Ritual Performance: Ball Courts and Religious Interaction

Religion and ritual are often considered part of the ideological system that is outside the realm of technology and thus beyond the scope of archaeological consideration. The core belief of our model is that any behavior, ritualistic or otherwise, will involve material culture and thus can be explored with the performance- based life history approach. Walker (1995a, 1995b, 1996, 1998, 2001) has been successful in demonstrating that ritual behavior, like any human behavior, shapes the life histories of artifacts. One of his most significant contributions has been to demonstrate a stratigraphic approach to ritual in which quite ordinary evidence such as trash fill, roofing materials, animal bones – items and deposits usually not considered ritual in nature – are used to inform on ritual behavior.

In this chapter, we combine this stratigraphic, deposit-oriented model with the performance-based approach to inform on the ritual activity during the Animas Phase. We argue that ritual activity – in particular, ball court ritual performance – explains in large part the social interaction between the site of Joyce Well, as well as other Animas Phase sites in the Southwest, and the important site of Casas Grandes of Chihuahua, Mexico (see Walker and Skibo 2002).


Central Depression Cardinal Direction Ritual Activity Ritual Behavior West Wall 
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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

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