New insight about the ancient Chaco Canyon population

Archaeologists found new evidence for long distance trade of the Chaco Canyon population living in the Southwest of  U.S.A., including corn to feed the thousands of people inhabiting the area.

Pueblo Bonito in Chaco Canyon (by NPS via EurekAlert!)

Chaco Canyon population, living in New Mexico about 1000 years ago represent the peak of Pueblo culture in the American Southwest. Archaeologists presented a new study that the soils there were too salty for the effective growth of corn and beans resulting in bringing food sources to the area from the Chuska Slope, the eastern flank of the Chuska Mountains some 50 miles west. According to the experts, that area was also the source of some 200000 timbers used to shore up Chaco Canyon masonry structures, such as Pueblo Bonite, and it is estimated that between 11000 and 17000 Pueblo people have resided on the Chuska Slope prior to 1130 AD. There is proof that Chaco Canyon inhabitants traded regularly with the Chuska Slope residents, as evidenced by stone tool material (chert), pottery and wooden beams. That is why, archaeologists believe that surplus corn could have also been imported. Chuska Mountains is an area where winter snows would have produced a significant amount of spring snowmelt that was combined with surface water, which concentrated and conveyed allowed for the diversion of surface water to irrigate large corn fields on the Chuska Slope. Meanwhile the Chaco Canyon was an area where the natural conditions did not allow for sufficient crop cultivation.

(after EurekAlert! & NPS)

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