The 'fluffy fringe' of archaeology

  I must complain about the article "What Happened To The Anasazi?" (HCN, 10/3/05: Out of the Four Corners) on two points. The first point is that the subject matter hardly qualifies as news. No great, truly new discoveries were reported, nor was any compelling, new explanation for the "mystery" of the Anasazis’ abandonment of these sites given.

Second, the way Susan Ryan’s work is portrayed in this article borders on the lunatic fringe of archaeology, which seems to have a much larger, fluffier fringe than a lot of other sciences. The "emotional map" in her head, "the snakes" and the other new-age-type fluff attributed to Ryan is as close to "going native" as it gets in the world of archaeology.

Just because sites are ritually vacated in what would appear to be a non-emergency manner (a fact hardly anyone disputes) does not mean that there wasn’t an overriding environmental cause for the mass exodus. Agriculture-based civilizations that over-shoot their resources and then collapse due to the ensuing social disruptions, often coupled with drought, is a scenario repeated throughout the world in the archaeological record.

Terri Miner
Rock Springs, Wyoming

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