Excavation of a Portion of the East Ruins, Aztec Ruins National Monument, New Mexico


Bones of animals are listed below in order of their frequency. It was not possible to identify deer as to species except in three instances for mule deer. Nor was it possible to identify rabbit other than cottontail.

Deer (unidentified)
Mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus)
Desert cottontail (Sylvilagus audubonii)
Rabbit (unidentified)
Bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis)
Merriam's turkey (Meleagris gallopavo merriami)
Rodent (unidentified)
Great horned owl (Bubo virginianus)
Beaver (Castor canadensis)
Golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos)

Bones of the deer and rabbit were commonest, followed closely by bighorn sheep and turkey. Lyndon Hargrave who identified the turkey believes they represent domesticated birds.

It was noted previously that turkey feathers were used for making robes and the bones were fashioned into tools. All examples not used as tools were found loose and unarticulated in the refuse, suggesting that the meat had been removed for food. In two sites at Mesa Verde, O'Bryan found only turkey burials and no scattered loose bones or implements, from which he concluded that the birds were kept only for feathers (1950: 101). In other sites, however, he found numerous loose turkey bones (ibid.). In summarizing the trait list for the Montezuma Phase, he states . . . turkeys were kept for meat, feathers, and the bones were used as raw materials for tools. Hunting remained of secondary importance to agriculture" (ibid.: 111).

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Last Updated: 10-Jan-2008
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Western National Parks Association