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Twelve cylinder jars from Pueblo Bonito housed in the Smithsonian Institution Department of Anthropology. Vessel in left center is 21.5 cm in height (Marianne Tyndall, photographer). [Reproduced with permission from Crown and Wills (8) (Copyright 2003, Society for American Archaeology).]

Twelve cylinder jars from Pueblo Bonito housed in the Smithsonian Institution Department of Anthropology. Vessel in left center is 21.5 cm in height (Marianne Tyndall, photographer). [Reproduced with permission from Crown and Wills (8) (Copyright 2003, Society for American Archaeology).]

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Chemical analyses of organic residues in fragments of ceramic vessels from Pueblo Bonito in Chaco Canyon, New Mexico, reveal theobromine, a biomarker for cacao. With an estimated 800 rooms, Pueblo Bonito is the largest archaeological site in Chaco Canyon and was the center of a large number of interconnected towns and villages spread over northwest...

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... Chaco culture also comprised Great Kivas, 9 m wide roads, and the replication of these iconic architectural forms in approximately 150 "outlier" communities across a 100,000 km 2 region (Lekson 2006). Chaco Canyon shows some of the earliest evidence of institutionalized inequality in the precontact U.S. Southwest in the form of access to Mesoamerican goods and multigenerational high-status burials interred in Pueblo Bonito, the largest Great House in the canyon (Crown and Hurst 2009;Kennett et al. 2017;Watson et al. 2015). For these reasons, many researchers interested in the development of social complexity and inequality in North America are drawn to investigating the cultural dynamics of Chaco Canyon. ...
Article
A total of 200,000+ large timbers were transported >75 km to Chaco Canyon, a political and religious center in the precontact U.S. Southwest, using only human power. Previous researchers reported that typical primary roof beams (vigas) of Chacoan Great Houses averaged 0.22 m in diameter and 5 m in length with a mass of 275 kg. However, the 275 kg mass appears to be a miscalculation. Here, we calculate that a ponderosa pine timber of the stated dimensions would have a mass between 85–140 kg depending on the water content. While still a prodigious load, this recalculated mass requires revisions to estimates of the labor, time, and energy required to build Great Houses at Chaco. Based on contemporary measurements on professional load carriers and soldiers, we estimate that as few as two people could have carried an 85 kg timber across 100 km in as few as 21 h of active walking. 200,000+ maderas grandes fueron transportadas >75 km hasta el Cañón del Chaco, un centro político y religioso precolombino en el suroeste de los EE.UU., utilizando únicamente fuerza humana. Investigadores anteriores informaron que las vigas principales del techo de las Casas Grandes Chacoanas tenían un diámetro promedio de 0.22 m y una longitud de 5 m con una masa de 275 kg. La masa de 275 kg parece ser un error de cálculo. Aquí, calculamos que una madera de pino ponderosa de las dimensiones indicadas tendría una masa entre 85 y 140 kg dependiendo del contenido de agua. Aunque sigue siendo una carga prodigiosa, esta masa recalculada requiere revisiones de las estimaciones de la fuerza laboral, el tiempo y la energía totales necesarios para construir las Casas Grandes en Chaco. Basado en medidas contemporáneas sobre profesionales de carga y soldados, nosotros estimamos que tan solo 2 personas podrían cargar una madera de 85 kg a través de 100 km en tan solo ∼ 21 horas de caminata activa.
... We know that amaranth was and is ceremonially important in parts of Mexico, and it is possible that it had special ritual importance here as well. While there is limited ethnographic evidence from the Pueblos about amaranth use in ritual, the recent discovery of cacao in Chacoan contexts offers another example of a Mesoamerican plant imported with the knowledge to use it, and perhaps with its related ritual significance (Crown and Hurst 2009;Crown et al. 2015). ...
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We report here the first domesticated amaranth ( Amaranthus spp.) seeds to be identified at a Chacoan great house, from the northern New Mexico site known as Aztec North, where they were found in a context that dates to the mid to late twelfth century AD. Amaranth has long been recognized as an important prehispanic resource in this region, evidenced by the archaeological record of both wild and domesticated forms and by the traditional knowledge and practices of Indigenous communities. Wild amaranth and similar-appearing chenopod/goosefoot ( Chenopodium spp.) seeds are routinely found in Ancestral Puebloan contexts. Recent archaeological testing at the Aztec North great house, a Chaco Canyon outlier associated with a post-Chacoan political center, has revealed the presence of uncharred domesticated amaranth seeds in a thin layer of ashy trash in a room at the rear of the great house. These seeds expand our understanding of domesticated amaranth in the American Southwest and suggest centuries of continuity of traditional amaranth cultivation within Puebloan communities.
