Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Who Killed the Cliff Dwellers

Historians and archeologists have long debated the whys and wherefores that caused the collapse of the Pueblo or Chacoan culture. These peoples dwelt in the American South West, in and around what is today northern New Mexico and Colorado. They built impressive buildings, farmsteads, villages and what not throughout the region. They eventually moved out of the low lying valleys and up and onto the walls of valleys and steep canyons. The society lasted about 3-500 years. It originated in the broader region where the Chacoans had dwelt for a much longer time, farming and building (their ruins litter the region) and then, for some unknown reason moved to the cliffs.

But why they moved to the valleys and cliffs and then why the society collapsed after only a few hundreds years has been a mystery.

It has become a recent thing that deforestation caused the collapse. Its been touted so much that its become . . . like the asteroid and the dinosaurs . . . an accepted fact. The indians destroyed the native plants and killed the eco-system.

Turns out that might not be true. Recent studies have shown no evidence for deforestation and no evidence that the Indians destroyed their local environment.

Read on.

My guess . . . and its utterly a guess . . . that outside pressure drove the Chacoans into the valleys and cliffs. I've recently visited those things and attacking them with stone age weaponry would be next to impossible. They are perfect for defense. Except for water.

So pressure put upon a people from another people might have driven them to the cliffs. We know these people abandoned their cliff dwellings and began moving south, west and east around the year 1450. It is highly possible that continued pressure from other groups drove them south. (one has but to look what the Sioux did to the Pawnee, or the Commanche to the Apache and you can see how the early Americans pushed one the other from this region or that).

Good article linked above.


post script: environmental science seems to have leaked into every other branch of the sciences today. Its a bit unnerving.

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