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The course of cultural development is examined in the late archaic cultures of the middle Rio Grande valley. New Mexico. Th1s course ls viewed as a process of culture change responding to the impetus from cultural and extra-cultural factors. Change in cultural patterns accessible through the archaeological record, including both economic and social patterns, is delineated; and an attempt is made to explicate this change 1n terms of cultural adaptation. Ecological change 1s recognized as a major factor influencing culture change at the archaic level of development. but other factors are considered.

Results of an intensive archaeological survey and subsequent excavation of eight archaic sites, including Boca Negra Cave, on the mesa northwest of the city of Albuquerque are presented. Data from both excavated and unexcavated sites are used to define two newly discovered cultures. the Rio Rancho and Alameda Phases. local manifestations of Basketmaker II and early Basketmaker III cultures respectively. The development of lithic and ceramic techniques, dwelling construction, artifact assemblages, and artifact form and usage is traced through these cultures in detail. Archaeological data and analysis are supplemented by palynological, biological, botanical, and radiocarbon studies contributed by experts in these fields.

Late archaic cultural development in the area is seen as resulting primarily from adaptation to oltlang1ng ecological conditions abetted by influxes of southern people and traits. In addition to the development of material traits, subsistence patterns, such as the decreasing importance of hunting and the increasing dependence on maize horticulture, are shown to be part of this adaptation. The apparent stability of social patterns, as indicated by residence group size and the level of group integration, contrasts markedly with the changing economic patterns. Only at the end of the archaic period, when the mesa was abandoned by the form native cultures for the nearby valley, again probably because of the strain placed on economic patterns by ecological change, did changes occur ln these social patterns.

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First Committee Member (Chair)

Frank Cummings Hibben

Second Committee Member

Harry Wetherald Basehart

Third Committee Member

John M. Campbell


This dissertation has two parts. The second part of dissertation is attached in the additional files. Some tables and figures are missing.

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