Late Basketmaker Period
The Late Basketmaker Period, dating from about AD 400/500-700, is represented by some 200 sites recorded in the park. It is likely that many of the later Pueblo Period sites may overlay (and obscure) evidence of earlier remains. Some sites dated to this period are exposed in arroyo banks, but have almost no surface expression. Given the difficulty of site identification, there may be up to 400 or more sites in the park dating to this period. This time period is characterized by many important cultural changes, including the replacement of the atlatl with the bow and arrow, the appearance of villages with multiple semi-subterranean pithouses, and the development of a ceramic tradition. These changes were brought about, in part, by a shift to at least a seasonally sedentary economy that focused more and more on agriculture. Late Basketmaker sites are located throughout the park, on mesas, on ridges and talus slopes, and on the canyon floor. Most of the sites that have definitive Late Basketmaker occupations are composed of clusters of from 1 to 20 pithouses. Some sites are simply hearths or cists that may suggest more limited, specialized uses such as gathering or processing camps or storage areas. The "type site" for this period, Shabik'eshchee Village, located near the park's southern boundary, has a great kiva -- the earliest evidence in the park of this important Puebloan Period cultural marker.
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.