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Stratigraphy and Practical Reason Author(s): William H. Walker Source: American Anthropologist, New Series, Vol. 104, No.

1 (Mar., 2002), pp. 159-177 Published by: Blackwell Publishing on behalf of the American Anthropological Association Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/683768 Accessed: 17/11/2010 18:15
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ABSTRACTTheorganization humanbehavior of often defies utilitarian practical or reason.Inferences based in practical reasonsimbehavioral and as a resultobscureevidenceof ritual containedin sequencesof archaeological plify variability organization deposits.To basedartifact history life to the studyof prehistoric ritual I expose suchsequences,Ioffera behaviorally approach stratigraphy.illustrate this approach a case studyof ethnographic archaeological and evidenceof ritual warfareinthe American and Southwest.[Key through words:theory,ritual, CasasGrandes] war, stratigraphy, The main criticism of contemporary culture-talk:it is really instrumental, an ideological smokescreen of more fundamental interests, principally power and greedpractical functions. -Sahlins 1999:403 N MARSHALL SAHLINS'S RECENT DEFENSE culture of theory, he rehabilitates Boas, Linton, and other anthropological "codgers,"noting that despite their conceptual drawbacksthey had "no paralysing fear of structure" (1999:399). In this elegant article as elsewhere (1976:78), Sahlins stresses that where practical reason drives economic, ecological, or agency explanations, it oversimplifies human practice. Practicalreason is a conceptual shorthand that asserts a universal logic to human actions. In developed theoretical arguments, this shorthand relies on the rationalist assumption that people efficiently maximize their objective benefits at a minimal cost. In cruder forms, practical reason flows from investigators' reliance on "common sense." These forms of fundamentally utilitarian logic have many faces in the interplay of archaeological method and theory. In formalisteconomic theories, the value of goods and services derives from utilitarian laws such as supply and demand. In cultural ecology, adaptations to environments explain social variability. In some theories of agency, self-interest and greed inform actors' goals and strategies. Practicalreason is not necessarily an explicit component of any of these theoretical orientations (see Nielsen 1995; Pauketat 2000). However, when it rears its head, it masks or subordinates ethnographic variability, the life blood of anthropology. Appeals to more fundamental and unchanging concerns leave evidence of "impractical"behavior ignored or, worse, unrecognized. Sahlins's critique is particularly apt for interpretations of archaeological stratigraphy where assumptions of pracAMERICAN ANTHROPOLOGIST 104(1):159-177. Copyright

ticality commonly shape inferences about the past. The future of the study of prehistoric ritual, in particular, hangs in the balance because such presumptions of utility undervalue or obscure traces of past religious organization that structured archaeological strata. In the first section of this article, therefore, I present a definition of religion and ritual that facilitates the study of such traces. In the second section I pursue an alternative understanding of the relationship among ritual behavior, archaeological deposits, and the materialist metaphysics of archaeology (sensu Clarke 1973). In the third part of this article, I apply this understanding to interpretations of archaeological stratigraphy. In this section I explore an ethnographically inspired approach to the study of prehistoric ritual acts that emphasizes the identification of religious organization spanning or literally transcending sequences of strata. The funerary destruction of a Yuma Indian's home, for example, includes multiple activities resulting in superimposed strata (floor artifacts, burned roofing, wall debris, etc.). The organization of these activities and distinct strata resides in the Yumas' life crisis-based religion (see Spier 1933). I call such emergent stratigraphic structure sequential organization because it defies the commonsense notion that chronologically and behaviorally discrete layers or strata should be analyzed as distinct behavioralepisodes. Such diachronic research is critical for identifying ritual structurein archaeological deposits that might otherwise be attributed to accidental or warfare burning. Emphasizing stratigraphic evidence counters practical reasoning by bringing into focus "impractical," "irrational," or otherwise overlooked ambiguities in inferences of archaeological site-formation processes. In the fourth section of the article, I illustrate such behavioral structurethrough a case study of warfareand ritual


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* Vol. 104, No. 1 * March 2002 through ritual explanations. We need not sacrifice the prehistory of ritual on an altar of war but should, instead, identify its contributions to the archaeological record. I therefore argue, perhaps counterintuitively, that although warfare was a common prehistoric practice in the ancient Southwest, ritual, rather than battles, instrumentally destroyed many of the region's pit house and pueblo sites. In the fifth and final section I conclude my southwestern case study with an extended example, the stratigraphy at Paquime, also known as Casas Grandes, one of the most well described examples of prehistoric violence in the North American Southwest (LeBlanc 1999:252). Based on the stratigraphic structure of the site, I argue that the destruction at Paquime records ritual abandonment activities on a scale not previously imagined in southwestern archaeology.

in the North American Southwest. This particularcase exemplifies radically divergent interpretations of archaeological data created by the application of general theories informed by practical reason and by those generated by middle-range and lower-level theories tied more closely to ethnographic data. On the basis of the same stratigraphy, inferences of ritually burned and abandoned buildings have collided with inferences of destruction deriving from warfare and violence (e.g., Bullock 1998; Haas and Creamer 1993; LeBlanc 1999; Lightfoot et al. 1993; Walker 1998; Wilcox and Haas 1994; Wilshusen 1986, 1988). I contend that when these stratigraphic data are examined in detail, they often contain evidence of "impractical"activity that defies pragmatic explanations. These data demand more ethnographically subtle thinking about the organization of warfareand ritual in non-Western societies. In such explanations, the dichotomy between cultural reason and practical reason is ultimately unsustainable. In the continuum of human behaviors, ethnographic data support a range of organizing principles-some practical and others impractical. In many cases, however, the two are difficult to separate. I argue that explanations should begin with the recognition that impractical and practical reason vary through space and time because they are ultimately products of specific behavioral systems or cultures (sensu Sahlins 1976:164). There is no simple universal logic based in economy, environment, or power that organizes human behavior or the archaeological record. Nonetheless, there are regularities. By most standards (practical or otherwise), there is compelling archaeological evidence of prehistoric war in the American Southwest (see LeBlanc 1999:93-118; Wilcox and Haas 1994). Ethnographic and ethnohistoric descriptions of southwestern warfarealso reinforce the inference that warrior violence among Pueblo peoples (e.g., Haas and Creamer 1997), Athabascans (e.g., Basso 1971), and Rancheria peoples (e.g., Kroeber and Fontana 1986) has a long history in the region. These same ethnographic data, however, also record the active role that rituals played in the formation of archaeological stratigraphy,including the disposal of ceremonial refuse, funerary rites, animal sacrifices, and the organization of violence (e.g., Fewkes 1897, 1900; Mindeleff 1898; Russell 1908; Stephen 1969:100 n. 1; Strong 1929:84, 121, 180-181). These data
and nonviolentsuggest that ritual practices-violent also contributed to the organization of prehistoric archaeological stratigraphy (e.g., Adler 1999:203; Cordell 1998: 38; Darling 1998; Hill 2000; LaMotta and Schiffer 1999; Montgomery 1993; Ogilvie and Hilton 2000; Walker 1998; Walker et al. 2000; Wilshusen 1986). Although prehistoric artifacts and occasional human skeletal remains recovered from burned rooms (pit houses and pueblos) may, on the basis of practical reason, appear to be universal and self-explanatory evidence (sensu Sahlins 1999:403) of war, a detailed examination of their stratigraphic contexts often reveals inconsistencies and ambiguities (sensu Binford 1987) that can be best resolved

