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Identifying Common Pool Resources in the Archaeological Record: A Case Study of Water Commons from the North American Southwest

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Global Perspectives on Long Term Community Resource Management

Part of the book series: Studies in Human Ecology and Adaptation ((STHE,volume 11))

Abstract

Common Pool Resources (CPRs) were defined by Elinor Ostrom as natural or human-made resources of a size or with inherent characteristics that makes it costly, but not impossible to exclude from use by potential beneficiaries. Researchers who study CPRs largely focus on extant, directly observable systems and not archaeological contexts. In order to expand the pool of case studies of CPRs, I present an archaeological case study of investigating water CPRs by Ancestral Pueblo communities in the Jemez Mountains of New Mexico in the North American Southwest. Geoarchaeological and chronological analyses of 15 water reservoir features at 9 Ancestral Pueblo village sites were undertaken. Independent chronologies of water infrastructure serve as proxies for the emergence of social institutions to govern public access and distribution of domestic water. By testing reservoirs across the Jemez and Pajarito Plateaus, two adjoining regions settled by dryland maize agriculturalists between AD 1100 and 1700, I show how long-term archaeological records can be used to examine concepts central to the study of the commons and sustainability, such as institutional governance and inherent tradeoffs at the nexus of mitigating food-water insecurities.

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Acknowledgment

This work was made possible through coordination, and permitting with three federal agencies (National Park Service, Department of Energy, and US Forest Service), as well as in consultation with descendant Pueblo communities. Funding for data collection was provided by the Institute for the Study of Earth and Man at SMU, the William P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies Interdisciplinary Research Grant at SMU, and a Geological Society of America Grant Graduate Student Research Grant. Funding for analyses was provided by the National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Award #1445083 and support from a National Science Foundation Dynamics of Coupled Natural and Human Systems (CNH) Award #1114898.

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Aiuvalasit, M.J. (2019). Identifying Common Pool Resources in the Archaeological Record: A Case Study of Water Commons from the North American Southwest. In: Lozny, L.R., McGovern, T.H. (eds) Global Perspectives on Long Term Community Resource Management. Studies in Human Ecology and Adaptation, vol 11. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-15800-2_13

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