Agricultural Adaptations in Light of Socioeconomic Changes in the Northern Rio Grande

University of Colorado Boulder archaeology PhD candidate Kaitlyn Davis’s dissertation project investigates how (and to what extent) Pueblo people in the Rio Grande region of New Mexico adjusted their agricultural practices when confronted with Spanish colonization. Her work consists of 1) developing agricultural potential models to identify where the optimal growing areas likely were, 2) surveying the areas around multiple pre-contact and contact era Pueblos to document agricultural features and any changes in those features or technologies with colonization, and 3) analyzing sediment samples to determine the types and density of plants grown in the fields.

In this presentation, Davis will share the results of the survey work of the agricultural areas around two pre-contact villages (Poshuouinge and Pueblo Blanco) and two contact-era villages (Cuyamungue and San Marcos). Over one-hundred agricultural features were documented on the survey. These features ranged from Pueblo irrigation ditches in and slightly above the floodplain to raised gravel mulch fields on upland ridges above the villages. Analyzing the changes in the location, type, size, and density of these features before and following contact enable a better understanding of Pueblo agricultural adaptations over time and the extent to which Spanish plants, animals, and agricultural methods were incorporated into Pueblo agriculture. She will also share some preliminary observations from the pollen and phytolith analyses.


Kaitlyn Davis is a Registered Professional Archaeologist and doctoral candidate in archaeology at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Her advisor is Dr. Scott Ortman. Kaitlyn is interested in interaction processes and changes in land use over time in the Pueblo Southwest. She has a master’s in anthropology (archaeology) from the University of Colorado and a bachelors in anthropology and environmental science from the University of Notre Dame. Currently, she is employed as a Cultural and Heritage Park Steward for Region 2 of Montana State Parks.