87Sr/86Sr sourcing of ponderosa pine used in Anasazi great house construction at Chaco Canyon, New Mexico

Amanda C. Reynolds, Julio L. Betancourt, Jay Quade, P. Jonathan Patchett, Jeffrey S. Dean, John Stein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Scopus citations


Previous analysis of 87Sr/86Sr ratios shows that 10th through 12th century Chaco Canyon was provisioned with plant materials that came from more than 75 km away. This includes (1) corn (Zea mays) grown on the eastern flanks of the Chuska Mountains and floodplain of the San Juan River to the west and north, and (2) spruce (Picea sp.) and fir (Abies sp.) beams from the crest of the Chuska and San Mateo Mountains to the west and south. Here, we extend 87Sr/86Sr analysis to ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) prevalent in the architectural timber at three of the Chacoan great houses (Pueblo Bonito, Chetro Ketl, Pueblo del Arroyo). Like the architectural spruce and fir, much of the ponderosa matches the 87Sr/86Sr ratios of living trees in the Chuska Mountains. Many of the architectural ponderosa, however, have similar ratios to living trees in the La Plata and San Juan Mountains to the north and Lobo Mesa/Hosta Butte to the south. There are no systematic patterns in spruce/fir or ponderosa provenance by great house or time, suggesting the use of stockpiles from a few preferred sources. The multiple and distant sources for food and timber, now based on hundreds of isotopic values from modern and archeological samples, confirm conventional wisdom about the geographic scope of the larger Chacoan system. The complexity of this procurement warns against simple generalizations based on just one species, a single class of botanical artifact, or a few isotopic values.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1061-1075
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2005


  • Architectural timber
  • Botanical
  • Chaco Canyon
  • Provenance
  • San Juan Basin
  • Southwestern U.S.A.
  • Strontium isotopes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology


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