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Current Debates in the Archaeology of the Chaco World

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IUPUI Arts & Humanities Institute

University Library 4115s

755 West Michigan Street

Indianapolis, IN 46202

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Chaco Canyon's dense concentration of monumental architecture--along with the millions of objects that have been excavated--pose challenges to traditional models for Southwestern societies. Over the past few decades it has become increasingly evident that Chaco Canyon's reach was extensive enough to refer to it more broadly as the "Chaco World." But how archaeologists interpret regional systems of interaction such as Chaco has led to a number of debates. Some of these are about Chaco's origins, while others focus on its most extensive "Classic" period, and still others on Chaco's reorganization and fragmentation. The questions that are asked are as hotly debated as are the answers. What questions should we ask about the Chaco World and how are archaeologists answering these questions? This presentation will outline several important debates about inequality, historical memory, economy, migration, and religious ritual that are guiding exciting new research on Chaco.

Professor Barbara Mills is an anthropological archaeologist with broad interests in archaeological method and theory, especially (but not exclusively) as applied to the North American Southwest. Her work has focused on ceramic analysis as a tool for understanding production, distribution, and consumption and more broadly an interest in material culture to understand social relations in the past. Her research on ceramic technology, craft specialization, and accumulations research has led to a series of papers and edited volumes on social inequality, identity, feasting, and migration. These interests were fostered by more than a decade of work in the Silver Creek area of east-central Arizona, including a multi-year collaborative project with the White Mountain Apache Tribe. She also has field and research experience in a number of other areas of the Southwest including Zuni, Chaco, Mimbres, Grasshopper, and most recently the Greater Hohokam area. Outside the U.S. she has research experience in Guatemala (Postclassic Maya), Kazakhstan (Bronze Age), and Turkey (Neolithic). In addition to ceramics she is interested in depositional practice, and how it can be used to understand memory, materiality, and relational logics. She is currently a lead researcher on the Southwest Social Networks Project, which brings together data and a talented group of scholars to apply social network analysis (SNA) to archaeological data to the Southwest. This ongoing project continues her interest in looking at the dynamics of social relations from a multiscalar perspective.

Co-presented by the IUPUI Arts & Humanities Institute, the Eiteljorg Museum, and the Midwest Archaeological Conference.

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IUPUI Arts & Humanities Institute

University Library 4115s

755 West Michigan Street

Indianapolis, IN 46202

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