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Evaluating the Emergence of Early Villages in the North American Southwest in Light of the Proposed Neolithic Demographic Transition

  • Richard H. Wilshusen
  • Elizabeth M. Perry

Abstract

Between AD 760 and 880 villages of 70 to more than 400 people formed rapidly in the Mesa Verde region of the North American Southwest. The emergence of the earliest villages appears to be linked to rapid immigration of new populations into the region. Conflicts over patchily distributed, dense resources, and differing cultural identities, as well as the demands of specific economic intensifications, may have favored aggregation over the long term. Although these factors are substantiated in the archaeological record of the region, models incorporating our present data remain insufficient to explain the rapid emergence and relative instability of these earliest villages. Bocquet-Appel’s identification of a global Neolithic Demographic Transition, characterized by dramatic increases in fertility rates in early Formative societies, suggests that intrinsic population growth may have played more of a role in the expansion and instability of early villages than we have so far allowed. New burial and excavation data from a relatively short-lived, but densely populated, locale in the Mesa Verde region support the proposal that part of the unexplained instability in our models is associated with an extremely high growth rate and its effects.

Keywords

Mesa Verde Pueblo I village pit structure kiva violence 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard H. Wilshusen
    • 1
  • Elizabeth M. Perry
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyColorado CollegeUSA
  2. 2.SWCASalt Lake City84111 USA

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