Anthropology, Department of


First Advisor

Carrie Heitman

Second Advisor

Phil Geib

Third Advisor

Heather Richards-Rissetto

Date of this Version


Document Type



A thesis presented to the faculty of the Graduate College at the University of Nebraska in partial fulfillment of requirements for the degree of Master of Arts

Major: Anthropology

Under the supervision of Professor Carrie C. Heitman

Lincoln, Nebraska, November 2019


Copyright 2019, Anna R. Dempsey Alves


In this thesis, I analyze an assemblage of ground stone tools, including manos and metates, from Basketmaker III period (A.D. 500-725) settlements in the central Mesa Verde region of Montezuma County, Colorado. Ground stone is a historically understudied class of artifacts, and the data collection and analysis practices employed for most projects remain subpar, despite the publication of best practices guidelines (Adams 2014). Ground stone informs on critical research topics and must be analyzed to the same degree as other artifact categories. The sites include the Dillard site (5MT10647), an aggregated site with a great kiva, and five surrounding, smaller habitation sites termed hamlets. The Basketmaker Communities Project, conducted by The Crow Canyon Archaeological Center, synthesized comparable data from contemporary sites in the region, asking questions about social dynamics at the earliest period of agricultural, sedentary lifeways in this region. Through the ground stone analysis, I gain insight to the production, use, maintenance and discard of ground stone tools and use the differences and similarities between the Dillard site and the hamlets to discern social dynamics at sites of different scales at the period when lifeways were drastically changing for Ancestral Pueblo people in the central Mesa Verde region. The results show that residents of the Dillard site ground in longer, intensive sessions, as indicated by their preference for formal tools and their investment in the use lives of those tools. While individual households ground some of their own product, not every household contained grinding tools. Combined with the presence of a mealing pit room that is closely associated with the great kiva, this indicates that at least some grinding took place above the household level at the Dillard site. Ground stone tools from the hamlets were less formal than those at the Dillard site, and while less comfortable in long grinding sessions, required less time to manufacture and maintain. Because of the smaller population at the hamlet sites, grinding tasks had to be completed in shorter sessions to allow time for other household tasks. The higher grinding efficiency of tools at the hamlets reflect the need to maximize ground product processed in each session.

Advisor: Carrie C. Heitman