeological and ethnographic evidence. Cushing (1967). the Rio Casas Grandes. The most ambitious work to date. Bandelier (1892). For Fewkes (1893). New Archaeologists began to acquire more detailed regional warfare data. Kayenta migrants from northern Arizona. Velarde 1931:138). nomadic invaders.. and their explicit problem-oriented survey and excavation research designs enabled them to marshal multiple lines of evidence including distributions of weapons. AMBIGUITY IN THE NORTHAMERICAN SOUTHWEST: A CASE STUDY Warfare exerted an undeniably important influence on the material record of the historical Southwest and for many centuries preceding Spanish contact (e. Despite subsequent functionalist arguments (Linton 1944).g. in situ floor assemblages. artifactual. and unburied bodies (e.. Wilcox 1979). and occasional unburied bodies as direct evidence of prehistoric war. Haas and Creamer 1997. However. he argues that such ritual destruction was exceptional. which suggest that endemic interpueblo warfare is a more likely explanation. By the 1970s. to interpret archaeological evidence in terms of specific mythological and legendary events. Eyewitness accounts and oral history document small raiding parties as well as large battlefield confrontations (e. became prime movers for the abandonment of sites and regions throughout the American Southwest (Kidder 1924:126. Many of the statistically significant patterns Hill has found were apparent only because he considered the ambiguity (sensu Binford 1987) inherent in these features by identifying structured data in the sequences of strata rather than in particular strata or artifact classes.

. 228. When chided by Wheeler (1954). It is rare to find detailed stratigraphic profile sections in older southwestern archaeological site reports. Turner and Turner 1999:53).S.g. Hodder 1986. Sequential Organization and Stratigraphic Inference This consideration of the American Southwest's stratigraphy of destruction has generated a growing contrarian literature that cannot reconcile all burning with warfare (e. artifactual deposition. Ford baulks at the radical notion of letting natural layers structure the evidence underlying culture history: "By this procedure. M. and wind. Haas and Creamer 1996:210. It is no longer unusual to identify and explain the instrumental origin of strata (sensuSchiffer 1987) encountered in pit house and pueblo rooms.g.or water-laid sands. ecological. particularly those related to "major fires.. LaMotta and Schiffer 1999. the building of a courtyard at 165 the point the excavation was made. they argue that the majority of southwestern cannibalism events derive from the "acts of a few zealous cultists from Mexico" who established a polity at Chaco Canyon in the Anasazi heartland. realized that time and culture trait differences could be identified with the less contextdependent methods of arbitrarystratigraphy. The rise of such middle-range site-formation process research in the 1970s and 1980s. however. Complementing the warfare literature. Despite this article's analytical dependence on units of natural stratigraphy. Woodbury 1960) argued that it provides a measure of changing cultural traits that is more efficient than the time-consuming and intellectually exhausting process of identifying and pealing back natural layers. Bankoff and Winter 1979. compiles nearly 30 years of southwestern cannibalism research. and alternative ritual explanations are viewed with skepticism (e. ideal fieldwork standards in the U. Nonetheless. Kidder (1924:22. Counterintuitively. these agents employed ritual terror. similar studies led archaeologists to recognize that stratigraphy holds previously untapped evidence of prehistoric ritual activity (Glennie and Lipe 1984. The rationalist and commonsense reasoning underlying these inferences has been facilitated. Schiffer 1976). To enforce their social and economic control of the region. Southwestern Archaeology. such arguments disappeared.g. Dissent or disobedience was punished by burning villages and consuming their occupants. 1997). 1993. sheet-washed artifact deposits. Phillips et al. This pragmatic defense. 2) later illustrated the important relationship among site growth. LeBlanc 1999:76-81. Seymour and Schiffer 1987. euphemistically known as "metrical" or "artificial" stratigraphy. Man Corn (1999). The visible hand of practical reason (economic. for natural strata may occur for reasons of no significance to the archaeologist" (1965:57). Wilshusen 1986). Lightfoot et al. one based on the observation that unwanted stratigraphic variability often clouds the orderly arrangement of time. Friede and Steele 1980). wall rock and mortar debris. we have allowed the history to be separated into periods by chance historical events. Flinders Petrie (Lyman et al. 1997:50). Bibby 1970. 1968:290-291. Longheld assumptions about the behavioral significance of stratigraphic superposition. Kent 1984: 139-141.Walker * Stratigraphy and Practical Reason Turner and Turner's recent monograph. Walker 1998. states that use of an "artificial" stratigraphic method "may actually be preferable to dealing with the natural strata. Contrarian archaeologists have certainly employed natural superposition to identify sequences of temporally discrete activities that contradict inferences of warfare. layers of burned or unburned mud and roofing timbers. Many of Kidder'scontemporaries and later culture historians. In the American Southwest. albeit methods emphasizing natural stratigraphy still remain underutilized by many North American archaeologists. Beginning with his 1916 season. Binford 1968. proponents of metrical stratigraphy (e.g. The chance that a neighboring site. McGregor's textbook. have been implicitly and