... Salt, ceramics, shells, turquoise, obsidian, cacao, and scarlet macaws are among the valuable and exotic goods that moved through the extensive Chacoan (pre-Chacoan?) network (Baldwin, 1972;Riley, 1975;Crown and Hurst, 2009;Arakawa et al., 2011;Washburn et al., 2011;Watson et al., 2015). We suggest that nutritious, easily transported tubers of S. jamesii joined this procession, moving north and west and carrying highly biased gene pool samples, a fraction of which became established at distant habitation sites. ...
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Premise: Plant domestication can be detected when transport, use, and manipulation of propagules impact reproductive functionality, especially in species with self-incompatible breeding systems. Methods: Evidence for human-caused founder effect in the Four Corners potato (Solanum jamesii Torr.) was examined by conducting 526 controlled matings between archaeological and non-archaeological populations from field-collected tubers grown in a greenhouse. Specimens from 24 major herbaria and collection records from >160 populations were examined to determine which produced fruits. Results: Archaeological populations did not produce any fruits when self-crossed or outcrossed between individuals from the same source. A weak ability to self- or outcross within populations was observed in non-archaeological populations. Outcrossing between archaeological and non-archaeological populations, however, produced fully formed, seed-containing fruits, especially with a non-archaeological pollen source. Fruit formation was observed in 51 of 162 occurrences, with minimal evidence of constraint by monsoonal drought, lack of pollinators, or spatial separation of suitable partners. Some archaeological populations (especially those along ancient trade routes) had records of fruit production (Chaco Canyon), while others (those in northern Arizona, western Colorado, and southern Utah) did not. Conclusions: The present study suggests that archaeological populations could have different origins at different times-some descending directly from large gene pools to the south and others derived from gardens already established around occupations. The latter experienced a chain of founder events, which presumably would further reduce genetic diversity and mating capability. Consequently, some archaeological populations lack the genetic ability to sexually reproduce, likely as the result of human-caused founder effect.
... Sin embargo, el consumo de cacao y la preparación del chocolate se desarrollaron en tiempos ancestrales en la región de Mesoamérica. Para la cultura de los Olmecas en México el consumo de cacao ha sido documentado durante más de 3,000 años (Crown and Hurst, 2009;Powis et ál., 2011). De igual manera, se ha identificado en Honduras en una vasija encontrada en el sitio arqueológico "Puerto Escondido" en el valle de Sula, restos de bebida de cacao preparados entre 1,400 a 1,000 años a.C. (Henderson et ál., 2007). ...
... Early hypotheses suggested that Mesoamerican pochteca traders directly contacted and dominated Southwestern groups (e.g., Di Peso et al., 1974;Kelley and Kelley, 1975), while others have suggested local development that made use of rare, non-local ideas and materials (e.g., McGuire, 1980;Whalen and Minnis, 2003). Regardless of how this interaction arose, studies of materials like cacao (Theobroma cacao) (Crown, 2018;Crown and Hurst, 2009;Mathiowetz, 2018), copper bells (Hosler, 1994;Vargas, 1995Vargas, , 2001, scarlet macaws (Crown, 2016;Gilman et al., 2014Gilman et al., , 2019Somerville et al., 2010), and architecture such as ballcourts (Harmon, 2006;Wilcox, 1991) have made clear that material and ideological interaction occurred between these macro-regions. However, the means through which these objects and ideas reached the SW/NW remain elusive. ...
Preprint
The pre-Hispanic settlement of Paquime (1150/1200–1450 CE) in northwestern Chihuahua exhibits extensive evidence of exchange connections with distant communities, including the remains of over 300 scarlet macaws (Ara macao), brilliantly plumed birds whose geographic origins lie at least 1000 km southeast in the humid lowlands of Mexico. Archaeological and historic records indicate that these birds were prized for their many cosmological associations, the multi-colored feathers which were widely traded and used in ceremonial attire, and their ability to mimic human speech. We use archaeological and isotopic investigations to infer the diet and geographic origin(s) of Paquime’s scarlet macaw population. We examine 29 scarlet macaw bone samples from Paquime using radiogenic strontium isotope analysis. Our results demonstrate that Paquime’s scarlet macaw population was primarily raised locally, though Paquime’s inhabitants also acquired scarlet macaws from nearby Casas Grandes region settlements in Chihuahua and extra-regional locales that may have been as far away as their endemic homeland in Veracruz in eastern Mexico. Ultimately, our findings indicate that macaw aviculture at Paquime was complex and not congruent with any single previously proposed model.