Practical reason undermines the inherently material reality of ritual, severing its behavioral links to violence, the organization of material culture, and, most importantly, the physical structure of the archaeological record of ritual. Not surprisingly, the study of prehistoric religion has become synonymous with the study of the useless and wasteful-"nonutilitarian" artifacts, ceremonial architecture, and symbolic imagery (Richards and Thomas 1984: 190). Practicalreason has reduced ritual to the "materialized" remains of past belief systems or ideologies (DeMarrais et al. 1996). In recent years, however, archaeologists have begun to look beyond artifact utility or symbolic meaning when they frame their searches for evidence of prehistoric ritual activity. A new type of data, the variable ritual practices that create the material structureof archaeological strata, has entered the literature (e.g., Chase and Chase 1998; Driver 1999; Merrifield 1987; Thomas 1991; Wilshusen 1986). These data are more than the remnants of ideologies whose political referents need unmasking; they are the material lens through which inferences of history must pass. Excavatorsare uncloaking the invisible hand of ritual activity in archaeological strata, from Paleo-Indian hunters' disposal of birds of prey (Driver 1999) to the burial of witches on Caribbeanplantations (Handler 1996). In such
studies, practical notions of "useful" and "useless" objects have taken a backseat to the idea that "function" and "value" are relative phenomena dependent on socially constituted rules of artifact use and disposal that often involve ritual practice. In Africa (e.g., Schmidt and Mapunda 1997), Europe (e.g., Hill 1995; Stevanovi6 1997; Thomas 1991), South America (e.g., Grieder et al. 1988; Nielsen and Walker 1999), Mesoamerica (e.g., Chase and Chase 1998; Garber 1986, 1989; Sugiyama 1989), and North America (e.g., Brooks 1993; Montgomery 1993; Wilshusen 1986), archaeologists are challenging Hawkes's axiom that archaeological inferences of "spiritual life" are more elusive than those of "subsistence economics" or "social/

Walker * Stratigraphy and Practical Reason political institutions" (1954:161-162). Hill (1995:96) asks the central methodological question of this new ritual archaeology: Should archaeologists, given the growing stratigraphic record of prehistoric ritual, continue to labor beneath Hawkes's (1954) pragmatically based hierarchy of inference?Perhapsthe ladder has been reversed,or Hawkes's axiom is no longer tenable, given the complex variability that prehistorians recognize in archaeological stratigraphy. Ritual is neither rare nor idiosyncratic. When one peeks beneath the surface of archaeological studies of politics and economics, ritual evidence abounds. Ceremonial artifacts and architecture underlie a number of cultural historical sequences (Walker 1995). Accordingly, archaeology needs definitions of ritual and religion that highlight the material nature of such evidence. Following Horton (1993:31-32), I define religion as the "extension of the field of people's social relationships beyond the confines of purely human society." A religion is a series of social interactions or practices within an expanded social realm that includes nonhuman, but similarly animated, entities. This definition has two advantages. It emphasizes social relationships that can be operationalized by archaeologists as activities involving artifacts, and it does more than pay lip service to the ethnographically common observation that "religion" is seldom a discrete category of experience. Instead, Horton's approach rearranges disparate activities and beliefs often segregated into politics, economics, and "religion"into a common field of social relations. This is particularly important because it allows observations of religious phenomena to be taken at face value as human behaviors. Like barter arrangements between hereditary trading partners or reciprocal relationships in kinship systems, this definition elevates religious practice to an analytical plane that assumes that these practices are as material and real as any other practices. It preserves the analytical usefulness of segregating such phenomena for study under a reforged category of "religion" that purposely hovers close to ethnographic data. As a result, it allows scholars to register the variation in that behavior that may contribute to a more general understanding of the range of religious experience. Archaeologists depend on inferences about the activities forming the archaeological record to build further inferences about organization and change among past societies. This approach facilitates such inferences by promoting a behaviorally based definition of religious ritual. Religious rituals are those behaviors arising from extrasocietal (religious) relationships. That some of these relationships are with beings, forces, or powers having no "rational" or "practical" standing is irrelevant to the study of the manipulation of material culture engendered by those relationships. For archaeology, deposits and sequences of deposits resulting from such relationships become tangible evidence of prehistoric religion. STRATIGRAPHY:CULTURALAND PRACTICAL


Social theories often organize human activities into categories (e.g., economy, politics, ideology) that conflate actual human behavior with idealized, utilitarian conceptions of behavior that obscure social relationships. LeBlanc'sPrehistoricWarfare the AmericanSouthwest(1999:76-77), for in example, employs a theory of social change that pragmatically links social organization, environment, war, and carrying capacity to explanations of archaeological data. The utilitarian behavioral assumptions underlying these categories are reproduced in his expectations of past activities and their trace evidence in the archaeological record. In what might be called a "reasonable prehistoric man" standard, he employs an efficiency argument to define ritual abandonment behaviors and identify their possible stratigraphic clues. For cases of planned ritual burning of prehistoric buildings, he states: "It is unlikely that small, easily transported high-production-cost items would be
left behind if burning was planned [ritual] .. . Metates

would have been left, but not axes, or stone effigies, turquoise, or the like" (1999:77). Such expectations beg two questions. First, must all prehistoric ritual abandonments of structuresand sites involve only cheap or bulky objects? After all, burial goods, artifacts cached in mounds, and other objects deposited or abandoned in undisputed ritual contexts such as shrines and foundation deposits include useful and costly items. Have the values of these artifacts and this hypothetical household discard pattern been empirically demonstrated through cross-culturalanalysis, or does ethnographic variability, in contrast, suggest that valuation and discard depend on socially constituted relationships (practical and impractical) between people and objects? Consider the religious relationships revealed by life histories of weapons among the Mae Enga of New Guinea. Raw materials (hardwoods and stone) used to construct warriors' bows and axes were imported from outsiders (Meggitt 1977:55), apparently following utilitarian laws of supply and demand. The values of these weapons, however, changed during the course of their cultural biographies or life histories (sensu Kopytoff 1986) in relation to specific behavioral contexts, particularly after their use in
battle. In the act of killing, they acquired a dangerous ghostly charge from their victims' spirits that rendered them relatively useless (or low in value) until this spiritual force was exorcised. By the same token, a deceased's warrior's weapons were highly valued by his still living relatives because these particular tools were "doubly dangerous when used against the killer" (Meggitt 1977:60). Minor use wear notwithstanding, the utility (use value) of these weapons had little to do with their practical attributes (e.g., strength, sharpness, weight). Instead, value was defined by a more complex set of social relationships with spirits identifiable only in the behavioral events marking the life histories of Mae Enga and their weapons.


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* Vol. 104, No. 1 * March 2002 more difficult to identify than that of any other behaviors. Moreover, ritual behaviors should not be equated with beliefs or symbols any more or less than economic or political behaviors are. Indeed, ideology should include beliefs about economy, environment, or technology that are often just as culturally specific and no more easily inferred than those of religious theology. Yet, in the theoretical architecture employed by practically minded archaeologists, the activity of religion, unlike that of economy or politics, is often segregated as a thing of ideas without behavioral structure. It seems that because ritual is not causal in favored "materialist"social theories, it ceases, as if by magic, to be material at all. As a result, archaeologists may overlook or simply not see ambiguities indicative of ritual stratigraphy that contradict their utilitarian inferences. In the metaphysics (sensuClarke 1973) of archaeological materialism, processual archaeologists, unlike their postprocessual colleagues, seldom feel compelled to talk of subsistence ideologies or economic ideologies. Yet, when confronted by ritual evidence, their analysis begins with the recognition of materialized ideas. Confusing or conflating the study of what is material and what is ideal is a significant contradiction in the metaphysics of scientific archaeology. The archaeological record is inherently material, and, therefore, arguments that do not incorporate that strength artificially limit their theoretical as well as methodological reach, leading to such discrepancies. Practicalreason, ironically, is an ideology allowing archaeologists under its sway to avoid recognizing the often weak articulation of materialist social theories and the archaeological record. Rather than seeking the materialization of ideology (DeMarraiset al. 1996), why not materialize archaeological theory; recognize that all behaviors, particularly ritual ones, and the traces they leave behind in archaeological strata are an already ordered material reality of social relationships; and then build social theories on this expanded, albeit structurally complex, foundation? There is nothing more tangible or religious than the ritual exorcism of a Mae Enga weapon used to kill an enemy. This is social structure that cannot be ignored in the consideration of stratigraphy. Religions organize rituals that, like all other behaviors, instrumentally contribute to
the manufacture, distribution, and use of material culture. Perhaps most critically, ritual organization can also structure the disposal, discard, and abandonment of artifacts and architecture. To avoid ethnocentrism, ethnographers attempt to understand practices in their cultural contexts; similarly, archaeologists can use stratigraphic variability to build inferences about the activities and organization of activities of past peoples (Binford 1987; Hodder 1986; Schiffer 1987). Why not explore theoretical realms in which ritual behavior stands on equal footing with other behaviors-at least to facilitate its identification in archaeological deposits? Archaeologists interested in politics, economy, or religion

