1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19
20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31 | 32
  are longer growing seasons, to highlands, where cold winter frost and heavy snows help control the ubiquitous corn pest, root cutworm. By having homes in both lowlands and highlands, the Anasazi were, for the most part, able to avoid a possible complete crop loss in any one year. Transhumance also provides that agriculture was done by virtually everyone, regardless of social status, and massive building projects such as Pueblo Bonito were constructed during the winter off season. This proposal helps resolve the major question of how large, complex buildings like Pueblo Bonito were constructed by the Chaco Canyon Anasazi. This proposal also explains within the context of known archaeology, how surplus food crops were grown and provided to the large seasonal work force needed for the massive construction projects as seen at the Chaco Canyon and its outliers.

“Food importation and a migratory segment of the population in the canyon seems the most reasonable, especially in view of the fact that early workers in the southwest such as Bandelier found many Pueblos were nearly abandoned in the summer and early fall months: ‘Last night Juan Jose told me that the pueblos were almost depopulated in summer, nearly everybody going out to the ranchos, where they live till September or October. But few remain in the pueblo. Even the cacique leaves also for this huerta.’ (From Banadelier’s journal, April 17, 1882 as recorded by Lange and Riley 1966, p. 245)” (Loose, Lyons).

The Zuni people who perhaps numbered 3,000 inhabitants in C.E. 1700, most of whom lived in the central village of Halona:wa raised extensive corn crops spread over an area from present day St. Johns, Arizona, to the Zuni Mountains (50-70 miles) in what is now western New Mexico. Crops grew all over the territory of the Zuni’s, and the people lived in the summers in widely separated villages (Hart).
Associated with transhumance is a new proposal for the load carrying capacity of “110 pound loads over a one-way distance ranging from 30-150 miles” (N. Malville). “Maize excavated from the oldest section of Pueblo Bonito was grown in fields fifty miles to the west, along Captain Tom Wash on the Chuska Mountain slopes. Six cobs dated between C.E. 850 and the mid-900s, and one dated between 1088 and 1150. Although we had a small sample of cobs, none matched the soil water chemistry of Chaco Canyon” (Cordell). This Tarahumara, Zuni, and Pueblo ethnographic information, indicates that corn was brought from throughout the San Juan Basin (approximately 100 mile radius of Chaco Canyon) to be stored in the Great Houses in the center of the Chaco system.

Why did the Chaco Canyon Anasazi abandon the San Juan River Basin? While drought and resource depletion were certainly contributing factors, the “straw that broke the camel’s back” was anemia caused by a chronic lack of dietary iron. This became an unresolvable crisis when the increasingly rare and difficult-to-obtain wildlife populations were pushed back more than a three-days run from the Great Houses, making fresh meat too difficult to obtain.

The History Channel asked, “Were the Chaco Canyon Anasazi peaceful Hopi ancestors or terrorist cannibals?” (Arts & Entertainment). Cannibalism during the Chaco Canyon Anasazi time periods is a well documented yet controversial fact. As “wild meat,” the best source of dietary iron, became increasingly rare, some of the Chaco Canyon Anasazi, who were directly descended by family lineage from the Mesoamerican male founders, may well have resorted to cannibalism to provide the absolutely required dietary iron. In turn, the descendents of the female indigenous clans may have rejected cannibalism and ultimately expelled those choosing high density Mesoamerican life-styles further and further south. This process began in approximately C.E. 1200 with widespread warfare, which is marked by a hiatus in the parrot importation and the burning of many villages, and continued with the introduction of Katsina religious concepts C.E. 1275-1300. This system wide event of warfare, I suggest, was a revolt by indigenous clans to push out the Mesoamerican descended clans. I propose to call this event the “Anasazi Reformation” in religion, social values, and life-styles. The Anasazi completely disappeared with the complete destruction of Paquimé in C.E. 1425-1475.
Hopi scholars relate concerning the cannibalism issue “

  There were also people who had traditions of human sacrifice, who were also not admitted into Hopi society” (Emory Sekaquaptewa).

Chaco Anasazi - Political Organization - Several models of political organization have been suggested. One model is a decentralized matrilineal society resembling the Hopi of today. The other is an extremely aggressive military style dictatorship that sponsored “terrorist cannibals.” My research indicates that the Chacoans had a cooperative agricultural enterprise in the tonnage of corn stored in their extensive silo systems. The Chacoans dedicated themselves to the building of the massive great houses in exchange for the benefits of a secure food supply and perhaps even access to “vision quest” tesquino corn beer.

Tesquino-Corn Beer Production. How could the Chaco Canyon Anasazi pay a willing work force to do all of the building? The Chaco Canyon Anasazi demonstrated advanced knowledge in many fields, yet no evidence has emerged for brewing a very simple corn beer. Cultures throughout North America made corn beer with regularity during the Chaco time period. I do not know of any grain producing society on earth that did not at one time or another produce some type of alcoholic beverage. As far as I can discover, no study has been undertaken to investigate whether corn beer might have been made by the sophisticated Anasazi. Certainly, corn beer is very easy to make and in moderate quantities can be very beneficial for general health due to its high caloric and mineral content. Tesquino would have been much more potent for these people as the alcohol and sugars would have been enough in and of themselves to produce a mild or even advanced state of euphoria considering their normal low calorie, low sugar diet. The making of corn beer on a large scale for religious ceremonies would have given the Chaco “elites” tremendous power over distribution of this “sacrament” to surrounding populations. The making of corn beer could very well be the overriding reason that Pueblo Bonito contains such a great number of small round rooms that could have been used as granaries. The making of corn beer may very well provide the avenue for research into the use of the large round rooms or what have been previously identified as “giant kivas.” This is another point for investigation which will provide the ultimate answer for the Pueblo Bonito Great House as well as the entire Chaco Culture. (Disclaimer: To date, there has been no conclusive evidence for corn beer production.)
Fertilizer Production-Challenge to Hohokam Ballcourt Theory - David Wilcox, the authority on ballcourts and senior curator of anthropology at the Museum of Northern Arizona, stated in the June 2005 issue of Arizona Highways, “Well, the short answer is we don’t know (what ballcourts are)”. After seventy years, why is there no proof or even any strong and convincing evidence for ballcourts? The Hohokam oval might be called “useful monumental religious art” representing the female earth inviting the deposit of male fertile rain which is associated with lightning storms. From Tarahumara ethnographic reports, the earth is a human female or human females are the earth, not just representatives of these concepts. Equally, the sky is a human male or the human male is the same as the sky. The earth and the sky, being human, act like humans relating to sexual and reproductive activities, and equally, humans act like the “mother earth” and “father sky.” This religious belief gives us the key to unlocking the mystery of the Hohokam ballcourts. In 1967, Edwin N. Ferdon, Jr. challenged the ballcourt theory noting that the original proposal by Emil Haury in 1935 was essentially that the “elongated depression” looked like a ballcourt, but that in the interim years to 1967 this theory was not supported by further evidence. Ferdon proposed that the elongated depression looked like a Papago “dance court.” Since 1967 Ferdon’s proposal has not been demonstrated. To date, these are essentially the only two proposals put forward. Yet it can be argued that if the Hohokam and others built elongated depressions that are essentially oval in shape and collect rainwater, that is exactly what the Hohokams intended to build. My proposal is based on Tarahumara ethnographic religious beliefs and scientific evidence concerning soluble nitrates contained in monsoonal rain along with intense lightning storms. I have built and tested scale models that reflect the shape of Hohokam “ballcourts” that have successfully demonstrated this proposal. I now believe that these oval topographical depressions

copyright 2005 - Richard D Fisher -