Archaic-Early Basketmaker Period
The Archaic-Early Basketmaker Period in Chaco, radiocarbon dated from about 7000 to 1500 years before present, is also characterized by a mobile, hunting-gathering, non-ceramic economy, but there is an increasing emphasis on gathering, cultivation, and food storage through time. This period was identified by campsites with evidence of tool manufacturing, game and plant food processing, storage, and hearths. These camps are located throughout the park, but are most visible on the south sides of the mesas and in exposed arroyo cuts on the canyon floor. Early Basketmaker habitation sites are both open sites and rock shelters, modified by the construction of slab-lined storage cists and hearths, suggesting more long-term occupation. The intensive landscape modifications typical of the later occupations make clear identification of Archaic land use difficult. Fewer than 75 sites have been recorded in the park with evidence of Archaic - Early Basketmaker occupation. Generally, these sites are lithic scatters, characterized by the debris resulting from stone tool making, knives, scrapers, cores, projectile points, and some milling tools. Rockshelter sites like Atlatl Cave also contain well-preserved basketry, cordage, sandals, wooden and bone artifacts, and a wide range of faunal and flora remains.
Did You Know?
The climate of Chaco Canyon 1,000 years ago was very similar to the climate in the park today, with annual precipitation of only eight to nine inches. The Puebloans constructed water control features like dams, canals, and headgates for farming in such a dry environment.