chapter  19
11 Pages

The Sociopolitical Structure of Prehistoric Southwestern Societies: Concluding Thoughts

WithKent G. Lightfoot, Steadman Upham

This conclusion presents some closing thoughts on the concepts covered in the preceding chapters of this book. The book describes organizational diversity among a broad range of societies dispersed over the deserts, mountains, and plateaus of northern Mexico, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Nevada. The traditional, egalitarian approach to the interpretation of Southwestern prehistory arose primarily from the past use of ethnographic analogy, a historical practice that eventually produced the current Composite Pueblo model. The history of archaeological inquiry in the New World shows that it is difficult for archaeologists to argue for decision-making hierarchies and complex political organizations, no matter what the characteristics of the archaeological record, if the ethnographic record chronicles groups with egalitarian sociopolitical organizations. The book explains the differential distribution of public architecture and certain classes of nonlocal goods at the large, central villages in the bimodal systems.