Transformation of social networks in the late pre-Hispanic US Southwest.


The late pre-Hispanic period in the US Southwest (A.D. 1200-1450) was characterized by large-scale demographic changes, including long-distance migration and population aggregation. To reconstruct how these processes reshaped social networks, we compiled a comprehensive artifact database from major sites dating to this interval in the western Southwest. We combine social network analysis with geographic information systems approaches to reconstruct network dynamics over 250 y. We show how social networks were transformed across the region at previously undocumented spatial, temporal, and social scales. Using well-dated decorated ceramics, we track changes in network topology at 50-y intervals to show a dramatic shift in network density and settlement centrality from the northern to the southern Southwest after A.D. 1300. Both obsidian sourcing and ceramic data demonstrate that long-distance network relationships also shifted from north to south after migration. Surprisingly, social distance does not always correlate with spatial distance because of the presence of network relationships spanning long geographic distances. Our research shows how a large network in the southern Southwest grew and then collapsed, whereas networks became more fragmented in the northern Southwest but persisted. The study also illustrates how formal social network analysis may be applied to large-scale databases of material culture to illustrate multigenerational changes in network structure.

DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1219966110

Cite this paper

@article{Mills2013TransformationOS, title={Transformation of social networks in the late pre-Hispanic US Southwest.}, author={Barbara J. Mills and Jeffery J. Clark and Matthew A. Peeples and Wm. Randall Haas and John Michael Roberts and James B. Hill and Deborah L Huntley and Lewis Borck and Ronald L. Breiger and A. Clauset and M. Steven Shackley}, journal={Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America}, year={2013}, volume={110 15}, pages={5785-90} }