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What really happened to the Anasazi The Crisis of the Thirteenth Century The Anasazi are ancestors of the present- day Pueblo Zuni and Hopi tribes of New Mexico and Arizona The Anasazi fished hunted small game and gathered wild foods They eventually started to build elaborate structures called cliff dwellings moving away from the subterranean pit houses They used a sophisticated irrigation system to support their civilization Using dams and dikes contoured terraces and reservoirs the Anasazi made the most of the sandy soil and limited rainfall in their desert climate Some archaeologists and historians believed that a lack of rainfall led to the demise of the Anasazi Other scientists believe that cannibalism caused the downfall of the Anasazi Along with attacks from the neighboring tribe the Navajo the Cannibalism theory provides a more practical explanation for the disappearance of the Anasazi What caused the Anasazi people who had one of the most sophisticated civilizations in North America to abandon their beautiful stone dwellings in the mid- 12th century One of the earliest theories was the Great Drought theory presented by AE Douglass an historian and archaeologist He discovered new techniques for tree ring dating called dendrochronology he then charted the tree rings in living trees and overlapped and matched them with those found in wooden beams from increasingly older archaeological sites Douglass discovered that there was a great drought in the American West between 1276 and 1299 about the time when Anasazi cities had been abandoned Although the Great Drought theory has been used to explain the disappearance of the Anasazi for many years scientist and archaeologists are uncovering new evidence that could improve the understanding of why the Anasazi left their homes in the Midwest Christy Turner a professor of physical anthropology at Arizona State University authored a book called Man Corn Cannibalism and Violence in the Prehistoric American Southwest in which he explains the Cannibalism theory Turner has refined his
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