Abandonment is not as it seems: An approach to the relationship between site and regional abandonment

Margaret Nelson, Michelle Hegmon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Abandonments of residential sites by prehistoric farmers are most often explained as failures or responses to poor social or environmental conditions. These perspectives ignore the role of residential mobility among farmers as a regionally sustainable approach to land use. To understand the various reasons for abandonment of residential sites, movement patterns at both site and regional scales must be empirically linked. In this study of the eastern Mimbres area of southwestern New Mexico, we examine the relationship between site and regional occupation patterns. Rather than assume that site abandonment implies regional depopulation and that site abandonments are responses to stress or crisis, we use multiple lines of evidence to document the occupational histories of sites in an effort to evaluate whether the abandonment of villages correlates with regional abandonment. Architectural, ceramic, and Chronometric data provide evidence for occupational continuity and growth of small residential sites during the twelfth century in the eastern Mimbres area in the context of the depopulation of large villages. This regional reorganization in settlement suggests a strategy for maintaining regional occupational continuity. Copyright

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)213-235
Number of pages23
JournalAmerican Antiquity
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Archaeology
  • Museology


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