The Pueblo Indian Occupation of the Mesa Verde Region: A People Transformed by the Neolithic Revolution
The Neolithic Revolution refers to what may be the most important transformation in human history: the shift from hunting and gathering to domesticated food production. The Mesa Verde Region of southwestern Colorado is one of the best documented cases in the world of the expansion of this new Neolithic life way. The introduction of maize (corn) farming into the region marks the beginning of one of the world’s most innovative and resilient cultures: Pueblo Indian society. The Crow Canyon Archaeological Center, located just outside of Cortez, Colorado, has conducted research into the deep history of Pueblo peoples since its founding in 1983. The origins of Pueblo society in the Mesa Verde region is the focus of two of the Center’s current research initiatives: The Village Ecodynamics Project, or VEP, and the Basketmaker Communities Project, or BCP.
Funded by the National Science Foundation, the VEP uses computer simulation and the analysis of all known archaeological sites in the Mesa Verde region to document the specifics of the Neolithic Revolution in southwestern Colorado and to reconstruct the long-term (A.D. 600–1300) interaction between Pueblo people and their environment. The BCP examines the initial period of settlement in the region during the Basketmaker III period (A.D. 550–725).
One consequence of the Neolithic Revolution is a period of exponential population growth known as the Neolithic Demographic Transition. This population growth was accompanied by unprecedented rates of culture change. The VEP examines this dramatic transformation of Pueblo society in the Mesa Verde region and clarifies why the region was completely depopulated at the end of the thirteenth century.
Join other TAS members and our speaker for Dinner at 5PM
Guadalajara Grill South, 1384 Paseo del Pueblo Sur, Taos, across from Ace Hardware.
Arrive between 5:00 and 5:30 PM, place your order at the front, and take your number to the back room. No reservations needed.
Mark your calendar - Our annual TAS Holiday gathering is on Dec 1, 2015.
Mark Varien Bio Sketch:
Mark Varien currently serves as the Executive Vice President of the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center Research Institute in Cortez, Colorado. Crow Canyon’s three-part mission seeks to increase knowledge of the human experience through archaeological research, to conduct that research in the context of public education programs, and to partner with American Indians on the design and delivery of those research and education programs. Formed as a new initiative in 2014, the Crow Canyon Research Institute seeks to create an institution without walls—a network of archaeologists, other social scientists, native scholars, and educators—that will conduct archaeology in the public interest and improve our understanding of the human experience for the betterment of society.
Mark received a B. A. in Archaeological Studies (1976) and M. A. in Anthropology (1984) from the University of Texas at Austin. He was awarded a Ph.D. in Anthropology from Arizona State University (1997). Mark’s Ph.D. dissertation was awarded the Society of American Archaeology’s 1998 Best Dissertation Award.
Mark joined the staff at Crow Canyon in 1987, where he served as a research archaeologist (1987−1997), director of research (1997−2007), vice president of programs (2007–2010), Research and Education Chair (2010–2014). His first book, Sedentism and Mobility in a Social Landscape, was published in 1999 by the University of Arizona Press. Since then, he has published numerous other books as edited volumes, including Seeking the Center Place: Archaeology and Ancient Communities in the Mesa Verde Region (2002, University of Utah Press), The Social Construction of Communities: Agency, Structure, and Identity in the Prehispanic Southwest (2008, AltaMira Press), Leaving Mesa Verde: Peril and Change in the Thirteenth Century Southwest (2010), and Emergence and Collapse of Early Villages: Models of Central Mesa Verde Region Archaeology (2012, University of California Press). He has also published articles many scientific, peer-reviewed journals, including American Antiquity, Kiva, Ancient Mesoamerica, and World Archaeology, and he has published works for the interested public, including a contribution to The Mesa Verde World and articles in Scientific American and American Scientist.
Mark’s research interests include household and community organization, migration studies, the formation of cultural landscapes, human impact on the environment, the human response to climate change, archaeology and public education, and American Indian involvement in archaeology.