The Black Mountain phase occupation at Old Town : an examination of social and technological organization in the Mimbres Valley of southwestern New Mexico, ca. A.D 1150 - 1300
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The Black Mountain phase of the Mimbres Mogollon cultural tradition, dating from around A.D. 1150 through A.D. 1300, is perhaps the most poorly understood time period of the entire Mimbres sequence. During that time, people inhabiting the Mimbres Valley of southwestern New Mexico adopted new ceramic sequences, ceased producing Black-on-white pottery, adopted new architectural styles, and possibly changed mortuary patterns. These changes have been interpreted in a multitude of ways that can be reduced to models of continuity and discontinuity. Unfortunately, these models and interpretations rest on a very limited set of data that comes largely from three moderately tested Black Mountain phase sites in the Mimbres Valley proper: Montoya, Old Town, and Walsh. Thus, arguments for or against either model based on the presence of absence of particular traits are necessarily limited by the modest data from these three sites. It was in this context of opposing interpretations that other aspects of the life ways of Black Mountain phase peoples were analyzed. Specifically, I look at the ways lithic and ceramic technologies were organized to assess if the changes that occurred during the Black Mountain phase also represent changes in the ways social systems were organized. I believe that while certain aspects of material culture such as shifts in ceramic or architectural style are easily changed whereas the social mechanisms responsible for their production are more resistant. The results of these analyses demonstrate that there are more similarities than differences with respect to the manner in which technologies were organized during the time periods traditionally accepted as representing “Mimbres” manifestations and the Black Mountain phase. Thus, the social mechanisms dictating the processes of production, distribution, transmission, and reproduction appear to be similar from the Pithouse periods through the Black Mountain phase. This research adds to the growing body of evidence that suggests continuity between the Classic period inhabitants of the Mimbres area and later Black Mountain phase peoples.