Hungry Pueblo People of Ancient Chaco Canyon

The Pueblo people of Ancient Chaco Canyon in New Mexico faced some very serious problems when their population grew too large for the available resources in the canyon. At one point between 850 and 1250 C.E. the population was estimated to have reached in the thousands. Recent studies have shown the canyon environment could not support this number.

Researchers at Chaco Canyon have carried out a detailed analysis of the climate and hydrology of the Chaco area and have found that its soil could not support the farming necessary to feed large populations. Dryland farming is impossible there due to lack of rainfall. Flash floods were also a constant source of destruction. Chacoans could only have farmed 100 acres and could not have grown enough corn for over 1000 people. Deer and rabbits and small game would have been cleared out completely with 2,300 people to feed.

Importing food to feed 2,300 people from outside of the canyon would have required porters to make 18,000 trips annually. So, either Chacoans would have had to do this, or perhaps the structures in Chaco were only inhabited at times of pilgrimages from outside the canyon.

Source: Food may have been scarce in Chaco Canyon

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