explicitly challenged in this research. Montgomery 1993. perhaps the most fundamental building block of archaeological inference. in particular. But they have also recognized that traces of social organization or structure organize these sequences of . Thompson 1955:188-189. An important consideration in this research is recognition of the ethnographic subtleties in the relationship between behavior and the formation of the archaeological recordneglected by earlier scholars. such as whole and fragmentary artifacts on floor surfaces. or a major fire. Schiffer 1987:92.g.. for much of the 20th century North American archaeologists were conflicted over the role of natural layers in excavation recovery techniques (Lyman et al. His methodological innovations flowed from his collaboration with Charles Amsden as well as his Harvardtraining with Egyptologist George Reisner. More explicitly. was subjected to the same sequence of events seems remote" (1962:45). who was taught by W. by the often pragmatic excavation techniques employed by past archaeologists. continued well into the 1960s. Southwest emphasize excavation in natural levels documented by horizontal plan views and vertical profiles leading to cumulative sections (sensu Barker1982:82-94). Wilshusen 1986). fig.. these archaeologists have looked for behavioral organization that spans temporally superimposed strata. stimulated experimental and ethnoarchaeological study of the worldwide archaeological pattern of burned Neolithic houses (e.. and recovery units through a stylized profile section of the pueblo's extramural midden area. occupied for the same span of time. Alfred Kidder made a strong case for excavation in natural levels at Pecos Pueblo (see Kidderand Kidder1917). Deal 1985: 269. in part. and agential) lies heavily on this literature. As culture historical interests in trait-based chronology building gave way to processual and later contextual questions (e." Such deposits often include what Ford (1962:45) would consider the chance occurrences associated with room-abandonment processes.

Like little Pompeiis (sensu Binford 1981).g. . occupied. Aztec ruin. 104. instead. Chacoans originally built. Other cases of sequential patterning occur at larger stratigraphic scales. Although this burning has prompted some to see Aztec as another war victim (e. 9). were ritually burned at their abandonment. At Talus village.. Recognizing a causal linkage between deposits in a room or site and earlier deposits or even earlier activities in that space (i. How might the cemetery deposits at Aztec relate behaviorally to earlier activities at this site-its Chacoan and postChacoan occupationsas well as its later destruction?Perhaps EMBANKMENT . When the site's final occupants abandoned it in the 13th century. LeBlanc 1999: 233). unlike the case at Talus village. rather than particular structures. These data. prior to its abandonment) has opened up a new realm of study in the archaeology of ritual.. This burning. 700-900 C.ORM'e- FLO 0R 4c 0 RS - -FLOOR- - - 4__ FIGURE Superimposedpit house floors from TalusVillage (adapted from Morrisand Burgh 1954:20. Such data suggest either repeated catastrophes. In many cases. roofing. had few occupants and functioned mostly as a cemetery at the time of its fiery destruction (Morris 1924).e. stratigraphic data have demonstrated multiple burning events that contrast sharply with catastrophic events.166 American Anthropologist * Vol.g.. occurs well after many have fallen from use. The majority of burned structures in villages such as Grass Mesa had deposits of sand on their floors that separated their final use from their fiery destruction.E. 7'Qll. there are numerous superimposed. for example. Figure 1 shows burned floors from Area 4 clearly superimposed. Sequences Such stratigraphicinferences imply a behavioral organization or cultural structure (sensu Sahlins 1976) that transcends the discrete deposits in these sequences.such as the wholesale sacking of a village or town. Superposition Warfare inferences often evoke catastrophic events that have relatively specific temporal implications. in some times and places whole villages.. . 1. It was subsequently reoccupied by Mesa Verdean peoples for a time. and plaster) and other deposits (e. these inferences describe destructionthat is rapid and widespread. The early (ca. burned deposits sealed this sequence. . and abandoned the pueblo in the 12th century. its successive occupations and uses for mortuary ritual also provoke the sequential organization question. 1993. windblown sand. burned pit houses (see Morris and Burgh 1954). prompt the inference that. wall stones. They then built nearby pueblos and reused Aztec's rooms as burial chambers. No. "-LOO- 0 4 --2. however. Wilshusen and Ortman 1999). and inhumations) can be used to assess the validity of such inferences. or that more subtle explanations are necessary. in part. 1 * March 2002 seemingly discrete temporal events (Walkerand Ludeman 1999). consideration of the temporal evidence captured by the superposition of deposits containing burned artifacts (e.fig. 1989. As a result.) pueblo villages of southwestern Colorado highlight just such temporally ambiguous deposits (Hoffman 1993:266. Lightfoot et al. In some cases stratigraphic comparisons do support inferences of catastrophic site abandonment burning. does not occur at a "rational"point in the stratigraphic histories of the structures encountered. followed by rebuilding on the same spot (without the addition of defenses). one of the largest outlier sites in the Chaco world and possibly a central place after the abandonment of Chaco Canyon (Lekson 1999a).g.. The burning does not appear to cause the abandonment but. Wilshusen 1988. refuse.

