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A Durable Legacy Construction and Spatial Analysis at sand Canyon Pueblo in the Mesa Verde Country



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Ancestral Pueblo communities of the central Mesa Verde region (CMVR) became increasingly reliant on agriculture for their subsistence needs during Basketmaker III (BMIII) through Terminal Pueblo III (TPIII) (AD 600–1300) periods. Researchers have been studying the Ancestral Pueblo people for over a century using a variety of methods to understand the relationships between climate, agriculture, population, and settlement patterns. While these methods and research have produced a well-developed cultural history of the region, studies at a smaller scale are still needed to understand the changes in farming behavior and the distribution of individual sites across the CMVR. Soil moisture is the limiting factor for crop growth in the semi-arid region of the Goodman Watershed in the CMVR. Thus, I constructed the soil moisture proxy model (SMPM) that is on a local scale and focuses on variables relevant to soil moisture – soil particle-size, soil depth, slope, and aspect. From the SMPM output, the areas of very high soil moisture are assumed to represent desirable farmland locations. I describe the relationship between very high soil moisture and site locations, then I infer the relevance of that relationship to settlement patterns and how those patterns changed over time (BMIII – TPIII). The results of the model and its application help to clarify how Ancestral Pueblo people changed as local farming communities. The results of this study indicates that farmers shifted away from use of preferred farmland during Terminal Pueblo III, which may have been caused by other cultural factors. The general outcome of this thesis is an improved understanding of human-environmental relationships on the local landscape in the CMVR.
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