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?
A 20 km segment of Chaco Wash courses through the park. Its flows are derived from summer thunderstorms and winter snowmelt within a 2,175 km2 watershed. The wash is presently incised into a steep-walled arroyo which has a well-developed floodplain and a small inner channel on the arroyo floor.