including livestock. Mohave living on the central Colorado River fought with the Cocopa to the south and with Maricopasand Pimas living more than 150 miles to the east on the Gila River (Kroeber and Fontana 1986). It does not follow.The majority of attackerswere then put to death as they tried to escape. after all. and crops in the field (LaMotta and Schiffer 1999). and almost all nonpueblo peoples of the American Southwest. O'ohdam. several hundred Quechan and Mohave walked 150 miles from the Colorado Riverto attack their Maricopa enemies . Mohave. These observations of Pueblo warfare. Maricopa. The archaeological relevance of these ritual practices was not lost on Spier (1933). Such weapons also occur in the images of deities depicted on rock art and kiva murals (Schaafsma 2000. losers. Curiously.cloth. and crops (Walker2001). attackers were clear winners only once. and Quechan peoples living in southern Arizona. Battles. occurred outside the Maricopavillages. Weapons occur in pueblo altar assemblages (Fewkes 1902:488-489) and are components of ceremonial costumes (Roediger 1991:139). attackers still won only seven of the 21 battles they initiated. The rainmaking and fertility rites of warrior societies harnessed supernatural power through the killing of enemies and the trophy taking of weapons. In these cases and others. In the last of these disastrous battles. who recognized the persistence and acceleration of this behavior (structure) in the context of the wars and diseases of the colonial period. Zuni. and personal effects by the friends and relatives of the warriors: The Indiansfor some weeks have been mourningand for slainin the recentexpedimakingsacrifices warriors tion.The Maricopasheld the attackers at bay until their Piman allies arrived and surrounded the attackers. Moreover. Theyhave been killingtheirhorses. scalps. described as The Massacreon the Gila by Kroeberand Fontana (1986). in contrast. involved fielding hundreds of combatants in relatively formal confrontations with the goal of killing as many enemies as possible.and trinThe kets. ceremony and war are linked in a ritual technology designed to control or manipulate the animating power found in people. and ties were also categorized as wins. Kroeber and Fontana (1986:107) summarize a series of 21 such battles between 1832 and 1857. For an extended example. [San Herald and 1857. practiced funerary burning and destruction of homes and other personal possessions. They lay where they fell. lowering the probability that its site would be found. and Acoma (Haas and Creamer 1997). stored grain. Spanish conquistadors encountered battlefield tactics including organized skirmish lines and trumpet signaling that betrayed prior experience with organized interpueblo conflict (LeBlanc 1999:45). Based on these ethnohistoric data. LeBlanc (1999:16) notes that little direct archaeological evidence of this battle remains and asks. Small raiding parties attacked in stealth and killed or captured a few individuals to avenge past deaths or to acquire slaves for markets farther south in Mexico. Stephen 1969). that the archaeological record does not preserve evidence of this battle and possibly similar prehistoric conflicts. the victors allowing them to rot unmolested. Rancheria people living in southern Arizona and farther south in Mexico also attained spiritual power through fierce warfare.settled on the Gila River. If these unknowns were all actually wins. Smith 1952). ritual leaders garnered respect and fear through the manipulation of these ritual technologies. however.beads. 1). Halchidhoma. rain. houses. valuable property. Despite frequent conflict in the region. Copious indirect evidence of this battle exists 150 miles away in the stratigraphyof the historic villages of the slain Quechan and Mohave warriors. Two forms of warfare were observed: raiding and battles. consider 19thcentury warfare among Cocopa. further reducing direct evidence of this dramatic historical event. The fallen were not buried and lay exposed to the elements. and clothing (Ellis 1951. How many similar battles may have been lost to history? The battle. In these ethnographic data. Pima. Ethnographic Warfare and Ritual Seventeenth-century Spanish accounts describe interpueblo warfare along the Rio Grande and among Western Pueblo groups such as Hopi. one could expect both ritual burning of prehistoric architecture and violent .Walker * Stratigraphy and Practical Reason its initial ritual significance as an outlier community on the great north road from Chaco influenced subsequent ritual uses including its final abandonment (Campbell 1999). Indeed. and unknown. also expose a