Paper No. 91-3
Presentation Time: 8:40 AM
WATER, DROUGHTS, AND THE SUSTAINABILITY OF ANCESTRAL PUEBLOAN COMMUNITIES IN THE JEMEZ MOUNTAINS, NEW MEXICO, AD 1100-1700
Do tight correlations between paleoclimatologically identified periods of climate change and archaeological records of social change reflect the successful conclusion of our studies, or merely the beginning? Mega-droughts during the 13th, 15th, and 16th centuries have long been identified as climatic drivers in the culture history of Ancestral and Historic Puebloan peoples of Northern New Mexico, yet preliminary results of an intra-regional comparative study of Ancestral Puebloan water management practices in the Jemez Mountains of New Mexico suggests alternative responses to droughts are potentially more reflective of differences in cultural norms, values, and institutions surrounding resource management than lock-step responses by societies to climatic drivers. Geoarchaeological testing and hydrological modeling of fifteen prehistoric artificial domestic water storage features show differential strategies of water management between the adjacent Southern Jemez and Pajarito Plateaus, even though the environments of both sub-regions are similar and the Ancestral Puebloans of both regions have similar water management technologies. In addition, paleohydrological reconstructions of local spring and stream discharges, some of which are susceptible to low or no flow due to droughts and least cost path studies of travel time to these alternative natural water sources provide proxy measures for the impacts of droughts on both resource acquisition costs and the potential for prehistoric communities to be vulnerable to periods of water scarcity.