Similar to the Mae Enga, ethnohistoric peoples of the Southwest also created complex material culture patterns, abandoning and burying axes, turquoise, stone effigies, and other objects precisely because they were ritually valuable (e.g., Ferguson and Eriacho 1990; Kidder 1958:237; Saile 1977; Walker 1998:258). Given that Pueblo peoples purposely buried turquoise in the foundations of their houses during construction (Saile 1977), is it unreasonable to propose that their ancestors also might have sacrificed it during a structure or village abandonment? Today, repatriated Zuni war god effigies lie weathering in unroofed structures, which is deemed an appropriatedisposal technique for interactions with powerful sacral material (Ferguson and Eriacho 1990). In the forceful change from Pueblo religions to Christianity, a flood of ceremonial buildings, masks, effigies, and fetishes entered the historical archaeological record in ritual acts (Brew 1949: 65-66; Kidder 1932:86-91, 1958:237; Montgomery 1949). Is it so unreasonable that prehistoric religious changes (forced and voluntary), such as those accompanying the transition from pit house farming hamlets to Pueblo villages or the demise of regional interaction spheres such as those centered around Chaco Canyon, New Mexico, or Casas Grandes, Chihuahua, might not have also left dramatic stratigraphictraces of ritual change? Ideology and Materialism Given that such "nonutilitarian" behaviors abound in the ethnographic Southwest and elsewhere (Murdock 1935: 40, 102, 125, 183, 469), one wonders why archaeologists would resist the assumption that ritual activity played any less prominent a role in the formation of the archaeological record than "materialist" activities related to subsistence or politics. Perhapsarchaeologists embrace the structure of practical reason in their inferences because they find the actual behaviors idiosyncratic, particularly ritual behaviors. Ritual patterning in ethnographic and stratigraphic contexts appears elusive in part because theories informed by practical reason have conflated ideology, defined as systems of belief, with ritual practice. I contend that ritual practice has the same potential to impart structure to the archaeological record as subsistence or politics. Unlike the behaviors of these practical
realms, ritual disposal behavior is a routine feature of religious practice that constantly structures the archaeological record of people, artifacts, and architecture. The New Archaeology's equation of prehistoric ritual with nonutilitarian beliefs and practices obscures this material fact. Labeling ritual as ideology universally masks the material qualities of ritual action and works to subordinate inferences of ritual to seemingly more important topics, including politics, economics, and environment (Asad 1993; Bell 1992). Although Hawkes may have been correct that specific prehistoric beliefs are more difficult to infer than past environmental processes or subsistence practices are, it is unclear that evidence of ritual behavior should be any

Walker * Stratigraphy and Practical Reason have only stratigraphic variability to gain and their analytical chains to lose.


be considered a special case. After all, the uniformitarian properties of frames of reference, and not utilitarianism per se, give them power. Stratigraphic Sequences The ritual structure of strata can be captured in a frame of reference that focuses on the abandonment and postabandonment life histories of a series of archaeological features such as mounds, ditches, cists, pits, plazas, wells, middens, houses, ceremonial rooms, or pueblos (see Walker 1998: 263). Among the ancient pueblos and pit houses of the American Southwest, one might focus on the sequential ordering among floor features, floor assemblages, and strata above the floor, including trash deposition, roof fall, windblown sands, and other strata. Although any one variable in a given deposit, such as burned roofing beams or sealed floor features, might not distinguish the cause(s) of abandonment (e.g., accident, war, funeral), consideration of this variable in conjunction with others in a stratigraphic sequence might (e.g., Walker 1998; Wilshusen 1986). This relational approach to the processes forming deposits in one unit becomes even more meaningful when the relations between units are considered across a site or region. Forexample, at Picuris Pueblo near Taos, New Mexico, Kiva D, a subterraneanceremonial structure,had a distinctive sequence of abandonment strata relative to other structures in the site. Its ventilators and wall niches were sealed with adobe, its murals were plastered over, and its roof was burned (Dick et al. 1999:68). By comparing these stratigraphic variables within and between structures, Adler could discount less probable explanations for the destruction of this kiva, such as accident or warfare. Indeed, he notes that this "kiva's significance rests in its differential treatment compared with other kivas, which were not burned, but were either dismantled or left to fill in with natural sedimentation" (1999:205). Its life history conforms to neither accident nor war but, rather, to a ritual abandonment that sets it apart from other structures in the site, including other kivas. In other parts of the world, alternative stratigraphic units, variables, and attribute states must be employed in the study of ritual strata. For example, Hill (1995) divides
the fill of Iron Age Wessex pits into lower, middle, and upper deposits and then examines variables such as the presence or absence of artifacts (animal bone, human bone, pottery, and metal objects), frequencies of these artifacts, their sizes, and breakage patterns. Such considerations have allowed him to recognize particular sequences of artifact deposition indicating purposefully prepared ritual strata (structured deposits) rather than casual disposal of domestic rubbish and subsequent differential weathering. Lower and middle layers contained densities of artifacts that could not be explained as the result of better preservation. Human remains, for example, were often found in the lower and middle layers in the same pits with articulated

Cultural processes, including war and ritual, shape the life histories of artifacts (Schiffer 1987). Paralleling the life history/biography approaches that ethnographers, historians, sociologists, and psychologists use to infer structured data (e.g., Allport 1942; Crapanzano 1977; Gottschalk et al. 1945; Langness and Frank 1995), explicit, albeit schematic, artifact life history methods of inference were initially proposed by archaeologists in the 1970s to link artifacts found in the archaeological record with prehistoric cultural contexts (Schiffer 1972; Sullivan 1978). Subsequent research, benefiting from ethnoarchaeology, ethnohistory, and experimental archaeology, has developed more detailed life history frameworks to capture the organization of a wide range of past and present phenomena (e.g., Binford 1987; Hayden 1998; Lillios 1999; Schiffer et al. 1994; Skeates 1995; Skibo and Schiffer 2001; Walker and Lucero 2000; Zedefio 1997). Indeed, a recent issue of WorldArchaeology, edited by Marshall and Godsen (1999), is devoted to this burgeoning researchtrend. Advocates of life history models examine how the organization of known behaviors affects the frequencies, physical properties, associations, and spatial locations of artifacts. These approaches to inference are particularly strong because they highlight ambiguity in archaeological evidence, thereby facilitating more precise explorations of the organization or structure of prehistoric activities. Binford (1987:451), for example, recognizes that similar or even identical hunting and foraging behaviors can result in different archaeological records, depending on the organization of these behaviors. Collecting strategies may have moved resources to consumers at a home base, whereas forager strategies may have moved consumers to resources. Both forms of organization may even have occurred at different behavioral scales in the same hunting and gathering society. Individual hunters may have acted as collectors, while the hunters' households seasonally moved about the landscape in a foraging strategy. As a consequence, archaeologists should not look for collectors or foragers but instead consider the often relatively specific consequences of variable combinations of such behavioral organization. Artifact life history models at different scales provide a flexible technique for exploring behavioral organization. By seeking a "frame of reference" such as "economic anatomy" that has widespread empirical support in ethnographic contexts, Binford (1987) has modeled how the frequencies of usable parts of prey animals might betray traces of such organization in various archaeological records. This unabashedly utilitarian frame of reference in Binford's artifact life history models has contributed significantly to the archaeological study of hunters and gatherers. Such a utilitarian frame of reference, however, can


