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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Shell use in the Mimbres region: Not so black and white
by Heacock, Erikalyn Karen Bassaraba, M.A., The University of Arizona, 2015, 332; 1590325
Abstract (Summary)

The Harris site (A.D. 500-1000) is an unusual Mimbres site because it has a Late Pithouse period component with no overlying Classic period pueblo. The excavations by the University of Las Vegas-Nevada (UNLV) were conducted at this site between 2007 and 2013. Shell artifacts, and their role in the Mimbres area, have not been extensively studied. I analyzed shell data from the UNLV field school, combined with Haury's excavated shell assemblage from his work at the site in the 1930's to interpret the role of shell at the Harris site. More specifically, I look at the role shell may have played in the ritual life of Mimbres society. Using context, artifact form, and co-occurring assemblage materials illuminates how shell was used in ritual practice.

My methodology includes recording specific information about the shell, including, but not limited to: context, condition (i.e., burnt vs. unburnt), description, measurements, artifact form, genus, and species if the shell is identifiable to that degree. Using this methodology allows me to observe patterns and infer whether specific artifact forms and/or genera correlate with certain contexts. Observing these patterns, I seek to observe the ritual practices in which shell was incorporated.

I use Bell (1992, 1997) and Bradley’s (2010) framework on ritual, which posits that ritual-like behavior has marked characteristics and occurs in a variety of quotidian and sacred contexts, which suggests a continuum rather than a dichotomy in the use of these spaces. To further understand the use of shell in ritual practices, looking at spatial and diachronic data is imperative. Therefore, five other sites along the Mimbres River have been chosen for comparison. These sites include Pithouse and Classic period components. This comparison allows me to investigate how shell use changed over time in the Mimbres region. The comparative sites include: NAN Ranch (A.D. 600/650-1150), Mattocks Ruin (A.D. 750/800-1130), Galaz Ruin (A.D. 550-1130), Swarts (A.D. 950-1150), and the Old Town site (A.D. 750-1150).

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Mills, Barbara J.
Commitee: Stiner, Mary C., Vokes, Arthur W.
School: The University of Arizona
Department: Anthropology
School Location: United States -- Arizona
Source: MAI 54/05M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Archaeology
Keywords: Harris Site, Mimbres, Religion, Ritual, Shells
Publication Number: 1590325
ISBN: 978-1-321-79491-5
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