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Anasazi  

[Navajo: ‘the ancient ones’]

Term applied to the prehistoric ‘Basketmakers’ (fl to c. ad 750) of the south-western United States and their successors, the Pueblo tribes, who still live in the region. The Anasazi are famous for their communal buildings, many now ruined, which were known as ‘pueblos’ by the first Spanish explorers (see Native North American art, §II, 2). The most celebrated of these stone and adobe structures were multi-room, multi-family dwellings built atop mesas and in natural caves found at the base of canyons (see fig.). Built c. 1100–c. 1300, they are located at various sites, including Mesa Verde in south-west Colorado and Chaco Canyon in north-west New Mexico. The Anasazi also produced painted pottery, basketry, and weaving.

Article

Cahokia  

David M. Jones

Site in the USA in East St Louis, IL, of a huge Pre-Columbian city. Founded c. ad 700, it was the largest prehistoric city ever built north of Mexico and was probably influenced by political and civic ideas from Mesoamerica, Pre-Columbian. At its height, between c. ad 1050 and c. 1250, Cahokia encompassed c. 13 sq. km and had a population of c. 10–15,000. Although located in the north-west part of the middle Mississippi Southern Cult area, it was the political, economic and religious centre for more than 50 towns (see Native North American art, §I, 4, (v)). The exact nature of its power or rule, however, is uncertain. A potential rival in the south-east of the cult area was Moundville, AL, nearly as large. Cahokia began to decline after c. 1250, although some of its satellite towns, at such sites as Angel, Aztatlan, Dickson and Kinkaid, continued to flourish as local centres. A drastic population decline ...

Article

David M. Jones

Archaeological zone in north-west Arizona. Pre-Columbian sites in Canyon de Chelly are attributed to the Anasazi culture (c. 200 bcc. ad 1350) and were built between the 12th and 14th centuries ad when the Anasazi began to abandon their scattered small hamlets on cliff tops for fewer but larger settlements of cliff dwellings. These were constructed in the steep-sided, stream-cut main and subsidiary canyons with numerous overhanging cliffs; on the shelves of such overhangs the Anasazi built blocks of apartment-like structures constructed of adobe bricks or stone blocks (e.g. White House ruins). The removal of the Anasazi from plateau dwellings to cliff dwellings may have been for defence as aggression increased between groups (see also Mesa Verde). The earliest rooms often became storage rooms as later dwellings were built above and in front of them. The blocks were multi-storey and terraced, with access between terraces by wooden ladders. Inter-storey floors–ceilings were made with log rafters. Walls had key-hole and trapezoidal doorways and in some cases square windows. Open spaces in front of the blocks were excavated and filled to create level ceremonial areas, and circular, semi-subterranean ...

Article

R. Gwinn Vivian

Archaeological zone of Pre-Columbian towns and roads in North America, in the San Juan Basin, north-western New Mexico. Chaco Canyon was the centre from c. ad 850–1150 of Chacoan culture, one manifestation of the Anasazi tradition, and considered ancestral to contemporary Pueblo peoples of the Southwest. A community of at least 12 multi-storey, tiered ‘great houses’ and hundreds of contemporaneous single storey ‘small house sites’ were built within a 15 km sector of the canyon. ‘Great houses’ were constructed with core walls with veneer masonry and ranged from 80 to 580 rooms. Small houses were of simpler masonry and averaged about 20 rooms each. Both types were domestic structures, but also contained round ceremonial rooms known as kivas (see Kiva). ‘Great kivas’, up to 18 m in diameter, are restricted to ‘great houses’ or occur as isolated buildings. ‘Great houses’ are associated with elaborate water-control systems that collected and diverted rainfall run-off to gridded agricultural fields. ‘Great houses’ in the canyon itself were linked to ‘outlier’ communities on the peripheries of the San Juan Basin by wide (...

Article

Indigenous inhabitants of the Arctic coasts of Siberia, Alaska, Canada and Greenland. They are biologically classified as Arctic Mongolians and are descended from peoples of a region in north-east Asia, who probably began to migrate c. 12,000 bc. Such peoples generally do not use the term ‘Eskimo’ (‘eaters of raw meat’) of themselves, which was the Canadian Algonquin name for them adopted by European explorers. There are instead three main groups, the largest of whom are the Inuit of Canada and Greenland.

For main discussion see under Native North American art.

