One of the basic challenges facing archaeology is translating surface evidence into population estimates with sufficient chronological resolution for demographic analysis. The problem is especially acute when one is working with sites inhabited across multiple chronological periods and the production curves for pottery types are unknown. In this paper, I present a Bayesian statistical method which I call uniform probability density analysis that is tailored to this situation. This method combines uniform distributions derived from the local pottery chronology with pottery assemblage data to reconstruct the population history of individual settlements. I also illustrate applications of this method at the site and regional level using data from Cuyamungue and the surrounding Tewa Basin/VEP II New Mexico project area. The results allow one to identify a period of significant population movement corresponding to the period of Tewa ethnogenesis in the thirteenth century CE.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Anschuetz, K. F. (2005). Landscapes as memory: archaeological history to learn from and to live by. In M. Hegmon & S. Eiselt (Eds.), Engaged anthropology: essays in honor of Richard I. Ford. Ann Arbor: Museum of Anthropology, University of Michigan.
Anschuetz, K. F. (2007). Room to grow with rooms to spare: agriculture and big-site settlements in the late Pre-Columbian tewa basin pueblo landscape. Kiva, 73(2), 173–194.
Bandelier, A. F. (1892). Final report of investigations among the Indians of the Southwestern United States, carried on mainly from the years 1880–1885, part II. (Papers of the Archaeological Institute Of America, American Series). Cambridge: Wilson.
Barrett, E. M. (2002). Conquest and catastrophe: changing Rio Grande pueblo settlement patterns in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press.
Bayliss, A. (2009). Rolling out revolution: using radiocarbon dating in archaeology. Radiocarbon, 51(1), 123–147.
Bayliss, A., & Bronk Ramsey, C. (2004). Pragmatic Bayesians: a decade of integrating radiocarebon dates into chronological models. In C. E. Buck & A. R. Millard (Eds.), Tools for constructing chronologies: crossing disciplinary boundaries (pp. 25–41, lecture notes in statistics) (pp. 25–41). London: Springer.
Beal, J. D. (1987). Foundations of the Rio Grande classic: the lower Chama River A.D. 1300–1500 (vol. 137, research series). Santa Fe: Southwest Archaeological Consultants, Inc.
Bellanger, L., & Husi, P. (2012). Statistical tool for dating and interpreting archaeological contexts using pottery. Journal of Archaeological Science, 39(2012), 777–790.
Blakeslee, D. J. (1989). On estimating household populations in archaeological sites, with an example from the Nebraska phase. Plains Anthropologist, 34(124, Pt. 2), 3–16.
Boyer, J. L., Moore, J. L., Lakatos, S. A., Akins, N. J., Wilson, C. D., & Blinman, E. (2010). Remodeling immigration: a Northern Rio Grande perspective on depopulation, migration, and donation-side models. In T. A. Kohler, M. D. Varien, & A. Wright (Eds.), Leaving mesa Verde: peril and change in the thirteenth-century southwest (pp. 285–323). Tucson: University of Arizona Press.
Bronk Ramsey, C. (2009). Bayesian analysis of radiocarbon dates. Radiocarbon, 51(1), 337–360.
Brown, B. M. (1987). Population estimation from floor area: a restudy of “Naroll’s constant”. Behavior Science Research, 22(1–4), 1–49.
Buck, C. E. (2004). Bayesian chronological data interpretation: where now? In C. E. Buck & A. R. Millard (Eds.), Tools for constructing chronologies: crossing disciplinary boundaries (pp. 1–24, lecture notes in statistics). London: Springer.
Buck, C. E., Cavanaugh, W. G., & Linton, C. D. (1996). Bayesian approach to interpreting archaeological data. New York: Wiley.
Cameron, C. M. (1990). The effect of varying estimates of pit structure use-life on prehistoric population estimates in the American Southwest. Kiva, 55, 155–166.