long entanglement of pueblo war with religion. Maricopas were actually a composite group of several tribes forced by war to leave the Colorado River Valley during the first few decades of the 19th century. ties (bloody 167 losses on both sides). such mortuary practices were often accompanied by the abandonment and relocation of households and villages. Warriorsodalities with important religious functions were common among pueblo groups. Four of the battles had unknown outcomes. Scalps acquired by Zuni warriorswere named water and seed beings and used in rituals to procure these life-giving substances (Stephen 1969:97 n.all of whichis valuable property. leading to a settlement pattern of death.Eyewitness accounts there describe the haunting mortuary burning of homes.burningtheir and cornfields.and arms. he notes that "every inch" of the Gila River Valley contained burned houses that were not razed by war (1933:22).see also Kroeber FonDiego tana1986:100] These Yuman-speakingpeoples. stratigraphic variability demands inferences based in the complexity of ethnographic data. They lost 14 times and tied twice. however. commanding at officer the Fortdeemedit his dutyto interfere enand to deavor prevent destruction theirmeansof subsisthe of tence. classifying their outcomes into four categories: winners.

it would not be unreasonable to investigate large-scale battles. Differences between historic and prehistoric societies do not necessarily imply that ritual abandonment burning never existed (a direct historical analogy) but. Large sites such as Casas Grandes. In that report. ceremonial rooms. The site was a source of antiquarian interest throughout the 18th and 19th centuries (e. How might ritual abandonment practices have been different in more communally focused religious systems not constrained by Spanish or American colonizers? Among the ethnohistoric pueblos where religious practices were more communally organized. and extensive deposits of ritual stratigraphy. Barlett 1965). Ethnographic analogy. Their organizational skills. a 1. According to Di Peso and others (1974). Whereas pueblos occupied for hundreds of years were the exception in prehistory. Brand 1935. other artifacts fell naturally into overlying strata (Di Peso et al. axes. 1949). Indeed. The ritual abandonment of homes among the Rancheria peoples documents rituals embedded in religions that focused largely on individual rather than community relations with the sacred. 1974). and knowledge also made possible the construction of platform pyramids. Following this desecration. it was attacked and suffered a fiery destruction on a spring day in 1340 C. the formation of "no man's lands. were still in the ritual precinct. 4:305-314). 3:758). ritual practices may have actually preserved evidence of warfare and the implements of war that would otherwise have been lost. suggests that any associated architectural destruction may have instrumentally resulted from the ritual aftermath of such a battle rather than the fighting itself. stormed the city and burned most of the structures. albeit broken up and "cast down" (Di Peso et al. Although Rancheria peoples continued to abandon villages in the ethnohistoric period. individuals. 2:320. suggest the hypothesis that pueblo peopleslike all other southwestern peoples-might have had more complex and diverse ritual stratigraphy befitting their socially complex prehistory unfettered by colonial practices.. Indeed. Plaza 3-13 possessed a large ceremonial deposit whose formation is tersely described in the following manner: "During destruction of the city. Bandelier 1890. thought to have witnessed one of the greatest massacres in the history of the ancient Southwest. interpueblo warfarewas also curtailed in this period (Haas and Creamer 1997). Chihuahua (Figure 2).. instead. 1974. Carey 1931) and its hinterlands. for example. and other utilitarian and nonutilitarian artifacts were thrown down onto the sand covering the long stairway of the site's recently abandoned walk-in well. and left the remains of at least 127 defenders lying where they fell (Di Peso 1974. Di Peso et al. Vice-Consul William Pierson (1874) and displayed at the 1876 World's Fair Centennial Exhibit in Philadelphia. civic water works. ball courts.168 American Anthropologist * Vol. CHIHUAHUA The life history of Casas Grandes has been described in an eight-volume site report that remains one of the monumental achievements of American anthropology (Di Peso 1974." defensive village postures. One of the more fascinating artifacts recovered from the site. Invaders. and architecture. these entrepreneurs centralized the production and distribution of shell. defined by the Animas (Kidder et al. they became commonplace in the historic period. two small farming communities (Chaco Canyon and Casas Grandes) at the far reaches of the Mesoamerican world were transformed into trading cities analogous to ethnohistorically known Aztec and Tarascanenclaves. Black Mountain (LeBlanc 1980). Di Peso argues . this radical social change cannot be ignored in abandonment frames of reference. 