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

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  • W Bustard
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    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.

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    Article provided by Pion Ltd, London in its journal Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design.

    Volume (Year): 26 (1999)
    Issue (Month): 2 (March)
    Pages: 219-240

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    Handle: RePEc:pio:envirb:v:26:y:1999:i:2:p:219-240
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