Tijeras Canyon, between the eastern New Mexico plains and the Rio Grande Valley, is rich in records of the past. Possibly as early as 900 AD and intermittently for centuries after, peoples of the Southwest, attracted by the protected resources of the canyon, established settlements and villages there. Archaeological study of the canyon can be based on these population changes: patterns of growth, adaptation, and abandonment.
Tijeras Canyon: Analyses of the Past is the result of extensive archaeological study of the canyon conducted by the University of New Mexico summer field school of archaeology and the Laboratory of Anthropology of the Museum of New Mexico. Research sites, close to public roads near Albuquerque, drew many observers. It was apparent to Cordell and her colleagues that laymen who observe such excavations see only a portion of the archaeologist's work--which is really complete only after evaluation and analysis of data. This book of essays was compiled to explain the unseen portion of archaeology: analysis, including the weighing of evidence and exploring of alternatives that lead to a final interpretation. To understand human adaptation, plants, animals, and climate must be studied and analyzed in detail. Each analytic chapter proceeds in the same way that the archaeologist's work does, in order to give the reader maximum opportunity to learn, analyze, and interpret along with the professional archaeologist.