1974. Casas Grandes possesses some of the most intriguing deposits of artifacts and architecture found in the North American Southwest. and an agricultural infrastructure spanning the entire Casas GrandesValley. macaws. perhaps from the west. effigy vessels. Although this history is an exciting one. The political.g. however. Whole and fragmentary bowls. copper. it is only the tip of the iceberg. 4:205). during the appropriately named Diablo Phase (Di Peso et al. artifacts.544-kilogram meteorite (Tassin 1903). effigy mounds. and religious hegemony these prehistoric pochteca cast over the northern frontier initially created the Chacoan phenomenon of great houses and roads and subsequently the rise of Casas Grandes and the material culture patterns of the Chihuahuan culture (e. probably taken from adjacent room" (Di Peso et al. 1974. THE STRATIGRAPHYOF CASAS GRANDES.E. may instead document one of the most extensive examples of southwestern ritual stratigraphy. economic. pueblo abandonment and mobility were curtailed by administrative policies of Spanish and later American governments. were buried and not subject to the intensive mortuary rituals of the Rancheriapeoples. Such ritual organization prompts the question.g. and El Paso Phases (Lehmer 1948). In the archaeological study of the processes organizing the deposits found in prehistoric pueblos. 1 * March 2002 that between 1050 and 1340 C. they could have affected the life histories of settlements. 104. 5:592). Di Peso thought that as the city began to decline in power in the 14th century. 1974. was bought by U. Such ritual and violence would mark the physical displacement of peoples. pottery. Ceremonial objects on the Mound of the Offerings. ceremonial hoard cast into NW corner of plaza. however. coercive power. Although many causes could account for the ritualized abandonment of a site. No. Pierson's flowery description of the meteorite as wrapped in a "kind of coarse linen" in a "kind of tomb made of adobe brick" suggests intercommunity warfare across relatively large regions of the prehistoric Southwest. desecrated its holy places.. Even when battle sites have left little direct evidence of their occurrence. and turkeys at Casas Grandes.S.E. 4:371-382). Early visitors impressed by the massive adobe construction remarked on the defensive appearance of its walls (Hammond and Rey 1928:205-206).

Creel 1997. scholars working in that same research tradition today present a very different picture of the site's life history. particularly long-dis- tance trade (Doyel 1994). Di Peso has refined this vision into a Mesoamerican enclave. believed that the artifacts. PLLARS SOUTH PLAZA House of the 2 RESERVOIR SERPENT CEREMONIAL BALL COURT N. 2.E. Whalen and Minnis 1996) have undermined most facets . that. Casas Grandes was focus of the debate over the interaction between Mesoamerican and southwestern cultures (e. Hewitt 1923.. the Casas Grandes Valley were the remains of the fabled Aztec homeland of Azatlin. like the Kaaba. Ravesloot 1979. man House of the :!.. Hewitt (1923). for example. The last 20 years of excavation and survey in the greater Chihuahuan region (e.. 0 30 60 BALL COURT Trenched Structures 90 120 FIGURE Map of the site of CasasGrandes. architecture. Ironically. place it later than the Toltec and Chacoan cultures. and iconography of his excavations contributed directly to the rise of the more sophisticated study of these topics. Schaafsma and Riley 1999. Subsequent redating of Casas Grandes tree-ring samples (Dean and Ravesloot 1993) to between 1200 and 1450 C. this piece of sky was enshrined at Paquime as a holy object (1874:420). De Atley 1980.Walker * Stratigraphy and Practical Reason 169 House of the PIT OVENS CROSS MOUND BALL COURT I (- OFFERINGS RESERVOIR 1 Moundof the HEROES E-: Moundof the . vol.Chihuahua(adapted from Di Peso et al.g.WELL EAST PLAZA DEAD sHouse of th SKULLS SERPENT MOUNDT BIRD MOUND House of the MACAWS HsohREHouse of the. In the 1950s when Di Peso began his work in the region. Lambert and Ambler 1961. Excavated Structures M. Di Peso 1974. 1974. During the 20th century. McGuire 1986). and Minnis 1988. 451-2). strong cases of macroregional research in the American Southwest were rare. 2: fig.g.

