Reviews of Pueblo Population and Society: The Arroyo Hondo Skeletal and Mortuary Remains
Adams, E. Charles
1982 Review of Pueblo Population and Society: The Arroyo Hondo Skeletal and Mortuary Remains, by Ann M. Palkovich. American Antiquity 1982: 911-914.
Palkovich presents an excellent study of pueblo population and society. The volume is full of charts and tables with information on the skeletal remains such as body orientation and presence and nature of disease; these will prove useful for future studies by researchers. The book’s most significant contribution was the analysis of disease. Almost 50 percent of infants and children died before age 5 due to osteolysis, a disease linked to iron deficiency and caused by, in part, malnutrition. Palkovich also noted a relationship between burial location, age, and status. For instance, the presence of hierarchy and “ascribed” status was evident in the relatively rich burials of three children under the “unripe” age of six. In closing, Palkovich compares her sample to five nearby sites, concluding there were no significant differences. There was a missed opportunity in the analysis of social status by only dividing burial locations into three: plaza, subfloor, and trash; a study of variation between roomblocks would have been useful. In sum, though, this volume is an excellent analysis and an important contribution to southwestern archaeology. In Appendix G, James Mackey compares Arroyo Hondo skeletal measurements to those from other ancestral villages, ultimately assigning Arroyo Hondo to Tewa-Tano ancestry. A study of “modern” tribes using similar measurements would have been useful here. In light of some unexpected similarities between ancestral groups, more work needs to be done in this regard.
Cybulski, J. S.
1981 Review of Pueblo Population and Society: The Arroyo Hondo Skeletal and Mortuary Remains, by A. M. Palkovich. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 56: 96-97.
Arroyo Hondo Pueblo, a site just south of Santa Fe and excavated by SAR in the early 1970s, experienced two periods of growth and decline (called Components I and II). Food shortages and drought are believed to be responsible in both cases. Palkovich’s monograph is the 3rd in a planned series of 12. In it, she focuses on 120 burials (108 from Component I and 12 from Component II) recovered from all over the site. Most description centers on mortuary practices such as grave accoutrements and preferential burial treatments. In Chapter 3, the author attempts to link paleodemographic variables and bone pathologies to environmental stress, but a lack of detail does not allow the reader to accurately assess the strength of Palkovich’s argument. Appendix G by James Mackey compares discrete characteristics of the Arroyo Hondo human remains to other southwestern archaeological sites. Despite a lack of descriptions of the skeletons themselves, this is a useful contribution to southwestern archaeology.
El-Najjar, Mahmoud Y.
1982 Review of Pueblo Population and Society: The Arroyo Hondo Skeletal and Mortuary Remains, by Ann M. Palkovich. Kiva 47: 178-179.
This contribution to the Arroyo Hondo Archaeological Series is a well presented and well thought out analysis of human skeletal remains that is novel in its integration of archaeological, climatic, historical, biocultural, and epidemiological/pathological information. Palkovich uses mortuary practices to test ethnographic models of age and status in burials from contemporary nearby pueblos. Pueblo residents apparently did not suffer from malnutrition during the pueblo’s early occupation, subsisting on corn, beans, and squash and protein from domesticated turkeys and wild game. With a drop in precipitation starting in 1335 A.D., population declined and abandonment occurred within 10 years. Re-occupation occurred around 1370 A.D., a time of increased moisture, but drought after 1410 A.D. again fueled abandonment by 1420 A.D. In examining skeletal remains for evidence of dietary stress, Palkovich is cautious and does not assume that disease or stress evident in bone represents the cause of death. Palkovich’s assessment that high infant and child mortality rates are the result of dietary deficiencies and infection are likely correct, while more study is needed into the causes of the bowing of long bones. Another useful piece of analysis that is not included in the book is the relationship between dietary deficiencies and growth arrest. Almost half of all recovered skeletal remains consisted of infants and children under age 5, likely illustrating population pressure from rapid growth and/or climatic deterioration.
Hill, James N.
1981 Review of Pueblo Population and Society: The Arroyo Hondo Skeletal and Mortuary Remains, by Ann M. Palkovich. American Anthropologist 83: 927-929.
Palkovich’s monograph is a detailed study of 120 burials from Arroyo Hondo Pueblo. Burial practices (burial locations, body positions, grave accoutrements, etc.) there were similar to those of contemporaneous pueblos. The major portion of her work focuses on nutrition stress and social organization, concluding that high infant/child mortality rates were caused by malnutrition and disease which were in turn caused by low carbohydrate foods and periodic food shortages caused by droughts. Another important conclusion is that, like modern Tewa, there are three age-status levels based on treatment of remains at death: those 0-6 years old, adults, and potentially high-status adults. In Appendix G, James Mackey compares Arroyo Hondo skeletal remains to those at other pueblos, concluding that the closest group genetically was Tewa-Tano groups who were indeed indigenous to the area. This book contains a great deal of useful tabulated data and is a rare and excellent combination of biological anthropology, ethnography, and archaeology.
1981 Southwestern Bookshelf. New Mexico Magazine September 1981: 56.
A book where archaeology and ancient burials make prehistoric lives poignantly real to modern people. Over half of children died before the age of 5, adults were short, and accidental death was common.
1981 Review of The Arroyo Hondo Skeletal and Mortuary Remains, by Ann M. Palkovich. The Masterkey 55: 156.
In this 3rd volume of a proposed 10-volume series dealing with the site of Arroyo Hondo, data is well presented. This series of volumes is being published by a number of scholars with expertise in different areas. When all volumes are published, Arroyo Hondo will serve as an important reference for southwest archaeology.
Phillips, Aileen Paul
1981 Looking at Books. The New Mexican July 23: D-6 – D-7.
Arroyo Hondo is an important example of the expansion and contraction of an agricultural village due to climate change in the Northern Rio Grande. The burial practices at the pueblo were similar to those at contemporaneous sites in, for example, flexed burials in separate pits and the practice of burying some individuals with grave goods like pottery and stone and shell jewelry.
Reis, J. R.
1981 Review of The Arroyo Hondo Skeletal and Mortuary Remains, by Ann M. Palkovich. Books of the Southwest June 1981: 6.
This volume presents a detailed analysis of human skeletal remains and mortuary practices. With a focus on dietary stress and longevity, one conclusion is that malnutrition explains the high infant and child mortality at the site.
Rösing, F. W.
Review of Pueblo Population and Society: The Arroyo Hondo Skeletal and Mortuary Remains, by Ann Palkovich. Neues Schriftum, page 145.
Overall this volume is an interesting and imaginative investigation, although in some points it is incomplete (for instance, there are no photographs of the skulls).