A History of the Ancient Southwest

Steve Lekson

Sparks, SAR Boardroom

Tuesday, April 12, 2011, 3:00–4:00 pm, Free

Mimbres BowlMimbres BowlCourtesy of the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History.Mimbres BowlCourtesy of the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History.

The history of the ancient Southwest played out on a continent rife with states and empires, commerce and conquest. Southwestern societies were neither ignorant nor immune to their world. “How might archaeology’s views of the past change, with the Southwest in that context?” is the question that archaeologist Steve Lekson will be examining. Dr. Lekson is curator and professor at the Museum of Natural History and Department of Anthropology, University of Colorado and currently is a visiting research associate at SAR.

Published by SAR Press:
A History of the Ancient Southwest

According to archaeologist Stephen H. Lekson, much of what we think we know about the Southwest has been compressed into conventions and classifications and orthodoxies. This book challenges and reconfigures these accepted notions by telling two parallel stories, one about the development, personalities, and institutions of Southwestern archaeology and the other about interpretations of what actually happened in the ancient past. While many works would have us believe that nothing much ever happened in the ancient Southwest, this book argues that the region experienced rises and falls, kings and commoners, war and peace, triumphs and failures. In this view, Chaco Canyon was a geopolitical reaction to the “Colonial Period” Hohokam expansion and the Hohokam “Classic Period” was the product of refugee Chacoan nobles, chased off the Colorado Plateau by angry farmers. Far to the south, Casas Grandes was a failed attempt to create a Mesoamerican state, and modern Pueblo people—with societies so different from those at Chaco and Casas Grandes—deliberately rejected these monumental, hierarchical episodes of their past.

Read The New York Times story featuring Steve Lekson:
Scientist Tries to Connect Migration Dots of Ancient Southwest.”

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