Anthropology, Department of


Date of this Version

Summer 2007


Kiva, Vol. 72, No. 4 (Summer, 2007), pp. 459-462


The Archaeology of Chaco Canyon is one of two synthesis volumes resulting from the National Park Service Chaco Project (1971-1982) (see also Mathien 2005). As the capstone to that project, this volume has much to offer the student of Chaco and those interested in the intellectual history and trajectories of archaeological theory. From 1999 to 2004, Stephen Lekson (and many others) organized six working conferences to address different dimensions of Chacoan prehistory. Broadly called the Chaco Synthesis, the topics included ecology and economy, architecture, the organization of production, the Chaco world, and so- ciety and polity and concluded with a meeting chaired by Lynne Sebastian. (The results of some of those meetings are published in detail elsewhere: Kiva 69:2; Cordell, Judge, and Piper 2001; and American Antiquity 66:1.) In addition to summary chapters on these six topics, the volume also includes five contextualizing studies that frame the Chaco phenomenon both in space and time. The aim of this volume was to pull together Chaco Project data from the roughly 22 published monographs. But given the time and expertise that went into the process, the results are far richer and more varied. The volume also includes a comprehensive time line that charts 19 variables and a detailed appendix on Chacoan ecology and economy. The wealth of information addressed and interpreted in the text is truly a valuable contribution to the discipline. Many contributors have spent their careers working with these data; and their perspectives are both informed and, at times, in direct conflict with one another.