Fingerprint study upends ideas about 'women’s work' in ancient America
Archaeologists just assumed that women made the pottery at Chaco Canyon 1,000 years ago. Then they started thinking like cops—and things got interesting.
A question from a student with a law-enforcement background has sparked a new analysis of pottery from one of America’s most important ancient centers—and the results are turning archaeologists’ assumptions about “women’s work” on their head.
The Chaco Canyon communities of northwestern New Mexico were a center of significant cultural and religious activity from 800 to 1200 A.D. The Ancestral Puebloan people who lived in the region produced a type of pottery called “corrugated ware,” made by coiling thick ropes of clay on top of one another to form large vessels.
The general assumption has been that women in the Chaco region were responsible for making corrugated ware 1,000 years ago—an assumption based primarily on much more modern observation.
“Pueblo women today