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Plains-Pueblo Interdependence and Human Diet at Pecos Pueblo, New Mexico

  • Katherine A. Spielmann (a1), Margaret J. Schoeninger (a2) and Katherine Moore (a3)

Using bone-chemistry data, this project sought to assess the degree of dietary change that occurred among eastern border Pueblo populations due to prehistoric food exchange with hunter-gatherers on the Plains and to the arrival of Spanish colonists. In so doing we introduce a technique for dietary reconstruction that determines the range of diets compatible with bone-chemistry data from a particular population. The data are derived from samples of modern and archaeological plants and animals collected from the area surrounding Pecos Pueblo, and from archaeological humans recovered from Pecos itself. Bone-strontium concentrations were measured to monitor the relative proportions of meat to vegetables in the diet. Carbon and nitrogen stable-isotope ratios in food items and in bone collagen were measured to monitor the dependence on maize and bison meat. The results do not provide support for the hypothesis that bison replaced mule deer in the diet during the period of significant Plains-Pueblo trade. If bison, whose diets are relatively enriched in 13C had replaced mule deer, an increase in average δ13C values should have occurred. This, however, was not observed. A decrease in carbon-isotope values in the historic period suggests that either bison meat or maize or both decreased in importance in the Pecos diet and that dependence on wild plants increased.


En base a datos químicos defragmentos óseos se intentó determinar el grado en el que cambió la dieta entre las poblaciones Pueblo del este, debido al intercambio con cazadores y recolectores prehistóricos y al impacto de la llegada de colonizadores españoles. Con esto se presenta una técnica para reconstruir dietas que permite determinar un cierto rango de dietas compatibles con la composición química defragmentos óseos de una población determinada. Los datos fueron obtenidos del análisis de flora y fauna contemporáneas al igual que de especímenes encontrados en localidades arqueológicas en el área circumvecina a Pecos Pueblo. Además, se analizaron restos óseos humanos de la misma zona arqueológica de Pecos. Se midieron las concentraciones de Estroncio para controlar las proporciones relativas de came y vegetales en la dieta. Así mismo fueron medidas las proporciones de los isótopos estables de Nitrógeno y Carbono en productos alimenticios y calógeno óseo para determinar la dependencia de la dieta en maíz y came de bisonte. Los resultados no dan soporte a la hipótesis de que la came de bisonte sustituyó a la del venado cariacú en la dieta durante el período en el cual el comercio entre los pobladores de los llanos y los indios Pueblo fue significativo. Como la dieta de bisonte está relativamente enriquecida en 13C, un aumento del promedio en δ13C debería haber ocurrido en caso de que éste sustituyera al venado cariacú. Pero éste no es el caso. El decrecimiento de las proporciones de los isótopos de Carbono durante el período histórico sugiere una disminución en importancia de la came de bisonte, o del maíz, o ambos en la dieta de los habitantes de Pecos, mientras que la dependencia en plantas silvestres se incrementó.

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