As noted above. frequently headless.g." In other areas of the site. copper. Perhaps the life histories of the ceremonial room. they suggest that in the 14th century the town of Casas Grandes shared ritual imagery and activities with its periphery but did not dominate it economically or politically. and turquoise went south. In contrast. The stratigraphic sequence associated with the site's walk-in well. Arguing that Di Peso's excavations represent only a sample of the large ruin. also argue that the abandonment strata in the well are significant. many of them buried whole. 2000. The only entrance to this room was by a ladder from a landing on the stairs. and ceremonial rooms) highlight their prehistoric religious importance and should prompt investigators to look for sequential organization in these contexts. Perhapsthese ritual objects came from that room-but not for the reasons he states. macaws. No. has found that shell. Turkeys and macaws are critical for many ethnohistoric pueblo rituals." in the floor of this room (Di Peso et al. Schaafsma 1997. stratigraphic sequences go largely unexamined or unexplained in part because they do not correspond in time to each other or the burning on the site's final day. 1988. For example. Minnis (1984. based on the stratigraphicstructure of the site. The remains of 503 macaws. Their form of deposition and their places of deposition at Casas Grandes (plazas. and other sources of water are places of ritual importance worldwide (e.. LeBlanc (1999:252) extrapolates from the 127 victims and derives a total body count in excess of 1. 104. Construction. use. and Hohokam sites in the North American Southwest. Griffith 1992. 1988). Instead. Di Peso infers that the ceremonial hoard resulted from the ransacking of a nearby ceremonial room opening onto the plaza. there may have been a ritual organization or structure to these strata.170 American Anthropologist * Vol. Minnis 1984. Turnerand Turner 1999) continue to embrace Di Peso's interpretation of events at Casas Grandes and have not incorporated these new data into their explanations. De Atley 1980:158. begs a sequential interpretation. approximately 90 percent of the turquoise recovered from the site was found in one foundation deposit beneath a large water reservoir. Mogollon. Dean and Ravesloot 1993:103. and violence (LeBlanc1999. were recovered from Casas Grandes. A mixture of "utilitarian" and "nonutilitarian" artifacts was lying on this sand layer and in subsequent layers above it (Walker and McGahee 2001). The Chichimecan Revolt Contemporarystudies of southwesternwarfare.The initial and continuing ceremonial uses of this plaza and ceremonial room may explain the subsequent deposition of human and bird burials as well as the final deposition of the "ceremonial hoard. Brenneman and Brenneman 1995. and abandonment of the Casas Grandes well betrays a similar prehistoric ritualization of water (Di Peso et al. Douglas 1995. springs. and ceremonial hoard were intertwined in a series of activities that eventually resulted in the sequence of deposits he encountered. and harnessing this power is a major focus of ceremonial relationships with the sacred. this practical function should not overwhelm inferences about the well's other functions.. Woosley and Olinger 1993). their feathers adorn prayer sticks and other ceremonial tools including the masks still worn in pueblo ceremonies today. Among the desert peoples of the American Southwest water plays a prominent role in ceremonial activities. I argue that the destruction at Casas Grandes represents the results of ritual activity. human burials. Indeed. Turkeys were also ceremonially buried. Although this feature would have been an important defensive resource for the town during a siege. human scalps are more than war trophies.The remaining 10 percent came from what also appeared to be foundation deposits within the ruins. Rather than a succession of unrelated construction. Di Peso interprets the lower layers as a desecration deposit thrown in during the site's destruction and attributes . however. A human skullcap was embedded. 1 * March 2002 of Di Peso's model (e. and turkeys were buried in them as well as the "ceremonial hoard" previously described. "bowl-like. Although some of these exotics did go north.000. Given that Di Peso's history of this site is intricately tied to the pragmatic political and economic structure of his model. VanPool et al. Di Peso recognizes that the human skullcap. 1974. In the ethnohistoric pueblos of the American Southwest. 4:376-381). Human remains. I would.cannibalism. use. A layer of fine sand covered the stairs. and discard processes. It is associated with the animating power of life. it seems that new political and economic inferences should lead to the reconsideration of the stratigraphy of the Chichimecan revolt. plaza 3-13 containing the cast-down "ceremonial hoard" also contained many human burials as well as the remains of 175 interred turkeys. Casas Grandes contains complex deposits whose descriptions resemble ritual abandonment practices recognized at contemporary and earlierAnasazi. and generally secluded access to the well mark the area as religiously important. 