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Historical Continuity in Southern Arizona Free Range Ranching Practices: Carbon, Oxygen, and Strontium Isotope Evidence from two 18th Century Missions

Author(s): Deanna Grimstead ; Barnet Pavao-Zuckerman

Year: 2016

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Summary

Carbon (δ13C), oxygen (δ18O), and strontium (87Sr/86Sr) isotopes from cattle, caprine, and small mammal teeth from two historic-period Spanish missions and modern cattle were assayed with the goal of reconstructing historic ranching practices in the Sonoran Desert of southwestern North America. Carbon isotope ratios from modern cattle indicate that it is possible to distinguish cattle free ranged within upper elevations desert habitats compared to lower elevation free ranged or possibly foddered animals. It is not possible to distinguish maize-foddering versus low elevation free-ranging of livestock in the Sonoran Desert using δ13C. Historic-period livestock indicate they were free ranged at upper elevations, lower elevations and/or foddered, and several specimens show evidence of a mixed strategy. Oxygen isotope ratios (δ18O) suggest that missions managed water resources for livestock use, and were, for the most part, kept away from riparian zones. 87Sr/86Sr results demonstrate trade was an important part of Mission ranching practices, as several specimens are non-local; coming from a minimum distance of 40 km, but more likely greater than 150 km. Taken together, the δ13C, δ18O, and 87Sr/86Sr results are consistent with continuity in free-ranged herd management practices from the historic Mission era to present day within the Sonoran desert.


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Historical Continuity in Southern Arizona Free Range Ranching Practices: Carbon, Oxygen, and Strontium Isotope Evidence from two 18th Century Missions. Deanna Grimstead, Barnet Pavao-Zuckerman. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 403591)


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Spatial Coverage

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

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America