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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Ritual Assemblages and Ritual Economies: The Role of Chacoan and Post-Chacoan Sodalities in Exotic Exchange Networks, A.D. 875–1300
by Gruner, Erina P., Ph.D., State University of New York at Binghamton, 2019, 480; 27666522
Abstract (Summary)

In this dissertation, I argue that we cannot simply consider exotic materials as static indices of status, or isolated variables within a prestige economy. Rather, we must examine their roles as inalienable objects within complex assemblages of ritual paraphernalia. Prestige among historic Pueblo groups is anchored in religious authority, which in turn is validated by possession of material objects including ritual paraphernalia and rare materials. Materials such as feathers, shell, and precious stones are used in ritual, and the procurement, distribution, and use of these sacra is often proscribed to specific religious roles and contexts. I argue that similar systems were operant during the preHispanic period. As exotic materials were exchanged between different regions of the preHispanic Southwest, so too were embedded ideologies regarding their use within a suite of cult objects, and ideologies regarding the social roles of the persons that possessed them.

My study addresses the construction and circulation of ritual paraphernalia and exotic trade goods between elite sodalities and kin groups during the Chacoan and the post-Chacoan periods, A.D. 875–1300, through examination of artifact technologies, distributions, and depositional contexts. During the late expansion of the Chaco system, Chacoan ritual objects were selectively replicated at allied centers along the Chacoan periphery. The distribution of Chacoan ritual paraphernalia beyond the San Juan Basin coincides with important nodes in macro-regional exotic exchange networks, suggesting that shared religious affiliation between distant leaders facilitated the exchange of exotic materials—and conversely, that exchange of exotic materials prompted the exchange of religious ceremonies between regions. As Chacoan hegemony unraveled during the 12th century, Chacoan ritual paraphernalia appeared at rising centers in new regions; as did new patterns in the acquisition, distribution, and use of ritually significant exotic materials. I argue that during the post-Chacoan period, the material foundations of Chacoan theocracy were co-opted by leaders in peripheral regions to create continuity in a time of political rupture. The reframing of post-Chacoan ritual practice had significant organizational implications for the multi-regional networks that distributed ritually significant exotic materials.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Van Dyke, Ruth
Commitee: McGuire, Randall, Webster, Laurie, Smart, Pamela
School: State University of New York at Binghamton
Department: Anthropology
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 81/7(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Archaeology, Native American studies
Keywords: Chaco, Perishable, Post-Chacoan, Prestige trade, Ritual paraphernalia, Sinagua
Publication Number: 27666522
ISBN: 9781392699256
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