Ancient Puebloan Southwest traces the evolution of Puebloan society in the American Southwest from the emergence of the Chaco and Mimbres traditions in the AD 1000s through the early decades of contact with the Spanish in the sixteenth century. The 2004 book focuses on the social and political changes that shaped Puebloan people over the centuries, emphasizing how factors internal to society impacted on cultural evolution, even in the face of the challenging environment that characterizes the American Southwest. The underlying argument is that while the physical environment both provides opportunities and sets limitations to social and political change, even more important evolutionary forces are the tensions between co-operation and competition for status and leadership. Although relying primarily on archaeological data, the book also includes oral histories, historical accounts, and ethgraphic records as it introduces readers to the deep history of the Puebloan Southwest.
John Kantner is the Vice President for Academic and Institutional Advancement at the School for Advanced Research and formerly an Associate Professor of Anthropology at Georgia State University. A native of New Mexico, he earned his BA from Colorado College and his Ph.D. from the University of California, Santa Barbara. His early research was on Spanish Colonial ethnohistory of the Southwest, and he has also conducted archaeological investigations in Costa Rica, the US Plains, and the US Rocky Mountains. Over the past several years, Dr Kantner's research has focused on the archaeology of the prehistoric Southwestern United States, with a particular interest in the development of sociopolitical complexity of the Chaco Anasazi. Dr Kantner currently directs the Lobo Mesa Archaeological Project, which focuses on prehistoric Anasazi groups who inhabited the Red Mesa Valley of northwestern New Mexico between AD 850 and 1200. The goal of this research is to identify the processes by which complex social and political regional institutions emerge from communities of comparatively simple horticulturists. Principles of human behavioral ecology and evolutionary theory provide the theoretical foundation for these investigations, while the analysis of prehistoric ceramics and regional spatial patterning provides the methodologies needed to interpret the archaeological remains. Publications by Dr Kantner can be found in Human Nature, the Journal of Anthropological Archaeology, the Journal of Archaeological Research and Historical Archaeology, and he coedited the 2000 book Great House Communities Across the Chacoan Landscape, published by the University of Arizona Press. Dr Kantner also continues his explorations of the use of new media both for enhancing public education and facilitating professional interaction.