Christenson, A. L. (1994). A test of mean ceramic dating using well-dated Kayenta Anasazi sites. Kiva, 59, 297–317.
Collard, M., Edinborough, K., Shennan, S., & Thomas, M. G. (2010). Radiocarbon evidence indicates that migrants introduced farming to Britain. Journal of Archaeological Science, 37(2010), 866–870.
Collins, S. M. (1975). Prehistoric Rio Grande settlement patterns and the inference of demographic change. Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Colorado, Boulder, Boulder.
Cook, S. F., & Heizer, R. F. (1968). Relationships among houses, settlement areas, and population in Aboriginal California. In K. C. Chang (Ed.), Settlement archaeology (pp. 79–116). Palo Alto: National Press Books.
Cordell, L. S. (1995). Tracing migration pathways from the receiving end. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology, 14, 203–211.
Cordell, L. S., & Damp, N. E. (2010). Adobe melt-down. In E. J. Brown, K. Armstrong, D. M. Brugge, & C. J. Condie (Eds.), Threads, tints, and edification, papers in honor of Glenna Dean (pp. 49–59). Albuquerque: Papers of the Archaeological Society of New Mexico 36.
Creamer, W. (1993). The architecture of arroyo Hondo pueblo, New Mexico (vol. 7, Arroyo Hondo archaeological series). Santa Fe: School of American Research Press.
Crown, P. L., Orcutt, J. D., & Kohler, T. A. (1996). Pueblo cultures in transition: the Northern Rio Grande. In M. A. Adler (Ed.), The prehistoric Pueblo World, A.D. 1150–1350 (pp. 188–204). Tucson: University of Arizona Press.
Curtis, E. S. (1926). The North American Indian, volume 17
Dean, J. S. (1969). Chronological analysis of tsegi phase sites in Northeastern Arizona. Tucson: Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research.
Dickson, D. B., Jr. (1979). Prehistoric Pueblo settlement patterns: the Arroyo Hondo, New Mexico, site survey. Santa Fe: School of American Research.
Downey, S. S., Bocaege, E., Kerig, T., Edinborough, K., & Shennan, S. (2014). The neolithic demographic transition in Europe: correlation with juvenility index supports interpretation of the Summed Calibrated Radiocarbon Date Probability Distribution (SCDPD) as a valid demographic proxy. PloS One, 9(8), e105730. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0105730.
Duwe, S. G. (2011). The Prehispanic Tewa world: space, time and becoming in the Pueblo Southwest. Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Arizona, Tucson.
Duwe, S. G., & Anschuetz, K. F. (2013). Ecological uncertainty and organizational flexibility on the Prehispanic Tewa landscape: notes from the northern frontier. In B. J. Vierra (Ed.), From mountain top to valley bottom: understanding past land use in the northern Rio Grande Valley, New Mexico (pp. 95–112). Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press.
Dyer, J. B. (2008). Middle Rio Grande ceramic reference manual, volume I: Cochiti Pueblo to Socorro, New Mexico. Albuquerque: Bureau of Reclamation.
Eighmy, J. L. (1979). Logistic trends in southwest population growth. In C. Renfrew & K. L. Cooke (Eds.), Transformations: mathematical approaches to culture (pp. 205–220). New York: Academic.
Ellis, F. H. (1989). San Gabriel de Yungue: as seen by an archaeologist. Santa Fe: Sunstone Press.
Fallon, D., & Wening, K. (1987). Howiri: excavation at a Northern Rio Grande biscuit ware site (laboratory of anthropology notes 261b). Santa Fe: Museum of New Mexico.
Fowles, S. M. (2004). Tewa versus Tiwa: Northern Rio Grande settlement patterns and social history, A.D. 1275 to 1540. In E. C. Adams & A. I. Duff (Eds.), The protohistoric Pueblo World, A.D. 1275–1600 (pp. 17–25). Tucson: University of Arizona Press.
