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Patricia L. Crown is a Southwestern archaeologist whose work is as big picture, pioneering, and exemplary as that of A. V. Kidder. She earned her PhD from the University of Arizona in 1981 and is currently the Leslie Spier Distinguished Professor at the University of New Mexico and a member of the National Academy of Sciences.
Crown has studied the Hohokam, Mogollon, and Ancestral Pueblo peoples. Following her graduate work using ceramics to explore migration in the Southwest United States, Crown joined the staff of the Arizona State Museum’s Cultural Resources Management Division, where she was tasked with synthesizing the results of the Salt-Gila Project, the first “mega-project” in Arizona cultural resources management (CRM). Crown then engaged in the archaeology of the Chaco World and collaborated with Jim Judge to bring about a major comparative study of Chaco and Hohokam, Prehistoric Regional Systems in the American Southwest (1991). She followed this work with a synthesis of Salado Polychrome pottery that redefined the Salado phenomenon and helped transform 60 years’ of earlier interpretations of these ceramics and their producers. Crown’s work was pivotal in reintroducing the study of migration into archaeological interpretations of change and societal transformation in the Southwest/Northwest; it also has contributed broadly to many topics of anthropological significance (e.g., the origins and adoption of pottery containers, pottery specialization, women’s role in changing cuisine, and learning and apprenticeship).
Most recently, Crown, along with her co-director, W.H. Wills, conducted major work at the iconic site of Pueblo Bonito in Chaco Canyon. Because of the preservation focus of the National Park Service, almost no research-based excavations had been conducted within the park or Chaco Canyon itself for decades.
Finally, Crown has mentored many archaeologists and students, and continues to do so.
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