Complexity, Hierarchy, and Scale: A Controlled Comparison between Chaco Canyon, New Mexico, and la Quemada, Zacatecas

  • Nelson B
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Archaeologists have held a lengthy debate around the question of complex sociopolitical organization in the prehistoric American Southwest. Recent theory, though, urges scholars to "unpack" the properties of complexity. In this paper a southwestern regional center is compared with one on the northern Mesoamerican periphery in terms of properties generally associated with sociopolitical complexity: population size, labor investment in monumental construction, extent of road systems, mortuary practices, and symbolism of integrative facilities. Contrary to the conception of Mesoamerican societies as larger and more politically centralized, Chaco Canyon appears to have been organized at a larger scale than La Quemada. Yet it is argued that La Quemada was more hierarchically structured. Correctly evaluating complexity in both nature and degree is not only theoretically significant, but has implications for particular models of long-distance interaction between such large centers. CR - Copyright © 1995 Society for American Archaeology

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  • Ben A Nelson

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