Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Name

Anthropology (Cultural Heritage and Applied Anthropology Option)

Department or School/College

Department of Anthropology

Committee Co-chair

Kelly Dixon, Cynthia Riley Augé

Commitee Members

Gregory Campbell, Richard Sattler, David Shively


ideology, irrigation, landscape archaeology, LiDAR, Mormon, technology


University of Montana


Archaeological praxis necessarily requires at least one object (a piece of technology or something that functions as an object) to articulate and explain ideologies from the past. This is problematic because ideology is abstract and difficult to locate in the archaeological record in reified form. Archaeology’s preoccupation for over 100 years has been the systematic location, identification, and excavation of discrete artifacts; features, and sites; interpreting meanings from comparative studies and data sets; and putting the past in order all while documenting change over time. Historical archaeologist Mark P. Leone identified fences, the Plat of the ideal City of Zion, Mormon temple architecture, plan, and program, and dams on the Little Colorado River in Arizona as the technologies and objects that facilitated Mormon settlement, survival, and adaptation in the Intermontane West of North America in the 19th and early 20th centuries. In 2010, Leone revisited his life-work including a critical re-examination of his original research on Mormon fences, the Plat of the ideal City of Zion, and Mormon temples. In the interim, Leone read Philosopher Slavoj Žižek’s The Sublime Object of Ideology. Žižek defined three types of ideological objects: voids (or absences); large, unattractive objects left over or resultant from the past of which we are all aware; and an index or circulating object, one that is known to exist or have existed and requires an ideological structure to understand it, e.g. Mormonism. Žižek’s definitions and rubric have a potential to answer a research question that emerges out of Leone’s life-work: What was or is the object of Mormon ideological desire in the archaeological record (OMIDAR)? The ultimate ideological desire of 19th and early 20th century Mormonism was the creation of a New Zion. A test revealed that none of the four technologies Leone previously identified completely meets Žižek’s criteria. This dissertation undertook a critical examination of LiDAR imagery of the Mormon Row Historic District (MRHD) (48TE1444) in Grand Teton National Park (GTNP) in which a provisional Mormon irrigation pattern (MIP) was identified. Leone considered irrigation associated with dams as an important factor, but did not consider it as an ideal technological object perhaps because, unlike fences, settlements, temples, and dams, irrigation was not seen as a unary object. The MIP was searched for along the Little Colorado River in Arizona. In each of the settlements in Leone’s original study area at least one relict field containing the MIP was located. As a technology and unary object, the MIP was tested against Žižek’s criteria and it passes. It is averred that the MIP is the metaphysical and material ‘footprint’ of New Zion—an ideological void. The authorizing heritage discourse (AHD) concerning irrigation features is also challenged and a recommended revision concerning their significance and eligibility for listing on the National Register of Historic Places is offered.



© Copyright 2018 William Dale Schroeder