Maize played a major role in Chaco's interaction with outlying communities in the southern Colorado Plateau. This paper seeks to determine where archaeological corn cobs brought to Chaco Canyon were grown. Strontium-isotope and trace-metal ratios of 180 soil-water and 18 surface-water sites in the Southern Colorado Plateau have revealed possible source areas for some of 37 archaeological corn cobs from Chaco Canyon and 10 archaeological corn cobs from Aztec Ruin, New Mexico. The most probable source areas for cobs that predate the middle-12th-century drought include several Upper Rio Chaco sites (not including Chaco Canyon). There are many potential source areas for cobs that date to the late A.D. 1100s and early 1200s, all of which lie in the eastern part of the study area. Some Athapascan-age cobs have potential source areas in the Totah, Lobo Mesa, and Dinetah regions. One Gallo Cliff Dwelling cob has a strontium-isotope ratio that exceeds all measured soil-water values. Field sites for this cob may exist in association with Paleozoic and Precambrian rocks found 80-90 km from Chaco Canyon. Potential source areas for most Aztec Ruin cobs (many of which were found in rooms dating to the first half of the 13th-century) appear to be associated with a loess deposit that blankets the Mesa Verde and McElmo Dome regions.
Additional publication details
Possible sources of archaeological maize found in Chaco Canyon and Aztec Ruin, New Mexico