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* Vol. 104, No. 1 * March 2002 brunt of puebloan warfare arguments well into the 1960s (Haas and Creamer 1997). In the 1940s and 1950s, functionally oriented archaeologists sought to escape the confines of trait-based approaches to culture by looking for institutional causes of conflict. ResistingBenedict's (1934) classification of pueblo peoples as Appollonian, Linton (1944) and Woodbury (1959) lay the blame for prehistoric violence squarely on the social organization of pueblo peoples, noting their warrior sodalities, weapons, organized resistance to Spanish explorers, and other ethnographic evidence supporting the plausibility of prehistoric interpueblo warfare. By the 1970s, New Archaeologists began to acquire more detailed regional warfare data, and their explicit problem-oriented survey and excavation research designs enabled them to marshal multiple lines of evidence including distributions of weapons, fortifications, settlement patterns, burned buildings, and unburied bodies (e.g., Lipe and Matson 1971; Watson et al. 1980; Wilcox 1979). These studies lay the foundations for a contemporary vision of prehistoric southwestern warfare driven by environmental processes whose long-term result was the formation of increasingly complex polities (Haas and Creamer 1993, 1996, 1997; LeBlanc 1999; Wilcox and Haas 1994). Perhapsthe most focused study has been Haas and Creamer's analysis of the relationship between warfare and the formation of tribal-scalepolities among 13thcentury Kayenta Anasazi of northern Arizona. Increasing competition for resources in circumscribed areas of the Colorado Plateau resulted in conflict documented by the formation of aggregated hilltop settlements, defensible cliff dwellings, and stratigraphicevidence of burned structures (Haas and Creamer 1993). The most ambitious work to date, LeBlanc's(1999) recent monograph, synthesizes these earlier studies arguing that warfare was endemic throughout the prehistory of the Southwest from the earliest agricultural hamlets through the latest prehistoric towns. Employing a neoevolutionary model, he argues that the intensity of fighting varied in relation to the carryingcapacity of local environments. People fought to secure necessary subsistence resources such as land and crops. The intensity of such war peaked in the 14th and 15th centuries at the apogee of
prehistoric population size. During this late prehistoric period, southwestern peoples aggregated into large defensible town clusters such as those found on the middle Little Colorado River, the Rio Grande, the Rio Casas Grandes, the Zuni River, and the Hopi mesas. Following Woodbury (1959), Haas and Creamer (1993), and others, LeBlanc views the widespread stratigraphic evidence of burned buildings, in situ floor assemblages, and occasional unburied bodies as direct evidence of prehistoric war. Although LeBlanc (1999:77-78, 83) recognizes the possibility that some specialized ceremonial buildings such as Mimbres kivas might have been purposefully destroyed, he argues that such ritual destruction was exceptional.

animal remains. However, "carewas usually taken [prehistorically] so that they [human and animal remains] were rarely deposited in the same layer" (Hill 1995:54). Many of the statistically significant patterns Hill has found were apparent only because he considered the ambiguity (sensu Binford 1987) inherent in these features by identifying structured data in the sequences of strata rather than in particular strata or artifact classes. In fact, his strongest patterns derive from consideration of the entire stratigraphic sequence of a pit. Ethnographically this form of behavioral structure or sequential organizationis common (Walker 1995). The ambiguities of strata attributed to warfarein the American Southwest are aptly suited for the study of sequential organization.

Warfare exerted an undeniably important influence on the material record of the historical Southwest and for many centuries preceding Spanish contact (e.g., Haas and Creamer 1997; LeBlanc 1999:44-54). Eyewitness accounts and oral history document small raiding parties as well as large battlefield confrontations (e.g., Kroeberand Fontana 1986; Pfefferkorn 1949:207, 211; Velarde 1931:138). Beginning in the 19th century, classical evolutionists conducting ethnological research moved easily between archaeological and ethnographic evidence. In this scholarly framework, both forms of evidence (archaeological and ethnographic) clearly derived from societies in the same stage of social evolution. Bandelier (1892), Fewkes (1893), Cushing (1967), and others successfully synthesized architectural, artifactual, and iconographic evidence of religion as well as war without contradiction. The "barbarian" scale of organization (sensu Morgan 1878:12), which characterized the historic and prehistoric inhabitants of the region, led scholars to favor historical continuities and, far too frequently, to interpret archaeological evidence in terms of specific mythological and legendary events. For Fewkes (1893), pueblo and clan histories provided a logical starting point for the interpretation of ancient religious wars. As archaeologists turned away from classical evolutionary theory toward Boasian historical particularism, burned sites and defensive architecture were transformed into culture traits that indirectly documented processes such as migration, diffusion, and innovation. Kayenta migrants from northern Arizona, for example, intruded on Mogollon peoples of the Point of Pines region of east-central Arizona but after a time were burned out for offenses unknown (Haury 1958). More generally, nomadic invaders, particularly Athabascan peoples, became prime movers for the abandonment of sites and regions throughout the American Southwest (Kidder 1924:126, 129). Despite subsequent functionalist arguments (Linton 1944), which suggest that endemic interpueblo warfare is a more likely explanation, Navajo and Apache raiders bore the

Walker * Stratigraphy and Practical Reason Turner and Turner's recent monograph, Man Corn (1999), compiles nearly 30 years of southwestern cannibalism research. Complementing the warfare literature, they argue that the majority of southwestern cannibalism events derive from the "acts of a few zealous cultists from Mexico" who established a polity at Chaco Canyon in the Anasazi heartland. To enforce their social and economic control of the region, these agents employed ritual terror. Dissent or disobedience was punished by burning villages and consuming their occupants. The visible hand of practical reason (economic, ecological, and agential) lies heavily on this literature, and alternative ritual explanations are viewed with skepticism (e.g., Haas and Creamer 1996:210; LeBlanc 1999:76-81; Turner and Turner 1999:53). The rationalist and commonsense reasoning underlying these inferences has been facilitated, in part, by the often pragmatic excavation techniques employed by past archaeologists. It is rare to find detailed stratigraphic profile sections in older southwestern archaeological site reports. Despite this article's analytical dependence on units of natural stratigraphy, for much of the 20th century North American archaeologists were conflicted over the role of natural layers in excavation recovery techniques (Lyman et al. 1997). Beginning with his 1916 season, Alfred Kidder made a strong case for excavation in natural levels at Pecos Pueblo (see Kidderand Kidder1917). Kidder (1924:22, fig. 2) later illustrated the important relationship among site growth, artifactual deposition, and recovery units through a stylized profile section of the pueblo's extramural midden area. His methodological innovations flowed from his collaboration with Charles Amsden as well as his Harvardtraining with Egyptologist George Reisner, who was taught by W. M. Flinders Petrie (Lyman et al. 1997:50). Many of Kidder'scontemporaries and later culture historians, however, realized that time and culture trait differences could be identified with the less contextdependent methods of arbitrarystratigraphy, euphemistically known as "metrical" or "artificial" stratigraphy. When chided by Wheeler (1954), proponents of metrical stratigraphy (e.g., Phillips et al. 1968:290-291; Thompson 1955:188-189; Woodbury 1960) argued that it provides a measure of changing cultural traits that is more efficient than the time-consuming and intellectually exhausting
process of identifying and pealing back natural layers. This pragmatic defense, one based on the observation that unwanted stratigraphic variability often clouds the orderly arrangement of time, continued well into the 1960s. McGregor's textbook, Southwestern Archaeology, states that use of an "artificial" stratigraphic method "may actually be preferable to dealing with the natural strata, for natural strata may occur for reasons of no significance to the archaeologist" (1965:57). More explicitly, Ford baulks at the radical notion of letting natural layers structure the evidence underlying culture history: "By this procedure, we have allowed the history to be separated into periods by chance historical events, the building of a courtyard at


the point the excavation was made, or a major fire. The chance that a neighboring site, occupied for the same span of time, was subjected to the same sequence of events seems remote" (1962:45). As culture historical interests in trait-based chronology building gave way to processual and later contextual questions (e.g., Binford 1968; Hodder 1986; Schiffer 1976), such arguments disappeared, albeit methods emphasizing natural stratigraphy still remain underutilized by many North American archaeologists. Nonetheless, ideal fieldwork standards in the U.S. Southwest emphasize excavation in natural levels documented by horizontal plan views and vertical profiles leading to cumulative sections (sensu Barker1982:82-94). It is no longer unusual to identify and explain the instrumental origin of strata (sensuSchiffer 1987) encountered in pit house and pueblo rooms, particularly those related to "major fires." Such deposits often include what Ford (1962:45) would consider the chance occurrences associated with room-abandonment processes, such as whole and fragmentary artifacts on floor surfaces, layers of burned or unburned mud and roofing timbers, wall rock and mortar debris, sheet-washed artifact deposits, and wind- or water-laid sands. The rise of such middle-range site-formation process research in the 1970s and 1980s, in particular, stimulated experimental and ethnoarchaeological study of the worldwide archaeological pattern of burned Neolithic houses (e.g., Bankoff and Winter 1979; Bibby 1970; Deal 1985: 269; Friede and Steele 1980). In the American Southwest, similar studies led archaeologists to recognize that stratigraphy holds previously untapped evidence of prehistoric ritual activity (Glennie and Lipe 1984; Kent 1984: 139-141; Schiffer 1987:92, 228; Seymour and Schiffer 1987; Wilshusen 1986). An important consideration in this research is recognition of the ethnographic subtleties in the relationship between behavior and the formation of the archaeological recordneglected by earlier scholars. Sequential Organization and Stratigraphic Inference This consideration of the American Southwest's stratigraphy of destruction has generated a growing contrarian literature that cannot reconcile all burning with warfare
(e.g., LaMotta and Schiffer 1999; Lightfoot et al. 1993; Montgomery 1993; Walker 1998; Wilshusen 1986). Longheld assumptions about the behavioral significance of stratigraphic superposition, perhaps the most fundamental building block of archaeological inference, have been implicitly and explicitly challenged in this research. Counterintuitively, these archaeologists have looked for behavioral organization that spans temporally superimposed strata. Contrarian archaeologists have certainly employed natural superposition to identify sequences of temporally discrete activities that contradict inferences of warfare. But they have also recognized that traces of social organization or structure organize these sequences of