Graves, M. W. (1983). Growth and aggregation at canyon creek ruin: implications for evolutionary change in East-Central Arizona. American Antiquity, 48(2), 290–315.
Greenlee, R. (1933). Archaeological sites in the Chama Valley, and report on excavations at Tsama, 1929–1933. Santa Fe: Manuscript on file (P651), Laboratory of Anthropology, Museum of New Mexico.
Harrington, J. P. (1916). The ethnogeography of the Tewa Indians. In 29th Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology (pp. 29–618). Washington: Government Printing Office.
Hewett, E. L. (1906). Antiquities of the Jemez Plateau, New Mexico (Bureau of American Ethnology bulletin 32). Washington: Smithsonian Institution.
Hill, J. B., Clark, J. J., Doelle, W. H., & Lyons, P. D. (2004). Prehistoric demography in the southwest: migration, coalescence, and Hohokam population decline. American Antiquity, 69(4), 689–716.
Iversen, G. R. (1984). Bayesian statistical inference. Newbury Park: Sage Publications.
Kidder, A. V. (1924). An introduction to the study of southwestern archaeology with a preliminary account of the excavations at Pecos. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Kohler, T. A., & Blinman, E. (1987). Solving mixture problems in archaeology: analysis of ceramic materials for dating and demographic reconstruction. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology, 6, 1–28.
Kohler, T. A., & Root, M. J. (2004). The Late Coalition and Earliest Classic on the Pajarito Plateau (A.D. 1250–1375). In T. A. Kohler (Ed.), Archaeology of Bandelier national monument: village formation on the pajarito plateau, New Mexico (pp. 173–214). Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press.
Kohler, T. A., & Varien, M. D. (Eds.). (2012). Emergence and collapse of early villages: models of Central Mesa Verde archaeology. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Kohler, T. A., Varien, M. D., & Wright, A. M. (Eds.). (2010). Leaving Mesa Verde: peril and change in the thirteenth-century southwest. Tucson: University of Arizona Press.
Kohler, T. A., Ortman, S. G., Grundtisch, K. E., Fitzpatrick, C., & Cole, S. M. (2014). The better angels of their nature: declining violence through time among prehispanic farmers of the Pueblo Southwest. American Antiquity, 79(3), 444–464.
Kulisheck, J. (2010). “Like Butterflies on a Mounting Board”: Pueblo mobility and demography before 1825. In L. L. Scheiber & M. D. Mitchell (Eds.), Across a great divide: continuity and change in native North American societies, 1400–1900 (pp. 174–191). Tucson: University of Arizona Press.
Lakatos, S. (2007). Cultural continuity and the development of integrative architecture in the Northern Rio Grande Valley of New Mexico, A.D. 600–1200. Kiva, 73(1), 31–66.
Lekson, S. H. (1986). Great pueblo architecture of Chaco Canyon, New Mexico. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press.
Lipe, W. D. (2010). Lost in transit: the Central Mesa Verde archaeological complex. In T. A. Kohler, M. D. Varien, & A. Wright (Eds.), Leaving Mesa Verde: peril and change in the thirteenth-century southwest (pp. 262–284). Tucson: University of Arizona Press.
Luebben, R. A. (1953). Leaf water site. In F. Wendorf (Ed.), Salvage archaeology in the Chama Valley, New Mexico (pp. 9–33, Monographs of the School of American Research No. 17). Santa Fe.
Marshall, M. P., & Walt, H. (2007). The eastern homeland of San Juan pueblo: tewa land and water use in the Santa Cruz and Truchas watersheds: an archaeological and ethnogeographic study (prepared for Ohkay Owingeh (San Juan) Pueblo). Corrales: Cibola Research Consultants. Report No 432.
Maxwell, T. D. (1994) Prehistoric population change in the lower Rio Chama Valley, Northwestern New Mexico. In 59th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Anaheim. CA.
Mera, H. P. (1934). A survey of the biscuit ware area in northern New Mexico (technical series, bulletin no. 6). Santa Fe: Laboratory of Anthropology.
