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Amerind Free Online Lecture: Creatures and Cosmology of the Casas Grandes World with Christine VanPool, PhD and Todd VanPool, PhD

Amerind Free Online Lecture

Creatures and Cosmology of the Casas Grandes World

with Christine VanPool, PhD and Todd VanPool, PhD

Saturday, February 18, 2023, 11:00 am – Arizona Time

The interactions among humans, plants, animals and the landscape are central to cultures around the world. This is especially true for cultures with animistic worldviews in which aspects of the natural environment have spiritual as well as ecological significance. Within these cultures humans are active agents that treat aspects of the environment as active agents as well. Lightning as a sentient being can punish the wicked or unwise. Bear (a powerful spirit being among many New World Native Americans) can cause or cure illness. Peyote and other entheogens are animate beings that can provide visions and spiritually transform the initiated. The Medio period Casas Grandes culture (AD 1200 to 1450) focused in northern Chihuahua and southernmost New Mexico reflects important relationships among various animals and humans that transcend simple subsistence roles. Snakes, birds (especially macaws and turkeys), turtles, and other animals were significant in Casas Grandes social life, cosmology, and symbolism. Here we provide case studies reflecting the social, cosmological, and spiritual significance of various animals as reflected on pottery, groundstone, and architectural features derived from Paquimé (the political and ceremonial center of much of the Casas Grandes region) and the surrounding settlements.

Christine S. VanPool grew up in Ruidoso, New Mexico. She earned her B.S. in anthropology at Eastern New Mexico University and her M.A. and Ph.D. at the University of New Mexico.  In 2006 she joined the anthropology faculty at the University of Missouri, Columbia. Over the last 20 years, her main research focus has been on archaeological method and theory as it pertains to religion and pottery symbolism in the Casas Grandes world.  Since 2007 she has been co-directing museum and field projects with Todd L. VanPool in Northern Mexico and southern Arizona and New Mexico.  She is the author or editor of five books and numerous articles.

Dr. Todd VanPool earned his BA in religion and in anthropology at Eastern New Mexico University and his MA and PhD in anthropology from the University of New Mexico. He is a Professor of Anthropology at the University of Missouri—Columbia. Todd studies the evolution and cognitive structure of religion and its relationship to pilgrimages, social status, economic organization, and cultural stability and change. His research has focused on the archaeology of the ancient North American Southwest, especially the late prehistoric occupation of the Casas Grandes region of Chihuahua, Mexico, and southernmost New Mexico. With Gordon Rakita (University of North Florida) and his wife and colleague, Christine VanPool, he has conducted fieldwork at 76 Draw, a Casas Grandes settlement near Deming, New Mexico since 2009. Reoccurring themes in his research include gender and the organization of craft production, especially as it is reflected in stone artifact production and consumption. An emerging focus of his research is cross-cultural patterns in the use of trance-based religious experiences. Along with Christine VanPool, he is exploring how trance can be initiated with and without entheogens such as tobacco, peyote, ayahuasca, and datura. His publications include over 60 peer-reviewed articles and books including “Bringing the Inert to Life: The Activation of Animate Being” (2023, Religions and Social Interaction, Social Status, and the Organization of Medio Period Craft Production  (2017, Lithic Technology, which relate to this presentation.

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Feb 18 2023


11:00 am - 12:00 pm



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