The next installment in my “Why We Fight” series has been posted over at the Scientific American Guest Blog! It’s called In Search of the Origins of Warfare in the American Southwest. The post looks at some archaeological research in Arizona that tried to answer the question, what does a war look like a thousand years after it ends? Archaeologists pieced together the history of a prehistoric Native American group known as the Kayenta Anasazi and found that their story may challenge ideas about where human warfare came from. It’s a cool story, so check it out!
Further reading for anyone arriving here from the Scientific American Guest Blog who’s interested in learning more about warfare in the American Southwest:
Gambler’s House is an excellent blog dedicated to archaeological research in the Southwest, with a specific focus on archaeology at Chaco Canyon.
For a more recent, model-based approach to the archaeology of warfare in the prehistoric Southwest, read “A Scale Model of Seven Hundred Years of Farming Settlements in Southwestern Colorado” (pdf) by Timothy Kohler and Mark Varien, a chapter in Becoming Villagers: Comparing Early Village Societies, University of Arizona Press: Tucson (2010).
There is an ongoing controversy over whether cannibalism was practiced in the prehistoric Southwest, and how this behavior may have been tied into warfare and militarism. Gambler’s House has a great series of posts that give an overview of the controversy, the evidence for cannibalism, and how the practice can be explained in a social context.
Update: A response to my Scientific American Guest Post has been posted over at Gambler’s House. The post compares and contrasts Haas’s work to archaeologist Steven LeBlanc’s research regarding warfare in the prehistoric southwest (and his very different conclusions about the origins of warfare in general). It also includes a particularly interesting discussion of the evidence for Kayenta Anasazi migration following the abandonment of the Kayenta region by the end of the 13th century. Check it out here.