Scott Van Keuren and William H. Walker

in The Oxford Handbook of Southwest Archaeology

Published in print October 2017 | ISBN: 9780199978427
Published online September 2017 | e-ISBN: 9780190669942 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks


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This chapter explores how the lives of ancient peoples in the Southwest were guided by their engagement with spirit worlds. From artifacts to architecture, the material record reflects visions of the universe, mythological narratives, and otherworldly entities. As archaeology has turned its attention to ancient religion and ritual, Southwest scholars are expanding their interpretations of these central dimensions of ancient ecologies. This theoretical turn reflects broader changes in the field as well as collaborations with descendant communities. The chapter builds on contemporary theory as well as classic ethnographies to show how spirit worlds may have been engaged and materialized in the ancient Southwest.

Keywords: Southwest; religion; ritual; spirit; ethnography

Article.  8918 words. 

Subjects: North American Archaeology ; Archaeology

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