4:380). hanging room. 1974. plaza spaces provide a stage for the performance of ceremonies and often possess shrines.g. Casas Grandes may have been the primary consumer of these artifacts. The well's construction included the building of a 12-meter-deep stairway from a small room (44B-8) adjacent to the plaza 3-8. Wells. plaza. trade in these exotics does not appear to have fueled the rise of Casas Grandes. in particular. The plazas at Casas Grandes appear to have been equally important ceremonial spaces. they are tools in rainbringing ceremonies. for example. In aggregate. human remains. Schaafsma and Riley 1999. and parrots-exotic objects important to ritual activities-were produced and hoarded for use at Casas Grandes rather than for distribution in a large regional trade network under the town's control. birds. Scarborough 1998). A second small room was suspended above the stairwell.

In fact. 171 Excavatorsand subsequent analysts have always questioned why they have encountered only one-third of the expected burials for this site (Di Peso et al. Although abandoned early in the occupation of the site. Perhaps wall edges. Combining these two contexts accounts for 62 (49 percent) or almost one-half of the bodies. If the well had been purposely buried in a ritual abandonment. intramuralburial. The House of the Serpent The House of the Serpent. . one of the rare instances of an intact skeleton occurred in a plaza fill context where it would have been exposed to the most severe environmental and biological agents. Curiously. Associated in these upper stratawere fragmentaryhuman skeletal remains. in actuality the vast majority of these individuals consist only of disarticulated and fragmentary skeletal parts. subterranean construction. Like the 22 percent of human remains described as random deposits of war. the frequencies of whole and fragmentary bird skeletons (macaws and other birds) as well as their contexts parallel those of the human remains quite closely: they occur in single and multiple burials. a freestanding single-story compound constructed and abandoned early in the site's history (see Figure3). 4 (3 percent). 18 percent of the bird remains that did not occur in purposeful burials are described as miscellaneous deposits. the House of the Serpent. begging the question: Was this individual really a victim or a plaza burial? Even more intriguing clues arise from comparisons of these 127 "victims" with the 447 individuals thought to have received considerate burial at the site. Drawn on the wall of 38B was a depiction of the horned serpent. a baby burial and a multiple burial. Eighty-three of the multiple burials contained fragmentary remains not dissimilar from the warfare victims: "This count [83] involved not only combinations of articulated individuals but various groupings of primary and secondary or even partially articulated remains" (Di Peso et al. In this interpretation the superposition of the sand layer on the stairs indicates. Not surprisingly. minimally. from room corners. that the well was not in use at the time of the attack. 44 macaw skeletons. then an order emerges to tie together the small ceremonial rooms. These 447 individuals occurred in only 276 graves because multiple burial was relatively common at the site. Although depicted in the site maps as whole bodies lying prone in various stratigraphic contexts (mounds. Di Peso qualitatively attributes their destruction to randomizing postdepositional disturbance processes. and rooms). On the floor and above in deposits of roofing material were the remains of an articulated young adult male. the House of the Serpent possesses a staggered outer wall. corners. macaws are an important ritual commodity in the historic and prehistoric Southwest. from doorway thresholds. from plaza fill (4 percent). and the lower and upper levels of the well's strata. its strata held in miniature much of the ambiguity of Di Peso's interpretation of the site. 8:325. plazas. That 22 (17 percent) were piled against walls does not seem random. 22 (17 percent)." The osteological descriptions as well as unpublished photographs of these victims indicate possible funerary and other ritual site-formation processes that could account for their patterning. 38A and 38B. The stratigraphicevidence from one of the site's earliest compounds. Despite its defensibility. The ramp entry of this structure had been sealed with cobbles that had partially fallen down the ramp. Thirty-two (25 percent) were recovered from the centers of floors or central pockets in the fill of rooms. however. Although this is a radically different interpretation of these data. this structure's size. takes its name from the nearby horned serpent effigy mound. the sand. 8:328). 