Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation


A New Archaeological History of Aztec Ruins, New Mexico: Excavating the Archives Public Deposited

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  • My research focuses on the Chacoan to post Chaco Phenomenon (c. AD 900-1300) in the US Southwest. I am particularly interested in how political and social complexity was manifested at Chaco’s successor, Aztec Ruins (c. AD 1100-1300). My dissertation draws on previously under-inspected museum collections—including historical documents and photographs of early archaeological work compiled a century ago by Colorado archaeologist Earl Morris. My intents are twofold. First, I have worked to develop new databases, hybridized maps and forensic photographic analysis in order to compile disparate data sources and pull them together in archaeologically meaningful ways; and secondly, I am using multi-modal analysis, drawn from the field of education, to propose a new framework of prehistoric narrative that allows Aztec’s inhabitants to tell their own stories within an historical framework constructed by multiple lines of archaeological evidence. I hope to contribute to the field of Anthropology in two ways: 1) To develop new methods to mine disparate kinds of data for evidence that moves the field toward richer and more applicable theory building; and 2) To apply these historical data to broader anthropological questions related to Southwest prehistory. I am especially interested in posing and testing methods to reconstruct ancient demography, assess factors that led to site abandonment, collect and contribute to in situ perishable artifact studies of objects that have been lost, and add to the extant literature on health and violence. Drawing upon, and occasionally challenging, previously held models concerning Chacoan political organization, my dissertation research contends that the final century of Aztec’s occupation was fraught with episodic strife and inconsiderate burial, veneration of elite members, a period of Chaco revivalism, and a final catastrophic end.

Date Issued
  • 2016-01-01
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Last Modified
  • 2020-01-29
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