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seemingly discrete temporal events (Walkerand Ludeman


Superposition Warfare inferences often evoke catastrophic events that have relatively specific temporal implications. Like little Pompeiis (sensu Binford 1981), these inferences describe destructionthat is rapid and widespread,such as the wholesale sacking of a village or town. As a result, consideration of the temporal evidence captured by the superposition of deposits containing burned artifacts (e.g., roofing, wall stones, and plaster) and other deposits (e.g., windblown sand, refuse, and inhumations) can be used to assess the validity of such inferences. In many cases, stratigraphic data have demonstrated multiple burning events that contrast sharply with catastrophic events. At Talus village, for example, there are numerous superimposed, burned pit houses (see Morris and Burgh 1954). Figure 1 shows burned floors from Area 4 clearly superimposed. Such data suggest either repeated catastrophes, followed by rebuilding on the same spot (without the addition of defenses), or that more subtle explanations are necessary. Other cases of sequential patterning occur at larger stratigraphic scales. In some cases stratigraphic comparisons do support inferences of catastrophic site abandonment burning. This burning, however, does not occur at a "rational"point in the stratigraphic histories of the structures encountered. The burning does not appear to cause the abandonment but, instead, occurs well after many have fallen from use. The early (ca. 700-900 C.E.) pueblo villages of southwestern Colorado highlight just such temporally ambiguous deposits (Hoffman 1993:266; Lightfoot et al. 1993; Wilshusen 1988, 1989; Wilshusen and Ortman

1999). The majority of burned structures in villages such as Grass Mesa had deposits of sand on their floors that separated their final use from their fiery destruction. These data, in part, prompt the inference that, unlike the case at Talus village, in some times and places whole villages, rather than particular structures, were ritually burned at their abandonment. Sequences Such stratigraphicinferences imply a behavioral organization or cultural structure (sensu Sahlins 1976) that transcends the discrete deposits in these sequences. Recognizing a causal linkage between deposits in a room or site and earlier deposits or even earlier activities in that space (i.e., prior to its abandonment) has opened up a new realm of study in the archaeology of ritual. Aztec ruin, one of the largest outlier sites in the Chaco world and possibly a central place after the abandonment of Chaco Canyon (Lekson 1999a), had few occupants and functioned mostly as a cemetery at the time of its fiery destruction (Morris 1924). Chacoans originally built, occupied, and abandoned the pueblo in the 12th century. It was subsequently reoccupied by Mesa Verdean peoples for a time. They then built nearby pueblos and reused Aztec's rooms as burial chambers. When the site's final occupants abandoned it in the 13th century, burned deposits sealed this sequence. Although this burning has prompted some to see Aztec as another war victim (e.g., LeBlanc 1999: 233), its successive occupations and uses for mortuary ritual also provoke the sequential organization question, How might the cemetery deposits at Aztec relate behaviorally to earlier activities at this site-its Chacoan and postChacoan occupationsas well as its later destruction?Perhaps




0 4 --2,ORM'e-



0 RS



FIGURE Superimposedpit house floors from TalusVillage (adapted from Morrisand Burgh 1954:20,fig. 9). 1.

Walker * Stratigraphy and Practical Reason its initial ritual significance as an outlier community on the great north road from Chaco influenced subsequent ritual uses including its final abandonment (Campbell 1999). In these cases and others, stratigraphic variability demands inferences based in the complexity of ethnographic data. Ethnographic Warfare and Ritual Seventeenth-century Spanish accounts describe interpueblo warfare along the Rio Grande and among Western Pueblo groups such as Hopi, Zuni, and Acoma (Haas and Creamer 1997). Spanish conquistadors encountered battlefield tactics including organized skirmish lines and trumpet signaling that betrayed prior experience with organized interpueblo conflict (LeBlanc 1999:45). These observations of Pueblo warfare, however, also expose a long entanglement of pueblo war with religion. Warriorsodalities with important religious functions were common among pueblo groups. The rainmaking and fertility rites of warrior societies harnessed supernatural power through the killing of enemies and the trophy taking of weapons, scalps, and clothing (Ellis 1951; Stephen 1969). Scalps acquired by Zuni warriorswere named water and seed beings and used in rituals to procure these life-giving substances (Stephen 1969:97 n. 1). Weapons occur in pueblo altar assemblages (Fewkes 1902:488-489) and are components of ceremonial costumes (Roediger 1991:139). Such weapons also occur in the images of deities depicted on rock art and kiva murals (Schaafsma 2000; Smith 1952). In these ethnographic data, ceremony and war are linked in a ritual technology designed to control or manipulate the animating power found in people, rain, and crops (Walker2001). Indeed, ritual leaders garnered respect and fear through the manipulation of these ritual technologies. Rancheria people living in southern Arizona and farther south in Mexico also attained spiritual power through fierce warfare. For an extended example, consider 19thcentury warfare among Cocopa, Halchidhoma, Maricopa, Mohave, Pima, O'ohdam, and Quechan peoples living in southern Arizona. Mohave living on the central Colorado River fought with the Cocopa to the south and with Maricopasand Pimas
living more than 150 miles to the east on the Gila River (Kroeber and Fontana 1986). Maricopas were actually a composite group of several tribes forced by war to leave the Colorado River Valley during the first few decades of the 19th century. Two forms of warfare were observed: raiding and battles. Small raiding parties attacked in stealth and killed or captured a few individuals to avenge past deaths or to acquire slaves for markets farther south in Mexico. Battles, in contrast, involved fielding hundreds of combatants in relatively formal confrontations with the goal of killing as many enemies as possible. Kroeber and Fontana (1986:107) summarize a series of 21 such battles between 1832 and 1857, classifying their outcomes into four categories: winners, losers, ties (bloody


losses on both sides), and unknown. Curiously, attackers were clear winners only once. They lost 14 times and tied twice. Four of the battles had unknown outcomes. If these unknowns were all actually wins, and ties were also categorized as wins, attackers still won only seven of the 21 battles they initiated. In the last of these disastrous battles, described as The Massacreon the Gila by Kroeberand Fontana (1986), several hundred Quechan and Mohave walked 150 miles from the Colorado Riverto attack their Maricopa enemies .settled on the Gila River.The Maricopasheld the attackers at bay until their Piman allies arrived and surrounded the attackers.The majority of attackerswere then put to death as they tried to escape. They lay where they fell, the victors allowing them to rot unmolested. LeBlanc (1999:16) notes that little direct archaeological evidence of this battle remains and asks, How many similar battles may have been lost to history? The battle, after all, occurred outside the Maricopavillages, lowering the probability that its site would be found. The fallen were not buried and lay exposed to the elements, further reducing direct evidence of this dramatic historical event. It does not follow, however, that the archaeological record does not preserve evidence of this battle and possibly similar prehistoric conflicts. Copious indirect evidence of this battle exists 150 miles away in the stratigraphyof the historic villages of the slain Quechan and Mohave warriors.Eyewitness accounts there describe the haunting mortuary burning of homes, valuable property, and personal effects by the friends and relatives of the warriors: The Indiansfor some weeks have been mourningand for slainin the recentexpedimakingsacrifices warriors tion. Theyhave been killingtheirhorses,burningtheir and cornfields, houses,and arms,beads,cloth,and trinThe kets,all of whichis valuable property. commanding at officer the Fortdeemedit his dutyto interfere enand to deavor prevent destruction theirmeansof subsisthe of tence. [San Herald and 1857;see also Kroeber FonDiego tana1986:100] These Yuman-speakingpeoples, and almost all nonpueblo peoples of the American Southwest, practiced funerary burning and destruction of homes and other personal possessions, including livestock, stored grain, and crops in the
field (LaMotta and Schiffer 1999). Moreover, such mortuary practices were often accompanied by the abandonment and relocation of households and villages, leading to a settlement pattern of death. The archaeological relevance of these ritual practices was not lost on Spier (1933), who recognized the persistence and acceleration of this behavior (structure) in the context of the wars and diseases of the colonial period. Despite frequent conflict in the region, he notes that "every inch" of the Gila River Valley contained burned houses that were not razed by war (1933:22). Based on these ethnohistoric data, one could expect both ritual burning of prehistoric architecture and violent