... It is native to South America, with its center of origin in the upper Amazonian region spanning Peru, Colombia, Brazil, and Ecuador [1][2][3]. Cacao was initially thought to be domesticated in Southern Mexico and Central America since vessels used by pre-Columbian cultures in Honduras and Mexico contained trace remains of theobromine, confirming the use of cacao products 1800-1000 years BCE [4][5][6][7][8][9]. However, recent archaeological finds reveal that the upper Amazon region was also a center for the domestication of cacao [10]. ...
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The cultivation of cacao represents an income option and a source of employment for thousands of small producers in Central America. In Honduras, due to the demand for fine flavor cacao to produce high-quality chocolate, the number of hectares planted is increasing. In addition, cacao clones belonging to the genetic group named Criollo are in great demand since their white beans lack of bitterness and excellent aroma are used in the manufacturing of premium chocolate. Unfortunately, the low resistance to pests and diseases and less productive potential of Criollo cacao leads to the replacement with vigorous new cultivars belonging to the other genetic groups or admixture of them. In this study, 89 samples showing phenotypic traits of Criollo cacao from four regions of Honduras (Copán, Santa Bárbara, Intibucá, and Olancho) were selected to study their genetic purity using 16 SSR molecular markers. The results showed that some samples belong to the Criollo group while other accessions have genetic characteristics of “Trinitario” or other admixtures cacao types. These results confirm the genetic purity of Criollo cacao in Honduras, reaffirming the theory that Mesoamerica is a cacao domestication center and also serves to generate interest in the conservation of this genetic wealth both in-situ and ex-situ.
... Long-distance connections between Mesoamerica and the U.S. Southwest have been dated back to the beginning of the first millennium AD. The use of chocolate pots-which combine the Mesoamerican cylinder form with Southwest decorative styles-dates to between AD 1000 and 1125 (Crown & Hurst 2009), and feathers of the neotropical scarlet macaw are documented in Chaco Canyon at AD 900-1150 (Watson et al. 2015). Distinctively shaped chocolate-drinking pots and brightly coloured feathers both represent material remains of behaviours employed by ancient U.S. Southwest elites to demonstrate ties with their Mesoamerican counterparts. ...
... Mesoamerican-inspired ritual practices are also known from the U.S. Southwest (e.g. Crown & Hurst 2009;Watson et al. 2015) at the beginning of the first millennium AD, after a new expansionary religion developed in Mesoamerica (see Ringle et al. 1998). The discovery and dating of the Las Mercedes chacmool (see Figure 1) to AD 1000-1200 situates the rituals undertaken at this paramount chiefly centre in Costa Rica within the larger Pan-American world of rulers and shared public ceremonies. ...
... And under what conditions did quotidian foods become highly prized, in some cases becoming sumptuary or commodified? Food plants such as cacao (Theobroma cacao) were frequently incorporated into Classic Maya ritual practice and funerary contexts (Beliaev, Davletshin, and Tokovinine 2009;Carter and Matsumoto, this volume;Hall et al. 1990;McNeil 2006McNeil , 2009Prufer and Hurst 2007), as well as widely traded inter-and intra-regionally (Crown and Hurst 2009;Harrison-Buck 2017). Political models have framed cacao as an elite-controlled ritual foodstuff or market commodity (e.g., Mc-Anany 1995), with some limited use as currency (Stuart 2006), while other models frame the emergence of cacao in terms of dowries, bride wealth, and principles of descent and lineage formation (e.g., Harrison-Buck 2017). ...
