Rio Grande pueblo societies took shape in the aftermath of significant turmoil and migration in the thirteenth century. In the centuries that followed, the size of Pueblo settlements, level of aggregation, degree of productive specialization, extent of interethnic exchange, and overall social harmony increased to unprecedented levels.
Economists recognize scale, agglomeration, the division of labor, international trade, and control over violence as important determinants of socioeconomic development in the modern world. But is a development framework appropriate for understanding Rio Grande archaeology? What do we learn about contemporary Pueblo culture and its resiliency when Pueblo history is viewed through this lens? What does the exercise teach us about the determinants of economic growth more generally?
The contributors in this volume argue that ideas from economics and complexity science, when suitably adapted, provide a compelling approach to the archaeological record. Contributors consider what we can learn about socioeconomic development through archaeology and explore how Pueblo culture and institutions supported improvements in the material conditions of life over time. They examine demographic patterns; the production and exchange of food, cotton textiles, pottery, and stone tools; and institutional structures reflected in village plans, rock art, and ritual artifacts that promoted peaceful exchange. They also document change through time in various economic measures and consider their implications for theories of socioeconomic development.
The archaeological record of the Northern Rio Grande exhibits the hallmarks of economic development, but Pueblo economies were organized in radically different ways than modern industrialized and capitalist economies. This volume explores the patterns and determinants of economic development in pre-Hispanic Rio Grande Pueblo society, building a platform for more broadly informed research on this critical process.