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* Vol. 104, No. 1 * March 2002 that between 1050 and 1340 C.E. two small farming communities (Chaco Canyon and Casas Grandes) at the far reaches of the Mesoamerican world were transformed into trading cities analogous to ethnohistorically known Aztec and Tarascanenclaves. The political, economic, and religious hegemony these prehistoric pochteca cast over the northern frontier initially created the Chacoan phenomenon of great houses and roads and subsequently the rise of Casas Grandes and the material culture patterns of the Chihuahuan culture (e.g., Brand 1935; Carey 1931) and its hinterlands, defined by the Animas (Kidder et al. 1949), Black Mountain (LeBlanc 1980), and El Paso Phases (Lehmer 1948). According to Di Peso and others (1974), these entrepreneurs centralized the production and distribution of shell, copper, pottery, macaws, and turkeys at Casas Grandes. Their organizational skills, coercive power, and knowledge also made possible the construction of platform pyramids, ball courts, effigy mounds, ceremonial rooms, civic water works, and an agricultural infrastructure spanning the entire Casas GrandesValley. Di Peso thought that as the city began to decline in power in the 14th century, it was attacked and suffered a fiery destruction on a spring day in 1340 C.E., during the appropriately named Diablo Phase (Di Peso et al. 1974, 4:205). Invaders, perhaps from the west, stormed the city and burned most of the structures, desecrated its holy places, and left the remains of at least 127 defenders lying where they fell (Di Peso 1974, 2:320, 3:758). Ceremonial objects on the Mound of the Offerings, for example, were still in the ritual precinct, albeit broken up and "cast down" (Di Peso et al. 1974, 4:305-314). Whole and fragmentary bowls, effigy vessels, axes, and other utilitarian and nonutilitarian artifacts were thrown down onto the sand covering the long stairway of the site's recently abandoned walk-in well. Following this desecration, other artifacts fell naturally into overlying strata (Di Peso et al. 1974, 4:371-382). Plaza 3-13 possessed a large ceremonial deposit whose formation is tersely described in the following manner: "During destruction of the city, ceremonial hoard cast into NW corner of plaza, probably taken from adjacent room" (Di Peso et al. 1974, 5:592). Although this history is an exciting one, it is only the tip of the iceberg. Casas Grandes possesses some of the
most intriguing deposits of artifacts and architecture found in the North American Southwest. Early visitors impressed by the massive adobe construction remarked on the defensive appearance of its walls (Hammond and Rey 1928:205-206). The site was a source of antiquarian interest throughout the 18th and 19th centuries (e.g., Bandelier 1890; Barlett 1965). One of the more fascinating artifacts recovered from the site, a 1,544-kilogram meteorite (Tassin 1903), was bought by U.S. Vice-Consul William Pierson (1874) and displayed at the 1876 World's Fair Centennial Exhibit in Philadelphia. Pierson's flowery description of the meteorite as wrapped in a "kind of coarse linen" in a "kind of tomb made of adobe brick" suggests

intercommunity warfare across relatively large regions of the prehistoric Southwest. Such ritual and violence would mark the physical displacement of peoples, the formation of "no man's lands," defensive village postures, and extensive deposits of ritual stratigraphy. Even when battle sites have left little direct evidence of their occurrence, they could have affected the life histories of settlements, artifacts, and architecture. Although many causes could account for the ritualized abandonment of a site, it would not be unreasonable to investigate large-scale battles. Ethnographic analogy, however, suggests that any associated architectural destruction may have instrumentally resulted from the ritual aftermath of such a battle rather than the fighting itself. Indeed, ritual practices may have actually preserved evidence of warfare and the implements of war that would otherwise have been lost. The ritual abandonment of homes among the Rancheria peoples documents rituals embedded in religions that focused largely on individual rather than community relations with the sacred. Such ritual organization prompts the question, How might ritual abandonment practices have been different in more communally focused religious systems not constrained by Spanish or American colonizers? Among the ethnohistoric pueblos where religious practices were more communally organized, individuals, however, were buried and not subject to the intensive mortuary rituals of the Rancheriapeoples. Although Rancheria peoples continued to abandon villages in the ethnohistoric period, pueblo abandonment and mobility were curtailed by administrative policies of Spanish and later American governments. Whereas pueblos occupied for hundreds of years were the exception in prehistory, they became commonplace in the historic period. Indeed, interpueblo warfarewas also curtailed in this period (Haas and Creamer 1997). In the archaeological study of the processes organizing the deposits found in prehistoric pueblos, this radical social change cannot be ignored in abandonment frames of reference. Differences between historic and prehistoric societies do not necessarily imply that ritual abandonment burning never existed (a direct historical analogy) but, instead, suggest the hypothesis that pueblo peopleslike all other southwestern peoples-might have had more
complex and diverse ritual stratigraphy befitting their socially complex prehistory unfettered by colonial practices. Large sites such as Casas Grandes, Chihuahua (Figure 2), thought to have witnessed one of the greatest massacres in the history of the ancient Southwest, may instead document one of the most extensive examples of southwestern ritual stratigraphy. THE STRATIGRAPHYOF CASAS GRANDES, CHIHUAHUA The life history of Casas Grandes has been described in an eight-volume site report that remains one of the monumental achievements of American anthropology (Di Peso 1974; Di Peso et al. 1974). In that report, Di Peso argues

Walker * Stratigraphy and Practical Reason


House of the PIT OVENS




Moundof the


House of the :!;.WELL EAST PLAZA



of th SKULLS



House of the MACAWS HsohREHouse


House of the


N. Excavated Structures M. 0 30 60


Trenched Structures 90 120

FIGURE Map of the site of CasasGrandes,Chihuahua(adapted from Di Peso et al. 1974, vol. 2: fig. 451-2). 2. that, like the Kaaba, this piece of sky was enshrined at Paquime as a holy object (1874:420). During the 20th century, Casas Grandes was focus of the debate over the interaction between Mesoamerican and southwestern cultures (e.g., Di Peso 1974; Hewitt 1923; McGuire 1986). Hewitt (1923), for example, believed that the artifacts, architecture, and iconography of his excavations contributed directly to the rise of the more sophisticated study of these topics, particularly long-dis-

tance trade (Doyel 1994). Ironically, scholars working in that same research tradition today present a very different
picture of the site's life history. Subsequent redating of Casas Grandes tree-ring samples (Dean and Ravesloot 1993) to between 1200 and 1450 C.E. place it later than the Toltec and Chacoan cultures. The last 20 years of excavation and survey in the greater Chihuahuan region (e.g., Creel 1997; De Atley 1980; Lambert and Ambler 1961;

the Casas Grandes Valley were the remains of the fabled

Aztec homeland of Azatlin. Di Peso has refined this vision into a Mesoamerican enclave. In the 1950s when Di Peso

began his work in the region, strong cases of macroregional research in the American Southwest were rare, and

Minnis 1988; Ravesloot 1979; Schaafsma and Riley 1999;

