Quantifying Household Inequality in Early Pueblo Villages
Kohler, Timothy A.
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The rapid rise of the “Chaco phenomenon” in northern New Mexico in the ninth century AD invites a search for either historical precursors or generative processes that might have explanatory utility. We analyze one candidate system, the well-known Basketmaker III and Pueblo I communities investigated by the Dolores Archaeological Program in southwestern Colorado, to determine whether there is evidence of change through time in the direction of more inequality of households. We use the Gini index to quantify concentration in the distributions of living space, storage space, and total household space. We see no prominent trend toward increasing inequality in these data, but we do note possible evidence for leveling, in that inequality in an “income” measure is higher than in a “total wealth” measure. These leveling processes seem to be stronger for households in villages than for those in dispersed settings. Comparably produced Gini coefficients for other ancient settings would greatly enhance the comparative search for the causes of higher levels of household inequality frequently manifested in agricultural societies.