26 (20 percent). Why the well was already in a state of abandonment has been left unexplained by both Di Peso and subsequent scholars. and ramped entry most closely resemble Mogollon great kivas found farther north in southwestern New Mexico (Lekson 1999b: 88. doorways. 1974. Di Peso describes it as a ceremonial room. and a bastion-like corner (room 34) that could be interpreted as defensive. At first glance. these deposits and architecture betray striking evidence of ritual activity. it seems far less speculative when one reconsiders the evidence of the 127 unburied victims of the "revolt. Yet there is structure to their deposition. despite two important traces of ritual activity: (1) a mural painted on the wall depicting a horned serpent and (2) the placement of a macaw aviary on the roof. a single entry. Ravesloot 1988:22). Perhaps at least some of the missing burials are those attributed to the battle. He does not assign the remodeled room a ritual function. there is insufficient evidence to infer that these individuals fell in war. The siting of this compound adjacent to the horned serpent mound seems significant when one considers that room 38 is the only structure in the site that resembles a kiva. Given the recognized secondary burial.Walker * Stratigraphy and Practical Reason the origin of the artifacts in the well's upper strata to accidents of natural infilling. and 2 (2 percent). from against walls. and bed platforms served as places for the storage or disposal of human remains during and after the abandonment of specific rooms. Above this stratum were two purposeful features. from alcoves/bed platforms. exemplifies the complexities found in deposits at Casas Grandes. As noted above. this distribution may not seem structured until one recognizes that bed platforms/alcoves occur in the corners of rooms. 5. Although only one story. Murals painted on the walls of ceremonial rooms depicting supernatural entities such as the horned serpent are also commonplace in the historic and later prehistoric pueblos. Finally. nor do the four deposits in doorways. 1974. and structure to the victim deposits. often whole but sometimes fragmentary. and parts of their pens. Wilcox 1999:100). from drains. This compound possessed 28 structures surrounding a subterraneanroom (room 38) that was remodeled during the compound's occupation into two structures. 36 (28 percent).

this same place was used as a redoubt. The collapse of 38B's roof.Chihuahua(adapted from Di Peso et al. the structurewas built as a ceremonial room but was remodeled as a secular or utilitarian space. Despite its prominence as a religious icon." drawn by a "youth" tending the macaws. Defenders of the town attempted to seal the ramped entry of room 38 with stones. Di Peso's interpretation of this structure'sstratigraphy reveals a patchwork of accidents and coincidental reuse behaviors that shore up key moments of the site's history. . 4:512-514). 1974. 5:476 fig. The attackers breached this temporary wall. 1 * March 2002 2-11 pLAZ-A pLAZPXS3f BED PLATFORMS WAILS DOORWAYS FIGURE Map of the House of the Serpent at CasasGrandes. In the final hours of the site. pushing it down the ramp. the horned serpent drawing is described as a "doodle. No. which sealed 44 macaws and the youth in the structure's lower fill. Subsequently.172 American Anthropologist * Vol. their bones were transformed into the room's assemblageof fragmentary human skeletalremains. who died standing on the rubble of room 38A-B. 1-5). According to Di Peso and others (1974. 3. vol. In the passage of time. is attributed to an accident. A macaw aviary was then built on its roof. and then killed the defenders. 104. the fill of the room served as a cemetery area for later occupants of the main ruin.

perhaps this stratigraphic series derives from a sequential organization that includes the construction of a kiva. of Narrative Explorations Incidentsin and 1965[1854] Personal Texas. eds. of in American 37:287-305. 185-187.WatsonSmith. perhaps. W. H.g.California. WILLIAM WALKER Department of Sociology and AnthroNew Mexico State University. Pp. Allport. does not exist in any absolute sense but only in the measure and form projected by a cultural order" (Sahlins 1976:164). John R.Walker * Stratigraphy and Practical Reason Rather than a stream of unrelated coincidences.49.Horizon12(2):96-101. Archaeology Bartlett. In the ancient American Southwest these data contribute to a growing database of ritually abandoned structures. Universityof Virginia Brew.ClementsCenterforSouthwestern Studies.andJohn O. The study of such logic(s). Scott Rushforth. and its remodeling into a more specialized ritual room. REFERENCESCITED Adler. NM 88003 pology. Christine VanPool. York: Aldine.. 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