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STABLE OXYGEN ISOTOPE SOURCING OF ARCHAEOLOGICAL FAUNA FROM CHACO CANYON, NEW MEXICO

  • Marian I. Hamilton (a1), B. Lee Drake (a1), W. H. Wills (a1), Emily Lena Jones (a1), Cyler Conrad (a1) and Patricia L. Crown (a1)...
Abstract

Modern datasets provide the context necessary for accurate interpretations of isotopic data from archaeological faunal assemblages. In this study, we use the oxygen isotope ratios (δ18O) of modern small mammals from Chaco Canyon, New Mexico, to quantify expected isotopic variation in a local population. The δ18O values of local, modern small mammals encompass a broad range (−6.0‰ to 4.8‰ VPDB), which is expected given the extreme seasonal variation in the δ18O of precipitation on the Colorado Plateau (−11‰ to −3‰ VPDB). Isotopic ratios of small mammals obtained from excavated archaeological sites in Chaco Canyon (ca. AD 800 to 1200) show no significant differences with their modern counterparts, suggesting that there is no difference in the origins of the archaeological small-mammal collection and the modern, local Chaco Canyon small-mammal collection. In contrast, δ18O values of large mammals from Chaco archaeological sites are significantly different from those of modern specimens, reflecting a nonlocal, but also nonspecific, source in the past.

Los datos isotópicos de los animales modernos pueden proporcionar información importante para la interpretación de los datos isotópicos procedentes de conjuntos faunísticos arqueológicos. En este estudio utilizamos las proporciones de isótopos de oxígeno (δ18O) de pequeños mamíferos modernos en Chaco Canyon, Nuevo México, para cuantificar la variación esperada para una única población local. El rango de valores de δ18O de los pequeños mamíferos locales en Chaco Canyon es amplio (-6,0‰ a 4,8‰ VPDB). Esto no es sorprendente, dada la considerable variación estacional de δ18O ligada a la precipitación en la meseta del Río Colorado (-11‰ a -3‰ VPDB). Las proporciones isotópicas de los pequeños mamíferos arqueológicos procedentes de los sitios excavados en Chaco Canyon (ca. 800–1200 dC) no difieren de manera significativa de las de los animales modernos. Esto sugiere que no hay diferencias de procedencia entre la colección arqueológica de pequeños mamíferos y los mamíferos locales modernos de Chaco Canyon. En cambio, los valores de δ18O de los mamíferos grandes de los sitios arqueológicos de la zona son muy distintos de los valores de mamíferos grandes modernos. Esto sugiere que los especímenes de mamíferos grandes arqueológicos tienen origen diferente y no local, aunque no especulamos sobre dónde pudo haber sido ese lugar.

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Corresponding author
(mih5002@gmail.com, corresponding author)
References
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