Whalen and Minnis 1996) have undermined most facets


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of Di Peso's model (e.g., Dean and Ravesloot 1993:103; De Atley 1980:158; Douglas 1995; Minnis 1984, 1988; Schaafsma 1997; Schaafsma and Riley 1999; VanPool et al. 2000; Woosley and Olinger 1993). In aggregate, they suggest that in the 14th century the town of Casas Grandes shared ritual imagery and activities with its periphery but did not dominate it economically or politically. Minnis (1984, 1988), in particular, has found that shell, copper, and parrots-exotic objects important to ritual activities-were produced and hoarded for use at Casas Grandes rather than for distribution in a large regional trade network under the town's control. Indeed, approximately 90 percent of the turquoise recovered from the site was found in one foundation deposit beneath a large water reservoir.The remaining 10 percent came from what also appeared to be foundation deposits within the ruins. Although some of these exotics did go north, and turquoise went south, trade in these exotics does not appear to have fueled the rise of Casas Grandes. Instead, Casas Grandes may have been the primary consumer of these artifacts. The Chichimecan Revolt Contemporarystudies of southwesternwarfare,cannibalism, and violence (LeBlanc1999; Turnerand Turner 1999) continue to embrace Di Peso's interpretation of events at Casas Grandes and have not incorporated these new data into their explanations. Arguing that Di Peso's excavations represent only a sample of the large ruin, LeBlanc (1999:252) extrapolates from the 127 victims and derives a total body count in excess of 1,000. In contrast, based on the stratigraphicstructure of the site, I argue that the destruction at Casas Grandes represents the results of ritual activity. Given that Di Peso's history of this site is intricately tied to the pragmatic political and economic structure of his model, it seems that new political and economic inferences should lead to the reconsideration of the stratigraphy of the Chichimecan revolt. Casas Grandes contains complex deposits whose descriptions resemble ritual abandonment practices recognized at contemporary and earlierAnasazi, Mogollon, and Hohokam sites in the North American Southwest. In the ethnohistoric pueblos of the American Southwest, plaza spaces provide a stage for the performance of ceremonies and often possess shrines. The plazas at Casas Grandes appear to have been equally important ceremonial spaces. Human remains, macaws, and turkeys were buried in them as well as the "ceremonial hoard" previously described. The remains of 503 macaws, many of them buried whole, were recovered from Casas Grandes. Turkeys were also ceremonially buried, frequently headless. Turkeys and macaws are critical for many ethnohistoric pueblo rituals; their feathers adorn prayer sticks and other ceremonial tools including the masks still worn in pueblo ceremonies today. Their form of deposition and their places of deposition at Casas Grandes (plazas, human

burials, and ceremonial rooms) highlight their prehistoric religious importance and should prompt investigators to look for sequential organization in these contexts. For example, plaza 3-13 containing the cast-down "ceremonial hoard" also contained many human burials as well as the remains of 175 interred turkeys. Di Peso infers that the ceremonial hoard resulted from the ransacking of a nearby ceremonial room opening onto the plaza. Perhapsthese ritual objects came from that room-but not for the reasons he states. Perhaps the life histories of the ceremonial room, plaza, human remains, birds, and ceremonial hoard were intertwined in a series of activities that eventually resulted in the sequence of deposits he encountered. Rather than a succession of unrelated construction, use, and discard processes, there may have been a ritual organization or structure to these strata.The initial and continuing ceremonial uses of this plaza and ceremonial room may explain the subsequent deposition of human and bird burials as well as the final deposition of the "ceremonial hoard." In other areas of the site, stratigraphic sequences go largely unexamined or unexplained in part because they do not correspond in time to each other or the burning on the site's final day. The stratigraphic sequence associated with the site's walk-in well, for example, begs a sequential interpretation. Although this feature would have been an important defensive resource for the town during a siege, this practical function should not overwhelm inferences about the well's other functions. Wells, springs, and other sources of water are places of ritual importance worldwide (e.g., Brenneman and Brenneman 1995; Griffith 1992; Scarborough 1998). Among the desert peoples of the American Southwest water plays a prominent role in ceremonial activities. It is associated with the animating power of life, and harnessing this power is a major focus of ceremonial relationships with the sacred. As noted above, human scalps are more than war trophies; they are tools in rainbringing ceremonies. Construction, use, and abandonment of the Casas Grandes well betrays a similar prehistoric ritualization of water (Di Peso et al. 1974, 4:376-381). The well's construction included the building of a 12-meter-deep stairway from a small room (44B-8) adjacent to the plaza 3-8. A human skullcap was embedded, "bowl-like," in the floor of
this room (Di Peso et al. 1974, 4:380). A second small room was suspended above the stairwell. The only entrance to this room was by a ladder from a landing on the stairs. Di Peso recognizes that the human skullcap, hanging room, and generally secluded access to the well mark the area as religiously important. I would, however, also argue that the abandonment strata in the well are significant. A layer of fine sand covered the stairs. A mixture of "utilitarian" and "nonutilitarian" artifacts was lying on this sand layer and in subsequent layers above it (Walker and McGahee 2001). Di Peso interprets the lower layers as a desecration deposit thrown in during the site's destruction and attributes

Walker * Stratigraphy and Practical Reason the origin of the artifacts in the well's upper strata to accidents of natural infilling. In this interpretation the superposition of the sand layer on the stairs indicates, minimally, that the well was not in use at the time of the attack. Why the well was already in a state of abandonment has been left unexplained by both Di Peso and subsequent scholars. If the well had been purposely buried in a ritual abandonment, then an order emerges to tie together the small ceremonial rooms, the sand, and the lower and upper levels of the well's strata. Although this is a radically different interpretation of these data, it seems far less speculative when one reconsiders the evidence of the 127 unburied victims of the "revolt." The osteological descriptions as well as unpublished photographs of these victims indicate possible funerary and other ritual site-formation processes that could account for their patterning. Although depicted in the site maps as whole bodies lying prone in various stratigraphic contexts (mounds, plazas, and rooms), in actuality the vast majority of these individuals consist only of disarticulated and fragmentary skeletal parts. Di Peso qualitatively attributes their destruction to randomizing postdepositional disturbance processes. Yet there is structure to their deposition. Thirty-two (25 percent) were recovered from the centers of floors or central pockets in the fill of rooms; 26 (20 percent), from room corners; 36 (28 percent), from alcoves/bed platforms; 22 (17 percent), from against walls; 4 (3 percent), from doorway thresholds; 5, from plaza fill (4 percent); and 2 (2 percent), from drains. At first glance, this distribution may not seem structured until one recognizes that bed platforms/alcoves occur in the corners of rooms. Combining these two contexts accounts for 62 (49 percent) or almost one-half of the bodies. That 22 (17 percent) were piled against walls does not seem random; nor do the four deposits in doorways. Finally, one of the rare instances of an intact skeleton occurred in a plaza fill context where it would have been exposed to the most severe environmental and biological agents, begging the question: Was this individual really a victim or a plaza burial? Even more intriguing clues arise from comparisons of these 127 "victims" with the 447 individuals thought to have received considerate burial at the site. These 447 individuals occurred in only 276 graves because multiple burial was relatively common at the site. Eighty-three of
the multiple burials contained fragmentary remains not dissimilar from the warfare victims: "This count [83] involved not only combinations of articulated individuals but various groupings of primary and secondary or even partially articulated remains" (Di Peso et al. 1974, 8:328). Curiously, the frequencies of whole and fragmentary bird skeletons (macaws and other birds) as well as their contexts parallel those of the human remains quite closely: they occur in single and multiple burials, often whole but sometimes fragmentary. Like the 22 percent of human remains described as random deposits of war, 18 percent of the bird remains that did not occur in purposeful burials are described as miscellaneous deposits.


