Fragile Patterns: The Archaeology of the Western Papaguería
Edited by Jeffrey H. Altschul and Adrianne G. Rankin
760 pp. / 7.00 x 9.00 / 2008
Price : $49.95
Fragile Patterns, a top pick for Southwest Book of the Year, focuses on the Western Papaguería. Situated within the hottest and driest portion of the Sonoran Desert in southwest Arizona and northwest Sonora, it has been viewed by many as a barren and formidable place, best avoided and unfit for exploration. Yet this region is characterized by a natural environment of stark, unparallelled beauty and a cultural history that is thus surprisingly rich and complex. The opening chapters of Fragile Patterns profile the pioneers of Southwest archaeology, professional and amateur, who braved this harsh environment and toiled for decades in near obscurity to document the region’s archaeology. Their personal and professional challenges and their sometimes idiosyncratic approaches and personalities are richly described by fellow archaeologists. In subsequent chapters, this land of fragile patterns—in which each step can leave its mark for millennia—is explored by a cadre of archaeologists, geoscientists, historians, land managers, and Native Americans, who convey their findings, their hopes, and their concerns about the Western Papaguería and its people. A new generation of archaeologists and geoscientists presents findings on farming in the desert; native plant use; reservoirs, pottery; regional cultures; rock art, geoglyphs, and rock cairns; and trade and travel. Fragile Patterns concludes by interweaving Tohono O’odham and Hia C-ed O’odam perspectives with those of archaeologists and land managers, providing a rare forum for the voice and passion of the people of the Papaguería.
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