Crow Canyon Archaeologist Examines Relationship Between Meat and Social Organization

Posted June 2, 2019

A new paper co-authored by the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center’s Director of Archaeology, Susan Ryan, Ph.D., takes a closer look at meat and how it’s availability and consumption relates to social organization in ancestral Pueblo communities.

“Desirable Meat: The Social Context of Meat Procurement at Albert Porter Pueblo, a Great House Community in the Central Mesa Verde Region” was written by Ryan, Director of Archaeology at Crow Canyon, along with lead author Shaw Badenhorst, Ph.D., Senior Researcher at the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa, and Jon Driver, Ph.D., Vice President and Provost of Simon Fraser University in British Columbia and Crow Canyon Research Associate.

The paper, published by Kiva—Journal of Southwestern Anthropology and History, examines wild game and turkey remains found at Albert Porter Pueblo, an ancestral Pueblo village located in Southwest Colorado near the modern-day town of Yellow Jacket. The nearly 12-acre site, owned by The Archaeological Conservancy, was the location of testing and excavation by Crow Canyon archaeologists from 2001–2004.

According to the authors, faunal remains are generally the same between the Albert Porter great house and the surrounding small houses. However, there is evidence that indicates there were more cottontail rabbits and turkeys consumed in the great house compared to domestic structures during the Pueblo III period (A.D. 1150–1280). The paper reports that differences in social rank, wealth, or control of ritual and ceremonial practice can be expressed through the privileged access to the consumption (or avoidance) of certain animals in complex social organizations.

The authors explore the different possible interpretations of social organization suggested by the faunal remains uncovered by excavations at the site.

The paper is available to download Badenhorst et al. 2019.

For more information on how you can work with Susan and the rest of our incredible archaeology staff on Crow Canyon’s current research project—the Northern Chaco Outliers Project at the Haynie site, click here or call 800-422-8975, ext. 451.