Land fill

Pasatiempo - - Mixed Media -

Peo­ple tend to ig­nore geog­ra­phy when think­ing about the pre­his­tory of Santa Fe. Ar­chae­ol­o­gist Ja­son Shapiro means to cor­rect that in a free talk ti­tled “A Very Spe­cial Place: The Geog­ra­phy and Ar­chae­ol­ogy of Santa Fe.” It takes place at 3 p.m. Tues­day, Feb. 8, in the Board­room at the School for Ad­vanced Re­search (660 Gar­cia St., 954-7200).

Be­cause of geog­ra­phy, the Santa Fe area was “quite op­ti­mal for hu­man sur­vival for a long time,” Shapiro said. The nearby moun­tains and prox­im­ity to the great plains, the basin-an­drange coun­try, and the Colorado Plateau en­sured ac­cess to a wide va­ri­ety of plants and an­i­mals that could be used for food, cloth­ing, and shel­ter. The moun­tains also of­fered pro­tec­tion from the worst storms, and the Santa Fe River pro­vided wa­ter.

What the moun­tains did not pro­vide was good soils for gar­den­ing. “The San­gres are ba­si­cally granitic; and when gran­ite, feldspar, and quartz weather out, they don’t cre­ate rich al­lu­vial soils like you get with the min­eral-rich vol­canic rocks in the Je­mez and Pa­jar­ito and La Ba­jada ar­eas,” Shapiro said.

“The Ar­chaic Pe­riod lasted an aw­fully long time in Santa Fe, prob­a­bly to A.D. 600. By that time, most ev­ery­one else in the South­west was grow­ing corn, but here peo­ple were still do­ing well hunt­ing and for­ag­ing.”

Keep­ing up on his field work: Ja­son Shapiro

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