Mera, H. P. (1935). Ceramic clues to the prehistory of north central New Mexico (vol. 8, Laboratory Of Anthropology technical series, bulletin). Santa Fe: Laboratory of Anthropology.
Mills, B. J., Clark, J. J., Peeples, M. A., Haas, W. R., Jr., Roberts, J. M., Jr., Hill, J. B., et al. (2013). Transformation of social networks in the late Pre-Hispanic US southwest. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science of the U.S.A, 110(15), 5785–5790. doi:10.1073/pnas.1219966110.
Naranjo, T. (1995). Thoughts on migration by Santa Clara pueblo. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology, 14, 247–250.
Naranjo, T. (2006). We came from the South, we came from the North: some Tewa origin stories. In D. G. Noble (Ed.), The Mesa Verde world (pp. 49–57). Santa Fe: School of American Research Press.
Naroll, R. (1962). Floor area and settlement population. American Antiquity, 27, 587–589.
Orcutt, J. D. (1999a). Chronology. In R. P. Powers & J. D. Orcutt (Eds.), The Bandelier archaeological survey: volume I (pp. 85–116). Santa Fe: Intermountain Cultural Resource Management Professional Paper 57.
Orcutt, J. D. (1999b). Demography, settlement, and agriculture. In R. P. Powers & J. D. Orcutt (Eds.), The Bandelier archaeological survey: volume I (pp. 219–308). Santa Fe: Intermountain Cultural Resource Management Professional Paper 57.
Ortman, S. G. (2003). Artifacts. In K. A. Kuckelman (Ed.), The archaeology of yellow jacket Pueblo: excavations at a large community center in Southwestern Colorado [HTML title]: Available: http://www.crowcanyon.org/yellowjacket.
Ortman, S. G. (2008). Action, place and space in the Castle Rock Community. In M. D. Varien, & J. M. Potter (Eds.), The social construction of communities: studies of agency, structure and identity in the Southwestern U. S. (pp. 125–154): Altamira Press.
Ortman, S. G. (2010). Evidence of a Mesa Verde homeland for the Tewa Pueblos. In T. A. Kohler, M. D. Varien, & A. Wright (Eds.), Leaving Mesa Verde: peril and change in the thirteenth century southwest (pp. 222–261). Tucson: University of Arizona Press.
Ortman, S. G. (2011a). Bowls to gardens: a history of Tewa community metaphors. In D. M. Glowacki & S. Van Keuren (Eds.), Religious transformation in the late prehispanic pueblo world (pp. 84–108). Tucson: University of Arizona Press.
Ortman, S. G. (2011b). Using cognitive semantics to relate Mesa Verde archaeology to modern pueblo languages. In G. S. Cabana & J. J. Clark (Eds.), Rethinking anthropological perspectives on migration (pp. 111–146). Gainesville: University Press of Florida.
Ortman, S. G. (2012a). Bayesian probability density analysis and population history at San Marcos Pueblo, New Mexico [HTML Title]: Available: http://www.santafe.edu/media/workingpapers/12-07-009.pdf.
Ortman, S. G. (2012b). Winds from the north: Tewa origins and historical anthropology. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press.
Ortman, S. G. (2014). Why all archaeologists should care about and do population estimates. In C. Herhahn & A. F. Ramenofsky (Eds.), Proceedings of the 13th Southwest symposium. Boulder: University Press of Colorado.
Ortman, S. G., Varien, M., & Gripp, T. L. (2007). Empirical Bayesian methods for archaeological survey data: an example from the Mesa Verde Region. American Antiquity, 72(1), 241–272.
Ortman, S. G., Cabaniss, A. H. F., Sturm, J. O., & Bettencourt, L. M. A. (2014). The prehistory of urban scaling. PloS One, 9(2), e87902. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0087902.