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From Fighting with Food to Feasts, anthropological literature has long demonstrated the active social role of food, as substance as much as symbol. Foodstuffs in the Maya area created obligation, bound people together, marked difference, ritualized practice, and incentivized social movement. Plants, as primary or even sole ingredients, occupied a special place in these dynamics. Beyond basic nutritional building blocks, plants were active agents, socially marshalled to amass labor for monumental projects such as terraces and canals, valued as (fickle) commodities in long-distance trade, and assembled in elaborate dishes for large-scale ceremonial feasts. Moreover, day-to-day activities reinforced or overturned social norms through the medium of food-- collection, preparation, and consumption. Social messages were ingested, as much as they were transformed and maintained through ingestion. All of this aside from the many ways food plants were used in ritualized practice but not ever physically consumed by ancient Maya participants. Drawing from the writings of scholars including Mary Weismantel, Marshall McLuhan, and Charles Saunders Peirce, I consider the ways that food plants in the Maya area operated simultaneously as icons, indices, and symbols, often independently of human intention and sometimes in opposition. Using published work by other scholars, as well as paleoethnobotanical data I’ve collected from multiple sites in the Maya area, I draw a picture of plants that were manipulated for social ends as frequently as they actively manipulated the worlds around them. From transported landscapes to trade wars, food plants played dynamic roles in the lives of ancient Maya people. This perspective goes beyond the basic matter of subsistence to get at the heart of sociality.
... These cups are similar to those used in the Mayan areas to serve a chocolate beverage in political rituals. Crown and Hurst (2009) suggest that the Chaco vessels were used in a similar way. The presence of these goods in the Great Houses show that Chacoans were aware of Mesoamerican luxuries and that Mesoamericans would also know about Chaco's goods. ...
Technical Report
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Human processing of animal hides is an ancient technology that provided a wide array of products useful for clothing, shelter, transportation, warfare, and ceremonies. In North America, numerous prehistoric and historic trade routes existed to move hides from areas of high supply (e.g., Great Plains bison herds) to areas of high human density and demand for hides, but with low supply (e.g., western salmon-bearing rivers, early agricultural zones in the southwest and along the Mississippi River). Many of these extant Native American hide trading routes were tapped by the Spanish, French, and British after ~AD 1500 to provide hides to the European market. In the southwest, for the prehistoric period ~AD 500 to ~1200, one of the strongest gradients between hide supply and demand lay between the southwestern edge of heavily used bison range, then on the central plains north of the Arkansas River near modern-day Denver, Colorado, and the Hohokam agricultural lands in the modern-day Phoenix basin of Arizona. It is likely that a hide trade route existed between these areas of supply and demand. If so, Chaco Canyon and its amazing array of engineered buildings and roads lay right along a “least cost route”, and are possibly linked with the movement and trade of hides. This paper uses comparative ethnology and historic literature on wildlife abundance, hide hunting, and trade networks to describe how Chaco Canyon could have functioned as an exchange center along the route until ~AD 1150. It describes some potential causes for the collapse of this potential network, and how southwest trade routes were then re-established further southwards after the expansion of bison herds onto the southern plains after ~AD 1350. These new trading routes and exchange systems were documented by the Spanish in the period after AD 1534.
... Additionally, there is evidence for extensive interregional connections and trade that likely worked to shape the cultural lives and material expressions of many southwestern peoples (Crown and Hurst 2009;Eckert 2007;Franklin and Schleher 2012;Hibben 1960Hibben , 1966Hibben , 1967Schaafsma 2009;Washburn 2019). Evidence for networking with other places throughout the Southwest and Mesoamerica comes from iconography (Hays-Gilpin and Hill 1999; Schaafsma 2009;Washburn 2019), trade goods (Crown and Hurst 2009;Crown et al. 2015;McGuire 2005), and various architectural features (Haury 1945). ...
... Additionally, there is evidence for extensive interregional connections and trade that likely worked to shape the cultural lives and material expressions of many southwestern peoples (Crown and Hurst 2009;Eckert 2007;Franklin and Schleher 2012;Hibben 1960Hibben , 1966Hibben , 1967Schaafsma 2009;Washburn 2019). Evidence for networking with other places throughout the Southwest and Mesoamerica comes from iconography (Hays-Gilpin and Hill 1999; Schaafsma 2009;Washburn 2019), trade goods (Crown and Hurst 2009;Crown et al. 2015;McGuire 2005), and various architectural features (Haury 1945). ...
... Aside from iconography, evidence for contact with Mesoamerica includes traces of cacao discovered in cylinder jars from Chaco Canyon, whose shapes are reminiscent of those found in Mesoamerica (Crown and Hurst 2009). Macaws-birds native to South and Central America-have been found in a variety of contexts in the U.S. Southwest. ...