Understanding abandonments in the North American Soutwest

Margaret Nelson, Gregson Schachner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


The North American Southwest is renowned for its rich archaeological record. Thousands of prehistoric houses and ceremonial centers remain partially standing or form mounds that mark prehistoric villages that were once actively occupied and remain important to the descendants. The visibility of archaeological remains has sparked interest in questions of abandonment among archaeologists and the lay public. We explore reasons for this interest, how it is manifest in archaeological research, and how perception of that research influences popular views of the past and of native people. Our focus is on explanations for the causes of site and regional abandonment as well as on explications of the processes by which abandonments occur. Essential to our perspective is the view that abandonment is a process that involves decisions to move, which may be promoted by dire circumstances, but which are most often settlement strategies. The process of moving requires economic, social, and political decisions about the places from which people move and to which they move.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)167-206
Number of pages40
JournalJournal of Archaeological Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2002


  • Abandonment
  • Environment
  • Migration
  • North American Soutwest

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology
  • Arts and Humanities(all)


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