This essay grapples with the conceptualization of several key terms that are necessary for our understanding of the regional presence of Chaco. Following a consideration of the notion of Chaco, comments are focused on: (1) Chacoan architectural complexes; (2) great house function; (3) settlement clusters and Chacoan communities; and (4) the regional integration of Chaco. Key variables that have been proposed as relevant to the identification of Chacoan communities are examined in some detail and appeals are made to clarify the usage of several terms, including great house, Chaco era, and community. It is argued that an understanding of the archaeological manifestations of Chaco outside Chaco Canyon will require much more systematic survey at a spatial scale sufficient to detect multiple levels of settlement clustering and that more detailed studies of the interactions among Chacoan architectural complexes and their associated residential settlements will provide key insights into the nature of what Ruth Van Dyke calls the “Chaco experience.”.
ASJC Scopus subject areas