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Sedentism, Social Change, Warfare, and the Bow in the Ancient Pueblo Southwest


  • Paul F. Reed,

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    • Paul F. Reed is a Preservation Archaeologist with Archaeology Southwest (formerly the Center for Desert Archaeology) currently assigned as Chaco Scholar at Salmon Ruins Museum, New Mexico. Reed's research interests include ancient Puebloan community organization and social development and Chacoan economic and ritual organization. Email:

  • Phil R. Geib

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    • Phil Geib has worked as an archaeologist for 30 years, mostly on the Colorado Plateau in Utah and Arizona. His main research concerns preceramic foragers and farmers and various prehistoric technologies. Geib's dissertation research concerns conflict and warfare during the interval when domesticates were initially used in the North American Southwest. Email:


In the ancient American Southwest, use of the bow developed relatively rapidly among Pueblo people by the fifth century AD. This new technology replaced the millennia-old atlatl and dart weaponry system. Roughly 150 years later in the AD 600s, Pueblo socioeconomic organization began to evolve rapidly, as many groups adopted a much more sedentary life. Multiple factors converged to allow this sedentary pattern to emerge, but the role of the bow in this process has not been fully explored. In this paper, we trace the development of the bow and discuss its role as sedentism emerged and social changes occurred in ancient Puebloan society from the fifth through seventh centuries AD.

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