Dicke, Robert J. (ed.) / Transactions of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters
volume XLIV (1955)
McCabe, Robert A.
The prehistoric engineer-farmers of Chihuahua, pp. 75-90 PDF (6.1 MB)
75THE PREHISTORIC ENGINEER-FARMERS OF CHIHUAHUA ROBERT A. MCCABE' Some time in the Sixteenth Century one of the Spanish explorers traveling through Chihuahua in northern Mexico came upon a series of ruined buildings and terraces of stone. Then as now they stand deserted in the eastern foothills of the Sierra Madre Occidental. It may have been Alvar Nuflez Cabeza de Vaca,2 or Iberra, who perhaps saw the ruins in the period between 1535 and 1565 and called them Casas Grandes or "large houses" and large they were indeed, for one measured 800 by 250 feet3 and was six stories high. Who performed the feats of primitive construction engineering, and why is not known. To the gold-seeking Spaniard this desolation at the Casas Grandes was one more bloodless defeat. How much too late were the conquerors and who were the people they had hoped to subjugate? The evidence, filtered through the minds of many historians and anthropologists, seems to indicate that the builders of the Casas Grandes in Chihuahua were of the same stock that built the Casas Grandes found in the Gila valley in Arizona and at Zuni in New Mexico. The three groups of gigantic adobes are similar in many respects. The one in Chihuahua appears to be the southernmost site for this kind of structure. The "town builders", as Wallace4 calls them, may have been the "Montezumas" who legends say emigrated southward from the fabled ' Associate Professor of Forestry and Wildlife Management, University of Wisconsin. I wish to acknowledge help in the preparation of this manuscript from the following: A. Starker Leopold for encouragement and advice; Marie S. McCabe, Margaret B. Hickey, F. N. and Frances Hamerstrom for editorial criticism; J. J. Hickey, A. W. Schorger and R. S. Ellarson for constructive comments; and Patricia Murrish for patiently typing several drafts of the manuscript. 2 Carl 0. Sauer states: "There is no evidence that they [Alvar Nuiiez Cabeza de Vaca's party] crossed the Sierra Madre of Chihuahua p. 16. "The Road to Cibola." Ibero—Americana: 3, Univ. Calif. Press, Berkeley, 1932. Bandelier's translation, however, has a frontispiece map suggesting that such had happened. The route shown indicates that Cabeza de Vaca's group passed through northern Chihuahua. Fanny R. Bandelier. The Journey of Alvar Nude~ Cabe~a de Vaca and his cornpaivions, from Florida to the Pacific 1528—1536. A. S. Barnes & Co., 1905. pp. 231. 3John Russell Bartlett. Personal Narrative of Explorations and Incidents in Texas, New Mexico, California, Sonora and Chihuahua. 1854. Vol. 2, D. Appleton and Co., New York, p. 350. 4 E. Wallace. The Land of the Pueblos. John B. Alden Publisher, New York, 1888, pp. 285.
This material may be protected by copyright law (e.g., Title 17, US Code).| For information on re-use, see http://digital.library.wisc.edu/1711.dl/Copyright