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Anasazi culture

Anasazi culture

Anasazi culture: see Basket Makers; cliff dwellers; Pueblo.
also called Anasazi

The Cliff Palace, which has 150 rooms, 23 kivas, and several towers, at Mesa Verde National Park in elipsis

North American Indian civilization that developed from circa AD 100 to 1600, centring on the area where the present-day boundaries of the U.S. states of Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah intersect. Ancestral Pueblo is the term most commonly used to refer to the ancestors of contemporary Pueblo Indian peoples. Anasazi is the Navajo word for “Ancient Enemy”; the Hopi prefer the term Hisatsinom, meaning “Ancient People.” Ancestral Pueblo civilization is customarily divided into several periods: Late Basketmaker II (AD 100–500), Basketmaker III (500–750), Pueblo I (750–950), Pueblo II (950–1150), Pueblo III (1150–1300), and Pueblo IV (1300–1600). Evidence for a postulated Basketmaker I stage has not been found. As among present-day Pueblo peoples, religion in the Ancestral Pueblo culture was highly developed and centred on rites partly conducted in underground circular chambers called kivas. The best-known Ancestral Pueblo ruins are the cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde (Colo.) and Chaco Canyon (N.M.).

Learn more about Ancestral Pueblo culture with a free trial on Britannica.com.

The Fremont culture or Fremont people is a pre-Columbian archaeological culture which received its name from the Fremont River in the U.S. state of Utah where the first Fremont sites were discovered. The Fremont River itself is named for John Charles Frémont, an American explorer. It inhabited sites in what is now Utah and parts of Nevada, Idaho and Colorado from AD 700 to 1300. It was adjacent to, roughly contemporaneous with, but distinctly different from the Anasazi culture.

Fremont Indian State Park in the Clear Creek Canyon area in south-central Utah contains the biggest Fremont culture site in Utah. A recent, major discovery of a new site at Range Creek, Utah, has drawn a great deal of interest because it has stayed undisturbed for centuries. Nearby Nine Mile Canyon has long been known for its large collection of Fremont rock art. Other sites are found in Dinosaur National Monument, Zion National Park and Arches National Park.

While there is as yet no firm consensus as to the Fremont comprising a single, cohesive group with a common language, ancestry or lifeway, there are several aspects of their material culture that give credence to this notion. First, it is well known by researchers that those referred to as the Fremont lived a lifestyle that revolved largely around hunting and gathering and corn horticulture, in other words a continuum of fairly reliable subsistence strategies that no doubt varied from place to place and time to time. This shows up in the archaeological record at most village sites and long term camps as a collection of butchered, cooked and then discarded bone from mostly deer and rabbits, charred corn cobs with the kernels removed, and wild edible plant remains. Other unifying characteristics include the manufacture of relatively expedient gray ware pottery and a signature style of basketry and rock art. Most of the Fremont lived in small single and extended family units comprising villages ranging from two to a dozen pithouse structures, with only a few having been occupied at any one time. Still, exceptions to this rule exist (partly why the Fremont have earned a reputation for being so hard to define), including an unusually large village in the Parowan Valley of southwestern Utah, the large and extensively excavated village of Five Finger Ridge at the above mentioned Fremont Indian State Park, and others, all appearing to be anomalous in that they were either occupied for a long period of time, were simultaneously occupied by a large number of people, sixty or more at any given moment, or both.

Recent developments

The Range Creek Canyon site complex is unambiguously identified with the Fremont culture, and because of its astonishingly pristine state, promises to bring an immense amount of insight to this hitherto obscure archaeological culture.

References

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