How to make a polity (In the central mesa verde region)

Stefani A. Crabtree, R. Kyle Bocinsky, Paul L. Hooper, Susan C. Ryan, Timothy A. Kohler

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


The degree to which prehispanic societies in the northern upland Southwest were hierarchical or egalitarian is still debated and seems likely to have changed through time. This paper examines the plausibility of village-spanning polities in the northern Southwest by simulating the coevolution of hierarchy and warfare using extensions to the Village Ecodynamics Project's agent-based model. We additionally compile empirical data on the population size distribution of habitations and ritual spaces (kivas) and the social groups that used them in three large regions of the Pueblo Southwest and analyze these through time. All lines of evidence refute an autonomous village model during the Pueblo II period (A.D. 890-1145); rather, they support the existence of village-spanning polities during the Pueblo II and probably into the Pueblo III period (A.D. 1145-1285) in some areas. One or more polities connecting the northern Southwest, with tribute flowing to an apex in Chaco Canyon, appears plausible during Pueblo II for the areas we examine. During Pueblo III, more local organizations likely held sway until depopulation in the late thirteenth century.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-95
Number of pages25
JournalAmerican Antiquity
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017


Dive into the research topics of 'How to make a polity (In the central mesa verde region)'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this