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Archaeology Magazine

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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New Thoughts on Surviving in the Ancient Southwest

Friday, December 01, 2017

Grand Canyon fireCINCINNATI, OHIO—It had been thought that Ancestral Puebloans living in the Grand Canyon region were sustained by corn, like Ancestral Puebloans based in other parts of the Southwest, but little evidence of corn farming had been found there. According to a Laboratory Equipment report, Alan Sullivan of the University of Cincinnati thinks Ancestral Puebloans in the Upper Basin may have set small fires to clear away the grasses and weeds growing under nut and berry-producing pinyon and juniper trees and encourage the growth of nutritious, wild sprouts such as amaranth and goosefoot. In fact, Sullivan said the land was covered with such plants after a recent fire in the Upper Basin. Archaeologists have also found evidence of wild edible plants growing in abundance at the time Ancestral Puebloans lived in the area, and no burn scars, which would suggest big fires, in the rings of ancient trees. For more on Ancestral Pueblo sites, go to “Angry Birds.”

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