July 17, 2019
New Research on Ancient Chaco Canyon Population Viability
Researchers at Chaco Canyon have carried out a detailed analysis of the climate and hydrology of the Chaco area and have found that its soil could not support the farming necessary to feed large populations. Dryland farming is impossible there due to lack of rainfall. Flash floods were also a constant source of destruction. Chacoans could only have farmed 100 acres, and could not have grown enough corn for over 1000 people. Deer and rabbits and small game would have been cleared out completely with 2,300 people to feed.
Importing food to feed 2,300 people from outside of the canyon would have required porters to make 18,000 trips by foot annually. So either Chacoans would have had to do this, or perhaps the structures in Chaco were only inhabited at times of pilgrimages from outside the canyon.
There research is published in the Journal of Archaeological Science.
And Colorado.edu has a report here
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