From US-NM:Puebloan Rebels of the Southwest:
“In the Gallina culture region of the American Southwest, ‘it’s not about what we find, it’s about what we find out’.” The folks who lived in this area invested most of their labor in grand social, political, and economic experiments and seemed to have cared more about the value of the community and of their labor and less about the value of things in the same way that we do nowadays.
So for us, our cool find from 2019 was not a thing, it was a thing these folks did. During pedestrian survey, we ran across some agricultural oddities that conventional archaeological histories said shouldn’t exist at this time period and at the scale we found them – Grid gardens! While these may seem particularly unexciting on the surface, grid gardens are sophisticated examples of permaculture terraforming. They’re essentially greenhouses without the glass and framing.
The folks who made these gardens 700 to 900 years ago had an advanced understanding of the complex interactions between geological processes, environmental variations, and agricultural needs. The highland environments of the American Southwest often required a trade-off where lower elevations allowed for a longer, frost-free growing season with minimal water and higher elevations allowed for a shorter, frost-free growing season with more water. So you either could get enough time to grow your crop or enough water. Ancient farmers, really scientists, developed grid gardens as a way to sustainably modify their landscape. The rocks store enough solar energy to increase the ambient temperature of the fields and increase the number of frost-free days while also increasing the amount of moisture in the soil by decreasing how much of it evaporates. So, our coolest find for 2019 was the presence of grid gardens, earlier than generally expected in this region, that demonstrate ancient experimentation and agricultural technological advances.”
-Dr. Lewis Borck, Anthropology at New Mexico Highlands University, Director at New Mexico: Puebloan Rebels of the Southwest