|Northern Arizona University
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Demographic expansion and colonization of new territories by agriculturalists is characteristic of Neolithic transitions around the world. The central San Juan region of the northern Southwest was first colonized by ancestral Pueblo farming populations during the Basketmaker III period (A.D. 500-725) after nearly 1000 years of avoidance by early farmers during the previous Basketmaker II period (500 B.C.-500 A.D.). This thesis examines the social processes that contributed to this demographic shift through historical reconstruction and an assessment of architecture and ritual features during colonization. These analyses demonstrate that what began as a socio-political boundary between culturally distinct populations was transformed by historical events and social adaptation into a multi-cultural colonization frontier organized around burgeoning social institutions.