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Ancient Fingerprints Help Unravel Just Who Was Making Pots at Chaco Canyon

New research shows it wasn’t as gendered as once thought.

The Ancestral Puebloans were a fixture in the Four Corners region of Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico for centuries, from 100 to 1600. In Chaco Canyon in northwestern New Mexico, they built roads, dams, and huge living complexes known as “great houses” that could contain hundreds of rooms. They were also known for their pottery, and it was believed that the task of making it was exclusively the province of women, with techniques and designs passed down from mothers to daughters for centuries. However, new research published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that when demand for pottery got especially high, Ancestral Puebloan men got in on the act as well.

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