Pre-Classic Mayan archaeological foundations for these proposals.
Since I completed this paper I have found substantial support that some of these ideas were in circulation since the Mayan pre-Classic period of 600BC-AD150 in the Mirador Basin of northern Guatemala. Professor Richard D. Hansen under the sponsorship of National Geographic and documented on PBS states “the Mirador Basin of the pre-Classic Mayan period had an economic agricultural engine where marsh muck from local swamps was deposited into terraces to produce fertile soil for the growing of corn and other crops. These deposits equaled thousands of tons of organic soil material transported. Some of these terraces were more than 3½ meters (10 feet) deep.” Professor Hansen further stated that these agricultural methods are evident throughout the Mayan era into the Aztec Chinampa swamp dredging agricultural system.
This ancient knowledge would be the basis for our Paquimé/Anasazi/Hohokam “natural systems” agricultural methods for producing fertilizer.
In an additional interesting note, Professor Hansen also stated that “at the time of his death Norman Hammond was investigating ‘Chultunes’ which may be bedrock storage chambers for the purposes of preserving ‘smoked’ corn. This might be the basis for the ancient knowledge of the Paquimé granary/Anasazi kiva long term storage technology.
Hansen, Ricahrd D.
2004. Project Director Miravel Basin Project and President of Foundation for Anthropological Research and EnvironmentalStudies, Rupert, Idaho. Agricultural Foundation s of Pre-Classic Mayan Civilizations. Personal Interview with Richard D. Fisher, June 7, 2004.
2002. Climatic and Environmental Variability in the Rise of Maya Civilization: A Preliminary Perspective from Northern Peten. Ancient Mesoamerica , 13 (2002): 273-295. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, England.
ADDENDUM 2 -
Proposal for investigating the natural and human systems theory as applied to the Chaco culture system.
I recently made a short trip to the Chaco cultural area for the purposes of investigating the possibility of analyzing the many mysterious architectural and other features from the perspective of my proposed theoretical interpretation. I also wanted to interview the primary archaeologist in person and in-depth as to the most current thinking on the Chacoan riddle. What I found is that currently most researchers are trying to interpret the Chaco phenomenon from a Hopi/Pueblo ceremonial perspective. Any unexplained item is tossed into the category of “ceremonial.” In most cases, the “ceremonial” interpretation has very little support or relationship with the archaeological evidence pre-AD1275. Even the road system which should have a practical application is identified as a ceremonial feature. I am proposing that these features be evaluated from a practical usage viewpoint.
My previous research indicates a major break in the Anasazi political, religious, and trade system in AD1275. Current Hopi/Pueblo interpretations do not adequately explain the architecture of the pre-Anasazi reformation period. I came away from Chaco with more questions than I began the research expedition with. I also found a great number of “factoids” that contraindicate some current interpretations and support a “natural and human systems” approach to investigating the puzzle. The following is a summary of some of those factoids.
1. For example, I could find no specific architectural construction such as the Hohokam sweetwater mulching reservoir (ballcourt) at Chaco Canyon. There is good reason to believe that the Chacoans had the same knowledge as the Hohokam and the Paquimé culture groups. They should have some type of feature that indicates the practical use of fixed nitrogen rainfall and other strategies for collecting nitrates and phosphates which are both accomplished through mulching in liquid environments. What I did find, however, a system of architectural rings or circles (10-30 meters across) within sight of giant kivas that do collect rainfall in “basins” (Tom Windes personal interview June 3, 2004). I also found dams on rincons that collect detritus and may have been used as gray water mulching reservoirs.
The Chaco road system may also be reinvestigated as a swale. This structure currently collects detritus and perhaps a modest amount of runoff. Cryptobiotic soil is a blue green algae commonly found throughout the Chacoan system. Some research indicates that during the monsoon season this type of biological material produces four hundred times more nitrate than is found in other types of soils when measured in slickrock runoff. Apparently, pollen analysis was not done when the Chacoan road system was trenched and analyzed (Chris Kincaid, personal interview June 3, 2004 ). I am proposing for further study that the cryptobiotic soil along with the known higher summer rainfall pattern during the Chacoan era was exploited by the Anasazi in swales that had been interpreted as roads. As the Chacoan agricultural system remains a conundrum, I propose that the “road system” just like the Hohokam ballcourt system be investigated for a possible agricultural feature . Both are topographical depressions and as such they collect water. In most cases roads as well as ballcourts are built to drain water quickly away. It follows that if the Chacoans built linear swales that in fact collect water, I propose that collecting water and naturally occurring nitrogen carried by water was their intended use.
Prehistoric road shows as gentle swale south of Chaco Canyon National Historic Park, New Mexico.
Low aerial view to the north toward Chaco Canyon. Depressions of ancient road beds are quite visible in some areas.
Aerial photograph courtesy of Adriel Heisey © 2004
2. Another example is interpreting giant kivas from a ceremonial only perspective. I propose an in-depth evaluation of giant kivas from a practical and functional perspective. These kivas consistently contain an “oversized” fire structure, two rectangular vault structures, and various numbers of polished sandstone or limestone disks which in some cases are not from the local area and weigh several hundred pounds each (Roger Moore, personal interview May 27/June 4, 2004). One of the various explanations for the floor vaults is sprouting corn or beans. The disks are explained as an integral part of the foundation of support pillars. I don't believe it was necessary to have these disks as a foundation. Rather their shape and size suggests circular grinding stones used in processing grain. I am proposing that during this time period the giant kivas had a utilitarian purpose of producing teswino (corn beer) or penole (parched corn). Three of the four necessary items for producing these two Native American corn products are archaeologically recovered in the giant kivas. The vaults could have been used for sprouting corn, the disk could have been used for producing or grinding the mash, and the fire structure is necessary for either purpose of making teswino or penole. The missing item is the caldron or wok used for boiling or roasting the corn products in large amounts. Certainly, the method for the efficient large scale production of these food products is not known at Chaco , and perhaps some artifacts that may have been used in this process may have been misidentified or misinterpreted.
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