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Montgomery and Research Team Gain NSF Funding

A research team made up of Michael Adler (Southern Methodist University), Severin Fowles (Barnard College), and SoA Assistant Professor Lindsay Montgomery has received a senior archaeology grant from the National Science Foundation providing funding for a three-year field project titled “Collaborative Research: Building the Plains-Pueblo Macroeconomy at Picuris Pueblo, New Mexico, 1200-1750 CE.”

Abstract: In most parts of the world, wide-scale adoption of agricultural practices and associated settlement did not herald the end of mobile hunting and gathering traditions. Foragers persisted for centuries—in some cases, for millennia—alongside farmers, building new political, economic, and social relationships with their more sedentary neighbors. In the North American Southwest, the rise of large farming villages played a key role in stimulating a new fluorescence of bison-hunting traditions on the neighboring Southern Plains, as well as a concomitant intensification of interregional networks of economic exchange, military alliance, intermarriage, and opportunistic raiding. This Plains-Pueblo macroeconomy challenges simple evolutionary storylines about the replacement of foraging with farming, and it redirects our attention towards the adaptive diversity of human lifeways. This project has also been developed in close collaboration with the descendant community at Picuris Pueblo, with plans to feature the results of the research in the Picuris tribal museum. This endeavor is part of an effort to increase cultural heritage tourism at the pueblo and to educate the public about Picuris’ rich history.

This project examines the historical development of the Plains-Pueblo macroeconomy. This project seeks to test a specific, two-part hypothesis: namely (1) that the onset of exchange relations with Apachean groups from the Southern Plains triggered the expansion and intensification of agricultural practices and (2) that this agricultural transformation was undertaken to produce maize surpluses that could be traded for meat, hides, and other goods from the Plains. Researchers will lead a team of tribally-enrolled youth interns, Ph.D. students, and undergraduate students in an intensive field-based project that combines pedestrian survey, landscape mapping, test excavations, micro-botanical studies, and oral histories with tribal members, designed to establish the extent and content of agricultural field systems. To refine chronological understanding of the initiation of trade and the pace of agricultural intensification, the team will further employ AMS dating of both agricultural features and bison bone samples from previously-excavated midden contexts, as well as a dendrochronological study of the forests now covering the ancestral field systems. This research will produce the first large-scale account of this economic history, and it will serve as a key archaeological case study in our wider understanding of the evolution of farmer-forager mutualism.


Anthro News date: 08/14/2020