August 10, 2014

12th Century Violence at Mesa Verde

From 1140-1180 CE, several centuries of relative peace in central Mesa Verde, Colorado, broke down into widespread violence. Washington State University and University of Colorado at Boulder archaeologists found that nine out of ten sets of human remains in this area had trauma to their heads or other parts of their body.  In the northern Rio Grande, during the same time period, there was far less violence despite the same growth and population pressure. The northern Southwest went from 40,000 population in the mid 1200s to zero in 30 years. the northern Rio Grande people were able to join and identify with larger pueblo organizations and societies. They also had more commercial exchange, so that people were able to obtain what they wanted and needed. In the central Mesa Verde, there was less specialization. Trade and commerce appears to be a pacifying influence on populations. After 1160 CE, Chaco and its surrounding communities disappeared as a result of drought and an out migration of populations that left the remaining smaller populations there vulnerable to raids.
Past Horizons has the report on the study which will be published in American Antiquity;

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