Shaping stones, shaping pueblos: Architecture and site layout in Bandelier National Monument, New Mexico, A.D. 1150 to 1600

Tineke Renee Van Zandt
Dept. of Anthropology, University of Michigan
July, 2006


Architecture and site layout have long been a focus of study by archaeologists in the American Southwest, with most such studies emphasizing the detailed architectural data collected through excavation. Although archaeological survey allows examination of changes over time and space that are often inaccessible with the more spatially and temporally limited single-site detail available through excavation, regional surveys have generally underemphasized collection of information on architecture and site layout. This study uses data from an archaeological survey of Bandelier National Monument in New Mexico, conducted by the National Park Service, to demonstrate how the data on architecture and site layout collected by a large-scale archaeological survey can be used to examine broader issues of regional continuity and change in Puebloan communities. During the time span from A.D. 1150 to 1600, occupation in the Bandelier area saw striking changes in population and settlement aggregation. Changes in how Puebloans built their structures and organized their communities can be seen in architecture, site layout, and settlement patterns. Particular variables examined include shaping of stone masonry, structure rubble volumes, structure configurations, number of stories, refuse scatter areas and densities, use of field houses, and ritually integrative architecture of kivas and plazas.
Changes in settlement size, site longevity, agricultural intensification, and social relations within and between communities as shown in architecture and site layout all prove to be at least partly amenable to investigation with data from archaeological survey. Changes in structure size, shape, and number of stories provide insight into the choices people were making with increasing settlement size. Measures of masonry shaping, rubble volume per room, and total artifact scatter area are useful in looking at expected site longevity. Information collected on kivas and plazas allows exploration of how Puebloan peoples facilitated and responded to settlement aggregation through manipulation of architectural spaces. And finally, patterns of site reuse allow investigation of some community boundaries. Overall, this study takes advantage of the time-depth and regional scope of archaeological survey to show that many attributes of site layout and architecture collected on survey are useful for investigating changes resulting from population growth and settlement aggregation.