IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Space, evolution, and function in the houses of Chaco Canyon


  • W Bustard


The prehistoric cultural landscape of Chaco Canyon is made up of monumental great houses and small houses. The Chaco Canyon architectural record has been extensively studied, yet the relationship between great and small houses remains a fundamental problem of Southwest archaeology. By using space syntax access analyses, I examine in this research the spatial organisation of great and small houses and compare the two structures in terms of form and function. Space syntax is used to analyse twenty small houses and eleven discrete room blocks from three great houses. Access graphs are constructed and used to generate syntactic data. These data are examined by: (1) exploratory data analyses to identify temporal patterning in spatial integration and control; (2) difference factor analyses; (3) the identification of spatial phenotypes; and (4) analyses of inequality or functional genotypes. Statistically significant differences among integration values for both small and great houses over time are demonstrated. Difference factor analyses identify a robust spatial structure for small houses. This strong structure is a result of differences in spatial integration between built space and built form, and between spatial functions. Great houses are found to have a much weaker spatial structure. The results of this research are used to evaluate the spatial implications of the currently proposed Chaco great house models. Syntactical analyses suggest that it is unlikely that any one model fits all the great houses. The small houses appear domestic in nature and organisation. However, there is also evidence that not all small houses are equal: functional specialisation may be present. Examining the social and spatial relationships of kivas and mealing bin rooms at both great and small houses seems a promising avenue for future inquiry.

Suggested Citation

  • W Bustard, 1999. "Space, evolution, and function in the houses of Chaco Canyon," Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 26(2), pages 219-240, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:pio:envirb:v:26:y:1999:i:2:p:219-240

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: abstract
    Download Restriction: Fulltext access restricted to subscribers, see for details

    File URL:
    File Function: main text
    Download Restriction: Fulltext access restricted to subscribers, see for details

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Sungil Ham & Hyunsoo Lee, 2016. "Topological Transitions in Collective Housing Units of South Korea," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 9(1), pages 1-16, December.

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:pio:envirb:v:26:y:1999:i:2:p:219-240. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Neil Hammond). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.