Excavatorsand subsequent analysts have always questioned why they have encountered only one-third of the expected burials for this site (Di Peso et al. 1974, 8:325; Ravesloot 1988:22). Perhaps at least some of the missing burials are those attributed to the battle. Given the recognized secondary burial, intramuralburial, and structure to the victim deposits, there is insufficient evidence to infer that these individuals fell in war. Perhaps wall edges, corners, doorways, and bed platforms served as places for the storage or disposal of human remains during and after the abandonment of specific rooms. The stratigraphicevidence from one of the site's earliest compounds, the House of the Serpent, exemplifies the complexities found in deposits at Casas Grandes. Although abandoned early in the occupation of the site, its strata held in miniature much of the ambiguity of Di Peso's interpretation of the site. The House of the Serpent The House of the Serpent, a freestanding single-story compound constructed and abandoned early in the site's history (see Figure3), takes its name from the nearby horned serpent effigy mound. Although only one story, the House of the Serpent possesses a staggered outer wall, a single entry, and a bastion-like corner (room 34) that could be interpreted as defensive. This compound possessed 28 structures surrounding a subterraneanroom (room 38) that was remodeled during the compound's occupation into two structures, 38A and 38B. Drawn on the wall of 38B was a depiction of the horned serpent. On the floor and above in deposits of roofing material were the remains of an articulated young adult male, 44 macaw skeletons, and parts of their pens. Above this stratum were two purposeful features, a baby burial and a multiple burial. The ramp entry of this structure had been sealed with cobbles that had partially fallen down the ramp. Associated in these upper stratawere fragmentaryhuman skeletal remains. Despite its defensibility, these deposits and architecture betray striking evidence of ritual activity. The siting of this compound adjacent to the horned serpent mound seems significant when one considers that room 38 is the only structure in the site that resembles a kiva. In fact, this structure's size, subterranean construction, and ramped
entry most closely resemble Mogollon great kivas found farther north in southwestern New Mexico (Lekson 1999b: 88; Wilcox 1999:100). Not surprisingly, Di Peso describes it as a ceremonial room. He does not assign the remodeled room a ritual function, however, despite two important traces of ritual activity: (1) a mural painted on the wall depicting a horned serpent and (2) the placement of a macaw aviary on the roof. As noted above, macaws are an important ritual commodity in the historic and prehistoric Southwest. Murals painted on the walls of ceremonial rooms depicting supernatural entities such as the horned serpent are also commonplace in the historic and later prehistoric pueblos.


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2-11 pLAZ-A pLAZPXS3f


FIGURE Map of the House of the Serpent at CasasGrandes,Chihuahua(adapted from Di Peso et al. 1974, vol. 5:476 fig. 1-5). 3.

Di Peso's interpretation of this structure'sstratigraphy reveals a patchwork of accidents and coincidental reuse behaviors that shore up key moments of the site's history. According to Di Peso and others (1974, 4:512-514), the structurewas built as a ceremonial room but was remodeled as a secular or utilitarian space. A macaw aviary was then built on its roof. Despite its prominence as a religious icon, the horned serpent drawing is described as a "doodle," drawn by a "youth" tending the macaws. The collapse of 38B's roof, which sealed 44 macaws and the youth in the

structure's lower fill, is attributed to an accident. Subsequently, the fill of the room served as a cemetery area for later occupants of the main ruin. In the final hours of the site, this same place was used as a redoubt. Defenders of the town attempted to seal the ramped entry of room 38 with stones. The attackers breached this temporary wall, pushing it down the ramp, and then killed the defenders, who died standing on the rubble of room 38A-B. In the passage of time, their bones were transformed into the room's assemblageof fragmentary human skeletalremains.

Walker * Stratigraphy and Practical Reason

Rather than a stream of unrelated coincidences, perhaps this stratigraphic series derives from a sequential organization that includes the construction of a kiva, a subsequent ritual closure of its ramp, and its remodeling into a more specialized ritual room. A ritual object, macaws, used in social interactions with spiritual forces, was produced on the roof of this room. Eventually whole and fragmentary human and bird skeletons were deposited in the room during its ritual abandonment. It was subse-quently reused for later burials. Similar depositional sequences in kivas and kiva complexes have become a recognized signature of ritual activity among the Mogollon and Anasazi cultures of the North American Southwest (e.g., Creel 1997; Walker 1995, 1998, Wilshusen 1986). CONCLUSIONS As long as the demon of practical reason twists and contorts archaeological inferences, the stratigraphic and behavioral structure of the past will remain the victim of warfare, greed, and other attributes of utilitarian models. If the demon is exorcised, what wonders will the deposits of prehistory hold? At Casas Grandes one of the greatest battles of southwestern prehistory is transformed into a town brimming with ritual stratigraphy. These strata suggest an abandonment involving the burning of rooms and, perhaps, the disturbance of earlier multiple burials or even the purposeful placement of human bones in room floor and room fill contexts. In the ancient American Southwest these data contribute to a growing database of ritually abandoned structures, hamlets, villages, communities, and regions. To the degree that the processes of war (e.g., death, retreat, and defensive village aggregation) led to such ritual abandonment activities, these strata contain the prehistoric logic(s) of ritual and war in the region. The study of such logic(s), however, will become possible only when archaeologists recognize that "material effectiveness, practicality, does not exist in any absolute sense but only in the measure and form projected by a cultural order" (Sahlins 1976:164). The behavioral structure of these strata and analogous deposits worldwide form a material foundation for tracing the histories of religious practice at various scales (rooms, sites, and groups of sites). Such structure may defy the analytical units of social theories that cut up the cake of custom into temporally discrete strata. In this new ritual archaeology, sequential questions will facilitate the identification of ritual structure with prehistoric structure: the strata of the archaeological record. H. WILLIAM WALKER Department of Sociology and AnthroNew Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM 88003 pology, NOTES Gaea McGahee skillfully drafted the figures in Acknowledgments. this article. A number of friends and colleagues (E. CharlesAdams, Rani Alexander,Jeff Hokanson, Vin LaMotta,LisaLucero,Ben Nel-


son, Axel Nielsen, Scott Rushforth, Mike Schiffer, Christine VanPool, Nieves Zedeflo) commented on various drafts. Jonathan Driver, Patty Jo Watson, three anonymous reviewers, and Linda and RobertSussman also read this piece for American Anthropologist. I thank them all for their suggestions and criticisms.A special thanks goes to Vin LaMottafor sharing his insights into the study of stratigraphic recoveryunits. REFERENCESCITED Adler,MichaelA. 1999 Picuris' Placein the PuebloWorld.InPicuris Pueblothrough Time:EightCenturiesof Changeat a NorthernRioGrande Pueblo.MichaelA.Adlerand Herbert Dick,eds. Pp. 189-207. W. Dallas: WilliamP.ClementsCenterforSouthwestern Studies, SouthernMethodistUniversity. Allport,Gordon 1942 TheUse of PersonalDocumentsin Psychological Science.SocialScienceResearch CouncilBulletin,49. New York: SocialScience Research Council. Asad,Talal 1993 Genealogiesof Religion: Disciplineand Reasonsof Powerin and Christianity Islam.Baltimore:John HopkinsUniversityPress. Bandelier,Adolph F.A. 1890 TheRuinsof CasasGrandes,PartsI and II.TheNation 51(1314):166-168, 185-187. 1892 FinalReport Investigationsamong the Indiansof the of United States,Carried Mainlyin the Years Southwestern on from 1880 to 1885, PartII.Archaeological Instituteof America Papers 4. Cambridge: Wilson. J. A. Bankoff,H. Arthur,and Frederick Winter 1979 A House-Burning Siberia. in 32(5):8-14. Archaeology Bartlett, John R. of Narrative Explorations Incidentsin and 1965[1854] Personal Texas,New Mexico,California, Sonora,and Chihuahua.2 vols. Chicago:RioGrandePress. Basso,KeithH. 1971 WesternApacheRaidingand Warfare. Tucson:Universityof Arizona Press. Bell, CatherineM. 1992 Ritual Oxford: OxfordUniversity Theory,RitualPractice. Press. Benedict, Ruth 1934 Patterns Culture.Boston:HoughtonMifflin. of Bibby,Geoffrey 1970 An Experiment with Time.Horizon12(2):96-101. Binford,LewisR. 1968 Archaeological In in Perspectives. New Perspectives Archaeoland eds. Pp.5-32. New ogy. SallyR.Binford LewisR.Binford, York: Aldine. 1981 Behavioral and Premise."Journal Archaeology the "Pompeii of Anthropological Research 37:195-208. 1987 Researching Frames Reference SiteStrucof and Ambiguity: ture.InMethodandTheoryforActivityArea Research: EthAn SusanKent,ed. Pp.449-512. New noarchaeological Approach. York: ColumbiaUniversityPress. Brand,Donald 1935 TheDistribution PotteryTypes NorthwestNew Mexico. of in American 37:287-305. Anthropologist Brenneman,WalterL.,Jr.,and MaryG. Brenneman 1995 Crossingthe Circleat HolyWellsof Ireland. Charlottesville: Press. Universityof Virginia Brew,John O. 1949 PartII: The Excavation Franciscan of Awatovi.InFranciscan Awatovi.RossG.Montgomery,WatsonSmith,andJohn O. Brew, eds. Pp.47-108. Papers the PeabodyMuseumof American of ArMA:Peabody Muchaeologyand Ethnology,36. Cambridge,
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