Peckham, S. L. (1981). The Palisade Ruin. In A. H. Schroeder (Ed.), Collected papers in Honor of Erik Kellerman Reed (vol. 6, pp. 113–148, Papers of the Archaeological Society of New Mexico). Albuquerque: Albuquerque Archaeological Society.
Peeples, M., & Schachner, G. (2012). Refining correspondence-based ceramic seriation of regional data sets. Journal of Archaeological Science, 39(2012), 2818–2827.
Postgate, N. (1994). How many Sumerians per hectare?—probing the anatomy of an Early City. Cambridge Archaeological Journal, 4(1), 47–65.
Ramenofsky, A. F., & Feathers, J. K. (2002). Documents, ceramics, tree rings, and thermoluminescence: estimating final native abandonment of the lower Rio Chama. Journal of Anthropological Research, 58(1), 121–159.
Ramenofsky, A. F., Neiman, F. D., & Pierce, C. D. (2009). Measuring time, population and residential mobility from the surface at San Marcos pueblo, North Central New Mexico. American Antiquity, 74(3), 505–530.
Rick, J. W. (1987). Dates ad data: an examination of the Peruvian precereamic radiocarbon record. American Antiquity, 52(1), 55–73.
Roberts, J. M., Jr., Mills, B. J., Clark, J. J., Hass, W. R., Jr., Huntley, D. L., & Trowbridge, M. A. (2012). A method for chronological apportioning of ceramic assemblages. Journal of Archaeological Science, 39(2012), 1513–1520.
Robertson, I. G. (1999). Spatial and multivariate analysis, random sampling error, and analytical noise: empirical Bayesian methods at teotihucan, Mexico. American Antiquity, 64, 137–152.
Rohn, A. H. (1971). Mug house, Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado. Washington: National Park Service.
Sanders, W. T., Parsons, J., & Santley, R. S. (1979). The basin of Mexico: ecological processes in the evolution of a civilization. New York: Academic.
Schwindt, D. M., Bocinsky, R. K., Ortman, S. G., Kohler, T. A., Glowacki, D. M., & Varien, M. D. (n.d.). Climate, landscape and social dynamics in the Central Mesa Verde Region. Manuscript in possession of the authors.
Snead, J. E., Creamer, W., & Van Zandt, T. (2004). “Ruins of our forefathers”: large sites and site clusters in the Northern Rio Grande. In E. C. Adams & A. I. Duff (Eds.), The protohistoric Pueblo World, A.D. 1275–1600 (pp. 26–34). Tucson: University of Arizona Press.
Snow, D. H. (1963). A preliminary report on excavations at Sapawe New Mexico. Santa Fe: Laboratory of Anthropology (manuscript on file).
South, S. (1972). Evolution and horizon as revealed in ceramic analysis in historical archaeology. The Conference on Historic Site Archaeology Papers, 6(2), 71–116.
Steponaitis, V. P., & Kintigh, K. W. (1993). Estimating site occupation spans from dated artifact types: some new approaches. In J. B. Stoltman (Ed.), Archaeology of Eastern North America: papers in honor of Stephen Williams (pp. 349–361, archaeological report, no. 25) (p. 349). Jackson: Mississippi Department of Archives and History.
Stubbs, S. A., & Stallings, W. S., Jr. (1953). The excavation of Pindi Pueblo, New Mexico. Santa Fe: Monographs of the School for American Research and the Laboratory of Anthropology, No. 18.
Trigg, H. B., & Gold, D. L. (2005). Mestizaje and migration: modeling population dynamics in seventeenth-century New Mexico’s Spanish society. In M. Hegmon & B. S. Eiselt (Eds.), Engaged anthropology: research essays on North American Archaeology, ethnobotany, and museology (pp. 73–88, anthropological papers 94). Ann Arbor: Museum of Anthropology, University of Michigan.
Varien, M. D., & Ortman, S. G. (2005). Accumulations research in the southwest united states: middle-range theory for big-picture problems. World Archaeology, 37(1), 132–155.
