Agricultural Soils of the Prehistoric Southwest: Known Unknowns
By Jon Sandor and Jeff Homburg
Jonathan Sandor and Jeff Homburg are soil scientists, and in Chapter 2 they address a very important component of the environment of agriculture—soils. Soils form the foundation of agriculture, including the diverse farming systems of the prehistoric Southwest. Yet many questions about soils remain unanswered. What natural soils were chosen for agriculture, and why? How were soils and landscapes deliberately altered and managed for agriculture? Can prehistoric soil productivity be estimated? How did prehistoric farming impact soil resources? Although some advances have been made in addressing these questions, there is much more to learn. Challenges to understanding include the sheer complexity of soils, landscapes, and agroecosystems; the methodological challenges of reconstructing past events and processes; and the limited research relative to other areas of environmental archaeology. Studies are needed on a host of soils-related questions about southwestern prehistoric agriculture. Their relevance to current arid lands agriculture is presented.