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Basketmaker III

basketmaker_pithouse.pngBasketmaker pithouse; Illustrations by Joyce Heuman Kramer © Crow Canyon Archaeological Center

Basketmaker III is one of eight developmental periods that archaeologists created to classify the remains left by the ancestral Pueblo Indians of the Four Corners region. basketmaker_grayware.png In 1927 archaeologists met at Pecos Pueblo, just east of Santa Fe, New Mexico, to agree on traits and terminology for describing cultural change over time in the Southwest. Their meeting resulted in the Pecos Classification, with periods named Basketmaker I[1] – III and Pueblo I – V.

basketmaker_paintedpot.png The terms in the period names, Basketmaker and Pueblo, come from archaeological remains and stratigraphic evidence discovered during excavations at very well preserved cliff-alcove sites. Archaeological remains left by people who had no pottery were found at the deepest (and therefore oldest) levels excavated in the cliff-alcove sites. Archaeologists gave them the name Basketmaker because beautiful baskets were the most notable artifacts left by these pre-pottery people.

The remains of pottery-making people were found above the pre-pottery remains. Archaeologists have found ample evidence that these people are the ancestors of today’s Pueblo Indians. Thus archaeologists assigned them the name Pueblo.

corn_bean_squash.png The Dillard site dates to the Basketmaker III period and is characterized by population growth and the introduction of a settled lifeway. Like their Basketmaker II ancestors, Basketmaker III people were farmers who grew corn and squash. However, they added a new crop, beans, to their fields. They lived in small villages and also are distinguished from the earlier Basketmaker II people by their gray and brown pottery (for cooking beans), gray pottery painted with black designs, bows and arrows, trough metates (used for grinding corn).

However, unlike the Pueblo I people who followed them, Basketmaker III people did not live in above-ground habitations; nor did they have white pottery painted with black designs, red ware pottery, or domesticated turkeys.

basketmaker_farmstead.pngMap of Basketmaker III farmstead (schematic); Illustration by Joyce Heuman Kramer © Crow Canyon Archaeological Center


[1] Basketmaker I is the name reserved for a postulated group of pre-agricultural people. The Basketmaker I name was never used. Instead, later archaeologists named these people “Archaic.”

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