Reviews of Food, Diet, and Population at Prehistoric Arroyo Hondo Pueblo, New Mexico
1987 Review of Food, Diet, and Population at Prehistoric Arroyo Hondo Pueblo, New Mexico, by Wilma Wetterstrom. Albuquerque Archaeological Society Newsletter 22: 5-6.
Despite the vast size and implied large population of Arroyo Hondo Pueblo, Wetterstrom suggest that the food base was nevertheless meager and precarious. Using microbotanical remains, pollen samples, and ethnographic information, Wetterstrom maintains that corn was the pueblo's main crop, that beans were probably more important that the low number of remains suggest, and that squash was not a major crop due to the site's high elevation. Among wild plants, chenoam seeds were the most abundant. Mammals, especially hoofed mammals, provided the largest share of meat in the Arroyo Hondo diet. Neighboring villages likely restricted the pueblo's territory and confined it to its less desirable location. 1335 marked the beginning of a series of droughts. At this point, inhabitants of Arroyo Hondo may have collected natural resources more intensively or intensified trading with nearby communities. The droughts most certainly narrowed the pueblo's resource pool and lowered the numbers of fit adults in each subsequent generation as evidenced by dated burials and building slumps.
Book Details: Pueblo Diet
1986 The Santa Fe New Mexican 26 December: 29.
An Analysis of food (domesticated crops, wild plants, and fauna) remains suggests that over the course of the pueblo's occupation, roughly A.D. 1300 to 1425, there were several periods of starvation. This is borne out of skeletal remains that suggest population decreases and high mortality rates among children.
Book Examines Precarious Diet Among Early Pueblo Dwellers
1987 Albuquerque Journal 7 January: 6.
This book details the life of Ancestral Puebloans who lived about 5 miles from present day Santa Fe and the effect chronic food shortages had on their lives. It is the sixth book in a series of monographs published by SAR. Over the pueblo’s occupation, there were several periods of starvation. This is supported by skeletal remains that indicate population dips, frequent bone abnormalities and diseases, and increased child mortality rates, a pattern consistent with modern non-industrialized societies. The book contains 50 tables of data and additional reports on pollen records and woody material artifacts.
Chartkoff, Joseph L.
1988 Review of Food, Diet, and Population at Prehistoric Arroyo Hondo Pueblo, New Mexico, by Wilma Wetterstrom. The Artifact 26: 81-85.
Starting in 1970, the Arroyo Hondo Pueblo project was sponsored by SAR and received funding for three years of intensive field research from the National Science Foundation. As a whole, the project was one of the major archaeological research efforts undertaken in New Mexico in the 20th century. The book is attractively designed and of high research quality. This publication in particular deals with the findings and implications of botanical analysis at the site. The main paper examines the relationship between food and culture, specifically the effects of nutritional stress on an environmentally marginalized population. Maize and beans were staple crops; they were supplemented by wild food collection, lesser garden crops, and hunting. A large Pueblo IV village, ecological stresses later in the 14th century resulted in population diminishment and partial abandonment before final abandonment after A.D. 1410. Even at its height, Wetterstrom reasons that the site’s environment was not able to provide its inhabitants a sufficient diet even under favorable circumstances. The second part of the book contains two shorter and more technical papers dealing with both the pollen record and woody materials from the site. The publication could have been helped by page numbers on the table of contents and illustrations of lesser-known artifacts, but these mechanical errors do not detract from the publication’s genuine scholarly contribution.
Fontana, Bernard L.
1987 Review of Food, Diet, and Population at Prehistoric Arroyo Hondo Pueblo, New Mexico, by Wilma Wetterstrom. Books of the Southwest March 1987: 4.
This book is another stellar installment in the Arroyo Hondo series. It connects studies of plants, both domestic and wild, to drought, higher child mortality rates, and eventual outmigration. One demurral is that Lang’s essay on woody artifacts did not include illustrations.
Foster, Michael S.
1989 Review of Food, Diet, and Population at Prehistoric Arroyo Hondo Pueblo, New Mexico, by Wilma Wetterstrom. Southwestern Lore 55(3): 32-33.