Inuit

Native North American art, §I, 1(i): Geography and peoples: Arctic

Native North American art, §I, 6: Status of art and role of the artist

Native North American art, §III, 1: Carving and sculpture: Arctic

Native North American art, §XI, 1: Quillwork: Introduction

Native North American art, §XV, 3(ii)(a): Other late 20th-century developments: Tourist art

Native North American art, §XVII, 1: Historiography: Anthropological approaches...

Article

America’s interest in Pre-Columbian culture began to take tangible form in the 19th century. American explorer John Lloyd Stephens (1805–52) and artist Frederick Catherwood journeyed to Chiapas and the Yucatán peninsula in 1839 to describe and document Mayan ruins. Their research was published in 1841 as Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas and the Yucatan. An expanded two-volume version, Incidents of Travel in the Yucatan, was published in 1843 and contained over 120 woodcut illustrations, and provided the first pictorial views of ancient Mesoamerica.

The ancient sites of Mitla, Palenque, Izamal, Chichén Itzá and Uxmal were first photographed by French photographer and explorer (Claude-Joseph-)Désiré Charnay between 1858 and 1860. The resulting images were collected into a book published in 1863 entitled Cités et ruines américaines, which later included an essay by the influential French architect and theorist Eugène-Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc. Charnay made a second trip to the region from ...

Article

David M. Jones

Pre-Columbian site in the USA, east of Phoenix, AZ. Occupied between c. 300 bc and c. ad 1400, it was founded by indigenous Ootam peoples, but by c. ad 600 it had become the principal site of the Hohokam, who had invaded the region from northern Mexico as early as c. ad 1. The Hohokam town on the upper terrace of the Gila River and the adjacent agricultural fields along the lower terrace covered over 120 ha. The town comprised an estimated 5000 densely packed structures of adobe and wooden log-beams, built and rebuilt over time, of which the ground-plans have been uncovered (see fig.). Dwellings were grouped around wells, mounds, cemeteries of cremation burials, a pottery-making enclave and at least two ballcourts. The culture of the inhabitants was a combination of indigenous evolution and outside introductions. There is strong evidence of influence from Mesoamerica, Pre-Columbian in the building of both earthen platform mounds, in imitation of stone-clad Mesoamerican pyramids, and earthen-sided ballcourts. (Other evidence of the introduction of the ball-game includes latex rubber balls imported from Mesoamerica.) Imported technology included the lost-wax metal-casting technique, to produce copper bells (...

Article

Marie Mauzé

Region of eastern Vancouver Island and the adjacent Canadian–US mainland, opposite the Fraser River delta and canyon. It is the homeland of the Native American Coast Salish and the location of a number of Pre-Columbian sites, including Marpole, Glenrose, St Mungo, Locarno Beach and Musqueam around the Fraser delta. The first art, including sculpture in the round, appeared during the Developmental period (c. 3500–c. 1100 bc). The Marpole site, for example, has yielded ground slate fragments decorated with drilled holes, notched or scalloped edges and patterns of incised lines. Similar decorations were applied to bone and antler. From St Mungo come carvings in bone or soft stone resembling segmented insect larvae (Vancouver, U. BC, Mus. Anthropol.). The most impressive example, from Glenrose, is a small tool handle of antler in the shape of a human figure (Vancouver, U. BC, Mus. Anthropol.). It has a large, deeply carved face, perforated earlobes, almond-shaped eyes and eyebrows and nose forming a ‘y’. It is one the oldest anthropomorphic sculptures from the Northwest Coast (...

Article

David M. Jones

Rock shelter in North America, in the Castle Mountains, AZ. It was occupied in Pre-Columbian times from c. 10,000 bc to c. ad 1300. Ventana Cave was excavated by the American archaeologist Emil Haury and the results were published by the University of New Mexico Press. The earliest layers of occupation contained crude, then more sophisticated, stone tools (including projectile points, of which the type—Clovis or Folsom—is disputed), a variety of faunal remains and shells from the Gulf of California, c. 160 km to the west. The inhabitants practised a hunting–gathering economy. Later layers contained artefacts of the Hohokam culture ( fl c. 300 bcad 1300) of the US Southwest, including evidence of their agricultural way of life ( see also Snaketown ), such as maize-grinding stones, pottery and remains of netting, cordage, basketwork, leather and feather objects and cotton textiles. The pottery is typical of early Hohokam styles, with red-on-buff decorations (...