Reviews of A Space Syntax Analysis of Arroyo Hondo Pueblo, New Mexico: Community Formation in the Northern Rio Grande
Book News, Inc.
2006 A Space Syntax Analysis of Arroyo Hondo Pueblo, New Mexico; Community Formation in the Northern Rio Grande. Electronic document, http://www.thefreelibrary.com/A+space+syntax+analysis+of+Arroyo+Hondo+Pueblo+New+Mexico%3B+community...-a0141643106, accessed October 5, 2013.
By assuming that built space indicates social organization, Shapiro shows that changes in architecture over time could reveal how social interactions, where people worked and where they stored food changed. Specifically, his analysis revealed that families increasingly sought greater privacy, a situation mirrored in modern times. Interesting photographs and illustrations accompany this report.
Ferguson, T. J.
2007 Review of A Space Syntax Analysis of Arroyo Hondo Pueblo, New Mexico: Community Formation in the Northern Rio Grande, by Jason S. Shapiro. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 13(2): 485-486.
Although this monograph covers one site in the U.S. Southwest, it should be of interest to all archaeologists exploring how architecture structures social interaction. This book is clearly written, its data presentation logical, and it includes necessary background information in Southwestern archaeology. Arroyo Hondo was a large 14th century pueblo in the northern Rio Grande Valley of New Mexico with a large early component (1300 -1345 A.D.) and a later smaller component (1370-1425 A.D.). As part of SAR, Douglas Schwartz began excavations at the pueblo in 1970. Since then, a series of scholars have published books and journal articles on various topics pertaining to this program. This 9th volume in the series uses a space syntax approach (a means of quantifying connectivity and permeability within buildings and settlements) to measure how architectural space constrained or aided social interaction. Although the second occupation was smaller than the first, both involved large roomblocks arranged around multiple plazas. Shapiro uses his analysis to argue that there was a shift towards spatial segregation and greater privacy over time at Arroyo Hondo. By including room function as a variable, Shapiro was also able to argue that individual food storage also increased. He relates this to environmental changes that increased competition for dwindling resources in the late 14th century.
2006 Review of A Space Syntax Analysis of Arroyo Hondo Pueblo, New Mexico: Community Formation in the Northern Rio Grande, by Jason S. Shapiro. Journal of Anthropological Research 62(4): 573-574.
Architecture has long informed archaeological inferences about social organization, yet the development of explicit methodologies for studying architecture has lagged behind the study of, for example, ceramics and lithics. Shapiro fills this gap in the already impressive Arroyo Hondo series. Via space syntax analysis, Shapiro argues that, by the start of the Classic Period, a new mode of social organization had emerged. It was one in which households became more private, storage facilities more hidden, and plazas the only area for public social encounters. Shapiro’s second argument is that space syntax analysis is a valid approach for understanding archaeological architectural remains. This may be optimistic because the deteriorated state of archaeological remains means that the positions and state (i.e., sealed or unsealed) of many links between spaces (doors) must be crudely guessed or ignored. Another problem is that such a methodology ignores “imagined” or immaterial cultural walls. For instance, the pueblo’s plaza kivas were very physically accessible, but totally inaccessible socially. In sum, Shapiro’s arguments are reasoned and insightful, although his methodology is, by design, reductionist.
2010 Review of A Space Syntax Analysis of Arroyo Hondo Pueblo, New Mexico: Community Formation in the Northern Rio Grande, by Jason S. Shapiro. Kiva 75(3): 1-3.
Shapiro’s space syntax analysis is the ninth volume in SAR’s Arroyo Hondo Archaeological Series. Shapiro’s study is novel for its reexamination of a previously excavated site. He uses Hillier’s and Hanson’s quantitative analytical space syntax analysis approach to infer organizational change from architectural change. Shapiro provides a clear overview of his complicated methodology. Arroyo Hondo is well suited for space syntax analysis because of its extensive excavation and clear absolute dates that shed light on the chronology of architectural construction there. His analysis suggests that, first, there was a shift over time from an emphasis on the extended family to one on the nuclear family as illustrated by a greater capacity for separation and privacy; second, plazas were intended as primary public integrating spaces; and, third, food storage areas became less accessible, suggesting the increased importance of private food storage. Similar patterns were also observed at nearby pueblos such as Tijeras. Shapiro refrains from selecting one explanation for this phenomenon, but suggests that it may be a result of the adoption of the new katsina cult. In sum, this is an excellent and illuminating study with clear writing, skillful illustrations, and abundant maps and graphs. The book could have been improved by updating the bibliography with more recent publications and by tying in findings from ceramics, faunal remains, mortuary remains, etc., rather than simply focusing on architecture. Nevertheless, this book should be in the library of any student of the prehistoric Southwest.
