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Ancient Anasazi and Their Civilization Research Paper


The Anasazi were commonly referred to as the “Ancient Ones.” They belonged to the Southwestern cultures of the United States and settled around the Chaco Canyon. Their population was between ten to twenty thousand people. Even though the Anasazi civilization was among the most powerful in history and existed for around eleven centuries (A.D. 200 to A.D. 1300), there are no archaeological records that can help modern people understand their cultural beliefs, language features, and common traditions (Morgan, 2013). Nevertheless, remains of farmsteads and hamlets point to the active involvement of the Anasazi in construction and agriculture and trade with neighboring communities (Diamond, 2012). In this way, the Anasazi became known even though they did not develop a writing system, and their skill at building strong edifices is what most helped them leave their mark on history.

Their construction skills changed the Chaco Canyon and made it possible for paleoecologists, archaeologists, and dendrochronologists to discover that an ancient civilization had once been located in this area. The architecture of constructed edifices had several specific features that point to the Anasazi’s active involvement in agriculture and trade. All buildings had several stories and rooms. There were large spaces for storage in each construction, as well as rooms for food processing. In this way, almost every family of the tribe was engaged in similar activities (Morgan, 2013). That said, the Anasazi’s primary activities were connected to wood deterioration that was discovered when paleoecologists studied packrat midden.

Besides construction and wood deterioration, archaeologists also found the remains of cracked human bones similar to cracking bones of animals when killing them for food, thus hypothesizing about cannibalism. More than that, remains of luxury goods were discovered (such as pottery, furs, and jewelry), thus concluding that the civilization was a rich one (Diamond, 2012). Finally, the located edifices referred to as pueblos were both one- and two-storied that point to stratification in the ancient society (Morgan, 2013).

Recalling all that is known about the Anasazi, it is essential to note that even though they did not leave a written record, the message that the civilization did leave is even more powerful. Returning to the studies of paleoecologists, packrat midden changes with variances of nutrition. In this way, it points to vast wood deterioration. Therefore, Diamond (2012) believes that the Anasazi’s experience, especially regarding the collapse of their civilization, should be perceived as a demonstration of the importance of preserving the natural environment. As a trading empire, the Anasazi focused on becoming economically powerful, thus ignoring deforestation, which eventually led to the devastation and collapse of the empire. That said, Chaco’s lasting message comes down to the belief that there should be harmony between the development of civilization and the natural environment to guarantee humankind’s future welfare (Diamond, 2012).

To sum up, the ancient Anasazi is the civilization of contrast. Although they managed to become a powerful and rich empire, the level of cultural development was low. At the same time, regardless of the strong belief in the wisdom of Mother Earth, they deteriorated natural resources (Anasazi Foundation, 2013). So, the collapse of their civilization is a logical consequence of their desire to become rich, ignoring the future of Mother Earth and the Chaco Canyon.

References

Anasazi Foundation. (2013). The seven paths: Changing one’s way of walking in the world. San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler.

Diamond, J. (2012). Collapse: How societies choose to fail or succeed. New York, NY: Penguin Books.

Morgan, W. N. (2013). Ancient architecture of the Southwest. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press.

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