Chaco Anasazi and their Environment

How Did The Anasazi Adapt To Their Environment

Around 100 A.D., the Anasazi lived on a high plateau in an area that is entirely different from the rest of the Southwest. Known as the Colorado Plateau, this huge mountainous region encompasses the U.S. Four Corners including the other parts of Arizona, Utah, New Mexico and Colorado.

Throughout their history of around 1000 years, the Anasazi learned to use and adapt their unique environment as well as the surrounding natural resources in order to live and survive. They also learned how to change their environment and develop technologies as means for survival.

Using Natural Resources

During the Basketmaker Period (1-750 A.D.), the early Anasazi built pit houses by digging shallow depressions (pits) in the ground. These pit houses are covered with a canopy of brush and mud.

The grasses were used to make baskets which functioned as storage and carrying containers. Some of these baskets were woven tight that allowed them to hold water.

Changing The Environment

In the beginning, the Anasazi farmed and raised corn, squash, and later beans on small plots of land. They applied the methods of dry farming and a bit of flood irrigation.

The Anasazi learned to settle down in one area upon the introduction of corn as a farming crop. They continued to hunt and gather wild plants and animals while waiting for the crops to be ready for harvest. For more than several hundred years, their agricultural skills reached an advanced level which allowed them to live and sustain themselves while living permanently in their villages.

Later, the Anasazi built larger villages that have more storage bins in order to accommodate the increased yields of corn. This increase indicates how the Anasazi were able to improve their farming methods. Moreover, they had successfully expanded their trading range.

In 500 A.D., the Anasazi cultivated beans which are the primary source of protein. Berries, yucca fruit, pinion nuts and wild game still made up the most part of their diet. To supplement their food source, the Anasazi cultivated certain crops such as squash and crops.

Developing Technologies

It was during the latter part of the Basketmakers Period when the Anasazi had made notable advances in technology. They made clay pottery, domesticated turkeys, used improved methods in farming such as flood irrigation, adopted the use of the bow and arrow, and stored food in storage bins.

The storage bins or containers became highly useful for keeping excess food. The Anasazi learned doing plain gray pottery and sometimes black on white pottery in order to create their storage bins.

Around 750 A.D., Chaco Canyon became inhabited by an elite group of Ancestral Puebloans. Between 800-1000 A.D., this group spread across every arable acre that made up the San Juan Basin. Within a period of 2 centuries, they built an elaborate trail and road system read more which allowed them to connect to the outlying villages. While they constructed more than 400 miles of mapped out road systems, there was no existing evidence that indicated their use of the wheel.

The Anasazi’s engineering skills can be seen in the construction of Pueblo Bonito, the most famous of the great houses in Chaco Canyon. It had 700 or more rooms, 37 family kivas, and 2 community kivas. Covering an area of more than 4 acres, it’s obvious that building Pueblo Bonito needed skillful architectural engineering skills that the Anasazi had become known for.

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