Varien, M. D., Ortman, S. G., Kohler, T. A., Glowacki, D. M., & Johnson, C. D. (2007). Historical ecology in the Mesa Verde Region: results from the village project. American Antiquity, 72(2), 273–299.
Vierra, B. J., Nordby, L., & Martinez, G. (2003). Nake’muu: village on the edge. In P. F. Reed (Ed.), Anasazi archaeology at the millennium (pp. 137–144, proceedings of the sixth occasional Anasazi symposium). Tucson: Center for Desert Archaeology.
Wendorf, F. (1952). Excavations at Cuyamungue. El Palacio, 59(8), 265–266.
Wendorf, F. (1953a). Excavations at Te’ewi. In F. Wendorf (Ed.), Salvage archaeology in the Chama Valley, New Mexico (pp. 34–93). Santa Fe: Monographs of the School of American Research No. 17.
Wendorf, F. (Ed.). (1953b). Salvage archaeology in the Chama Valley, New Mexico. Santa Fe: Monographs of the School of American Research, No. 17.
Wendorf, F., & Reed, E. K. (1955). An alternative reconstruction of northern Rio Grande prehistory. El Palacio, 62(5–6), 131–173.
Wilcox, D. R., Gregory, D. A., & Hill, J. B. (2007). Zuni in the Puebloan and Southwestern worlds. In D. A. Gregory & D. R. Wilcox (Eds.), Zuni origins: toward a new synthesis of Southwestern archaeology (pp. 165–209). Tucson: University of Arizona Press.
Wilmeth, R. (1956). Cuyamungue Pueblo. MA Thesis, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque.
Wilson, G. P. (2006). Guide to ceramic identification: Northern Rio Grande and Galisteo Basin to A.D. 1700 (2nd ed., technical series, bulletin 12). Santa Fe: Laboratory of Anthropology.
Wilson, C. D. (2013). The gradual development of systems of pottery production and distribution across Northern Rio Grande landscapes. In B. J. Vierra (Ed.), From mountain top to valley bottom: understanding past land use in the northern Rio Grande Valley, New Mexico (pp. 161–197). Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press.
Windes, T. C. (1987). Population estimates. In Investigations at the Pueblo Alto Complex, Chaco Canyon, New Mexico 1975–1979, volume I, summary of tests and excavations at the Pueblo Alto Community (pp. 383–406, Publications in Archeology 18F: Chaco Canyon Studies). Santa Fe: Department of the Interior, National Park Service.
This paper is based on work supported by the National Science Foundation under DEB-0816400, the Santa Fe Institute Omidyar Fellows program, the Pueblo of Pojoaque, and the University of Colorado Boulder. I thank many people for their help in compiling the VEP II New Mexico site database utilized in this paper. Sam Duwe compiled pottery tallies from the Tewa Basin archaeological literature and shared his dissertation data. Reilly Murphy and Tiffany Clark collected new pottery data from Pajarito Archaeological Research Project collections curated at the University of California, Los Angeles. Rory Gauthier provided recent survey data from Bandelier National Monument and Jesse Clark and Carly Fitzpatrick entered this information in the database. Bruce Bernstein of the Pueblo of Pojoaque initiated the collaboration with CU Boulder at Cuyamungue, and the Cuyamungue Institute gave us permission to conduct field work on their property. Sara Cullen, Kaitlyn Davis, Rachel Egan, Lindsay Johanssen, Adam Duran Jr., Christopher Fierro, and Kyle Walkley assisted with the field work. Tim Kohler, two anonymous reviewers and the journal editors provided many helpful comments on earlier drafts.
About this article
Cite this article
Ortman, S.G. Uniform Probability Density Analysis and Population History in the Northern Rio Grande. J Archaeol Method Theory 23, 95–126 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10816-014-9227-6
- Quantitative methods
- Settlement patterns
- US Southwest