Household Ecology and the Legacy of the Secondary Products Revolution in Yucatán


In this paper, we examine the changes in household ecology that resulted from the introduction of European domesticates to Yucatán after the Spanish invasion. New animals and plants were not adopted wholesale as a Euroagrarian suite in the sixteenth century. Instead, heterogeneous practices took root in highly altered demographic and environmental settings. Ecosystems were re-engineered as animals moved into new anthropogenic niches. We compare archaeological and ethnoarchaeological evidence of animal husbandry practices in farming settlements in central Yucatán to the residential patterns and zooarchaeological evidence recovered from labourers’ house lots at the Hacienda San Pedro Cholul, a henequen hacienda located on the outskirts of Mérida. Our evidence shows that adoption of European domesticates altered mutualistic relations among humans, plants, and animals in native communities. Animal traction transformed hydrologic technologies and transportation across the peninsula and spurred industrialisation in the nineteenth century. Agropastoralism heightened socioeconomic disparities among rural households and contributed to uneven socioeconomic development in Yucatán over the last 500 years.

KEYWORDS: Historical archaeology, households, Yucatán, México, zooarchaeology, Spanish conquest

Cite this Record

Household Ecology and the Legacy of the Secondary Products Revolution in Yucatán. Rani Alexander, Héctor Hernández Álvarez. Environmental Archaeology: The Journal of Palaeoecology. 2016 ( tDAR id: 403805)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -107.271; min lat: 12.383 ; max long: -86.353; max lat: 23.08 ;


General Note: The SAA paper was revised and published under the title Agropastoralism and Household Ecology in Yucatan after the Spanish Invasion.