Publications: New Archaeological Books and Journals
2005 Journal of Field Archaeology 30(4): 468.
Using the theoretical and mathematical space syntax analysis approach to examine changing social organization at Arroyo Hondo Pueblo, Shapiro found a pattern of increasing segmentation and privacy both there and at other contemporary pueblos. This was due to, perhaps, increased population growth aided by immigration. Shapiro gives an overview of space syntax analysis and the appendix contains all of his raw data.
Reed, P. F.
2007 Review of A Space Syntax Analysis of Arroyo Hondo Pueblo, New Mexico: Community formation in the Northern Rio Grande, by Jason S. Shapiro. New Mexico Historical Review 82(3): 408-410.
Shapiro’s application of space syntax methodology has brought new life to the study of archaeology in the northern Rio Grande. His work focused on Arroyo Hondo, a large site excavated by SAR in the 1970s. Complementing Creamer’s earlier architectural considerations, Shapiro has increased knowledge of the site, but, at the same time, his work did not lead to any original or radical conclusions on Puebloan social organization. In sum, Shapiro links the open plazas and spatially segregated roomblocks to a need for integration on the part of kin-based Pueblo social groups newly arrived in the northern Rio Grande from the greater Four Corners region. His book’s explanatory power would have been higher had he better linked his findings to concomitant changes in Pueblo ritual and social organization also occurring in the 14th century. Nevertheless, his book is an important contribution recommended for both students and researchers of Southwestern history.
Wilcox, David R.
2006 Review of A Space Syntax Analysis of Arroyo Hondo Pueblo, New Mexico: Community Formation in the Northern Rio Grande, by Jason S. Shapiro. Journal of Field Archaeology 31: 228-229.
The large Arroyo Hondo site is just one of many pueblos to suddenly appear in the northern Rio Grande region only to depopulate a generation or two later. About 40 years later, though, a small pueblo was built on the remains of the first component, but this too was abandoned after only two generations. Why did these pueblos dating to the early 14th century disappear while large pueblos founded a century later last for centuries? Shapiro’s book, the ninth in SAR’s Arroyo Hondo series, reexamines existing records from a new perspective. The author uses space syntax analysis to parse the social meanings of doorway-access patterns in architectural space. In fact, he makes a good case for its further application to archaeology. Using schematic plans, box plots, and complex formulas, Shapiro found that there was a pattern over time towards increasing segregation and privacy for roomblocks and storage areas and, at the same time, an increased focus on plazas as integrative areas where all activities could be seen and controlled. Indeed, kivas moved from interior spaces to plazas where social, rather than physical, control kept most people out. Appendices analyze contemporaneous pueblos like Tijeras, Puye, and Acoma to illustrate that the same changes were happening elsewhere. Neglected, however, is Kidder’s similar study at Pecos Pueblo. In sum, though, Shapiro’s book is warmly recommended.
2008 Review of Jason S. Shapiro’s 2005 A Space Syntax Analysis of Arroyo Hondo Pueblo, New Mexico: Community Formation in the Northern Rio Grande. Electronic document, http://wings.buffalo.edu/ARD/cgi/showme.cgi?keycode=3256, accessed September 20, 2013.
Although developed with modern architecture in mind, space syntax analysis is increasingly being applied to archaeological sites as well. This ninth volume in SAR’s Arroyo Hondo series focused on the aforementioned pueblo because it was an excellent candidate for such an approach: there were clear records of its extensive excavation and only two relatively quick occupations had taken place there. Shapiro wisely includes a primer on space syntax analysis to fully acquaint the reader before diving into the analysis proper. There are, however, unfortunate errors in the equations and descriptions of the alpha index. Shapiro’s analysis suggested the following: first, there was a shift over time towards greater segregation and privacy for roomblocks and storage areas (including ceremonial storage areas) and, second, there was an increased emphasis on plazas as integrating areas. Shapiro found similar trends at contemporary pueblos and reasoned that this was a response to increased population stemming from immigration. Shapiro’s selection of Acoma for a currently occupied pueblo example, rather than a nearby pueblo such as Taos, weakens his overall argument. Overall, though, this book is both a valuable contribution to Southwestern archaeologists and a successful argument for the further use of space syntax methodology in archaeology.