Too Many Turkeys?

Date and Time: 
Friday, 18 March, 2016 - 09:15
, William - Washington State U
, Laura - Washington State U.
, RG - U of British Columbia
, Robin - Crow Canyon Archaeol. Center

In the Northern San Juan area of the Southwest, turkey bones increase markedly relative to those of artiodactyls in Ancestral Pueblo sites of the AD 1200s, apparently in response to game depletion.  We use excavated faunal assemblages to model the proportional contribution of turkeys, artiodactyls, lagomorphs, and other small animals to the AD 1200s diet.  We estimate that in some large villages, domestic turkeys contributed over half the minimum need for animal protein.  Both the birds and their keepers were heavily dependent on maize; three adult turkeys would have required as much maize as a single adult human. Keeping turkeys would have required larger harvests, more storage capacity, and increased time and effort, thus adding substantial costs (and risks) to a subsistence economy dependent on dry farming.