Dietary Reconstruction Based on Coprolites from Antelope Cave

Author(s): Isabel Teixeira-Santos; Karl Reinhard

Year: 2015


Results of 20 Antelope Cave coprolites show both consistencies and inconsistencies with other Ancestral Pueblo coprolite analyses. Most of the human coprolites appear to be late summer and early fall depositions. Four principle plant foods were ground to a fine flour: maize kernels, dropseed caryopses, sunflower achenes, and cheno-am seeds. Maize and dropseed were found in six coprolites each and they did not co-occur. Microscopically, maize starch occurred in seven coprolites. Thus, maize was slightly more important than dropseed. Sunflower occurred in four coprolites and dominated three of these. Ground sunflower flour, in our experience, is unique to Antelope Cave. Flour was also made of cheno-am seeds and was found in three coprolites but dominant in only one. Following maize and wild grass, prickly pear pads were an important food source. Four coprolites included macroscopic remains of prickly pear while eleven contain microscopic remains. Prickly pear tended to co-occur with other foods. Therefore, prickly pear was an important stand-alone food and also supplemented other foods. Nutritionally, there was a high reliance on fiber-rich plant foods with low glycemic indices. The relevance of this diet to the development of NIDDM in descendent populations will be presented.

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Cite this Record

Dietary Reconstruction Based on Coprolites from Antelope Cave. Karl Reinhard, Isabel Teixeira-Santos. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 394878)


Geographic Keywords
North America - Southwest

Spatial Coverage

min long: -115.532; min lat: 30.676 ; max long: -102.349; max lat: 42.033 ;