Settlement change documentation and analysis: a case study from the Mogollon region of the American Southwest
Linse, Angela R., 1961-
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American archaeologists have been interested in changing patterns of prehistoric settlement for more than 50 years. Despite this interest, many settlement patterns remain poorly documented and unexplained. Adherence to the concepts of site and phase restrict the scales at which change is observed and explanations are sought. In this dissertation, I devise an alternative system for chronicling changes in prehistoric settlement. To justify the need for a new approach, I conduct an historical analysis of settlement research in a particular region, part of the Mogollon territory in New Mexico.The alternative strategy for settlement analysis differs from traditional approaches in three important ways. First, I alter the spatial scale of the unit of observation to the structure, the smallest unit of settlement in the area. Second, I examine data from a large area, which increases the sample size of available data and permits documentation of intraregional settlement variability. Third, I assign age-ranges to structures rather than sites, which improves the chronological resolution and makes possible identification of incremental, gradual, or short-term settlement change.This system for documenting settlement change permits me to use and make sense of settlement data from disparate sources for over 2000 excavated Mogollon structures. The utility of the approach is demonstrated when I use a portion of the newly compiled database to evaluate one of the most widely accepted settlement patterns in the study area---the abandonment of inaccessible landforms for accessible landforms at around A.D. 550.I evaluate whether the settlement shift occurred as proposed and investigate variables implicit in the definitions of accessible and inaccessible landforms. Although the settlement pattern is not supported by available data, two other settlement changes occur later in the temporal sequence. Additional analyses show that accessibility is a multivariate that includes relative elevation, distance to water, and possibly additional geomorphic variables.This research has implications for explanation of settlement changes within the Mogollon region and elsewhere settlement patterns are identified using a phase chronology and site-scale data collection. The approach is applicable in any area with discrete and archaeologically visible units of settlement.
- Anthropology