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Recognizing People in the Prehistoric Southwest

Recognizing People in the Prehistoric Southwest by Jill E. Neitzel

Reviewed by L. Bennett

Most of us think of the prehistoric population of the American Southwest as farmers living in cliff dwellings and making lovely pottery. That is a limited perspective, of course, but useful in marketing tourist attractions. But authors Jill Neitzel, Ann Stodder, Laurie Webster, and Jane Hill offer us a bigger view with more complexity. Recognizing People presents the reader with the diversity of body stature, clothing styles, and body decoration in a way that few interpretive signs bother to reveal. They discuss hair styles and language as well, painting a picture of social differences that range from subtle to obvious and that differed according to age, gender, status, and religion. They tie this diversity together by presenting the variation and similarities as seen by a hypothetical traveler wandering through the prehistoric Southwest. What the person sees and how the visual messages are interpreted is an eyeful. This was a fascinating perspective, much fuller than pottery styles and sandstone rock houses.

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