Arroyo Hondo was founded in A.D. 1300 and for the next 120 years there were several abandonments before final abandonment in the 1420s. The first part of the volume focuses on food, diets, droughts, and their effects on the human population of Arroyo Hondo. Discussion focuses on cultivated and wild plants. Their nutritional and caloric values are listed in Appendices B and C. The effects of drought would have most affected children; this would then affect the profile of the adult population 20 to 30 years later. The book provides data on a poorly described area in Southwestern prehistory. Wetterstrom also recognizes the parameters of the data with which she works. All the book lacks are page numbers on the table of contents.
Glassow, Michael A.
1988 Review of Food, Diet, and Population at Prehistoric Arroyo Hondo Pueblo, New Mexico, by Wilma Wetterstrom. American Antiquity 53(3): 664-665.
This book is largely devoted to Wetterstrom’s paper, but there are also smaller descriptive reports on ethnobotanical pollen and woody artifacts. The study focuses on the implications of an agriculturally marginal environment and fluctuations in resource productivity between A.D. 1300 and 1425. The author first attempts to reconstruct the food production system of the pueblo’s population. In sum, productivity was only barely able to support a population close to capacity for the pueblo. Migration from the pueblo and high child mortality were likely responses. Attempting to identify periods of food stress was not wholly successful. Although a satisfying conclusion was not reached due, in part, to a lack of data, Wetterstrom succeeded in identifying a research problem pertinent to most southwestern sites.
1988 Review of Food, Diet, and Population at Prehistoric Arroyo Hondo Pueblo, New Mexico, by Wilma Wetterstrom. North American Archaeologist 9(4): 156-161.
In this publication, Wetterstrom presents a model of the interaction between climatic, nutritional, and demographic variables. In a straightforward fashion, the author argues that dietary stress has the most impact on the very young. To understand food deprivation’s effect on a population, one must understand its effect on this segment of the population first. Dendrochronological data suggests the site was abandoned from roughly A.D. 1345 to 1370 with the population of Component II never reaching that of Component I. A drought lasting three years or longer would be most likely to disrupt the food and storage systems on a village. Indeed, bone pathologies are most prominent among those who died at age 5 and younger. In sum, Wetterstrom’s analysis faces potential weaknesses directly, does not rely too heavily on ethnography, and presents a thorough history of food in the southwest through time.
Schultes, Richard Evans
1988 Review of Food, Diet, and Population at Prehistoric Arroyo Hondo Pueblo, New Mexico, by Wilma Wetterstrom. Economic Botany 42(1): 28.
This book is divided into two parts, the first being Wetterstrom’s paper on diet and population at Arroyo Hondo and the second being two short catalogs on the pollen record and woody artifacts. The first part includes four chapters outlining food plants, existence in a marginal environment, bad times in a marginal environment, and diet’s effect on demography. This book is a large step forward in the developing field of southwestern archaeoethnobotany.
1987 Review of Food, Diet, and Population at Prehistoric Arroyo Hondo Pueblo, New Mexico, by Wilma Wetterstrom. Choice May 1987: 364.
Arroyo Hondo pueblo lasted for about 125 years in the Pueblo IV period. Its occupation was marked by two separate periods of rapid growth (associated with adequate moisture), each followed by large declines (associated with drought). In sum, Wetterstrom’s model links drought, dietary stress, malnutrition, and high child mortality with deleterious effect on the village’s social organization. Although an unproven hypothesis, Wetterstrom’s contribution is a thoughtful exploration with cross-cultural implications.
Wiseman, R. N.
1987 Review of Food, Diet, and Population at Prehistoric Arroyo Hondo Pueblo, New Mexico, by Wilma Wetterstrom. El Palacio 93(1): 44-45.
Wetterstrom’s paper is a tour de force carrying capacity study. Although its focus on known or reconstructed available plants has fallen out of favor, this study nevertheless has a great number of strengths regarding 14th century life in the Middle Rio Grande. Wetterstrom constantly points out weaknesses and underlines assumptions and does not present anything as an established “given.” Bohrer’s pollen study is thorough and largely presented in table form. This section could have been helped by the inclusion of a concluding summary. Lang’s paper on artifacts made of plant materials is similarly detailed, but also lacks a summary or conclusions. This latest volume on Arroyo Hondo is a must for all persons interested in Middle Rio Grande prehistory.