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Two episodes of ritual turkey and dog burials in southwestern Colorado; a case study

Author(s): Robin Lyle

Year: 2017

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Many instances of turkey and dog burials have been documented in the prehistoric American Southwest. Some are simple burials or discarded remains but some examples bear characteristics of deliberate sacrifice, arrangement and elaborate ritual interment. Excavations directed by D. M. Dove from 2008 through 2012 in Early Pueblo II period contexts at the large Champagne Spring site in Dolores County, Colorado, revealed two unprecedented examples of this latter type. On or near the floors of two pit structures were complete skeletal remains of multiple turkeys, dogs and other animal remains systematically arranged and covered with sandstone slabs and rich cultural deposits. Orientation and association of the various skeletons clearly suggests symbolic meaning in each episode, as does the sheer number of otherwise healthy individuals including; day old turkey poults, puppies, a crow, cottontail rabbit, rattlesnake and several aged turkey hens with healed fractures. These two different episodes of elaborate, ritual burial occurred within a few meters of each other and a human generation apart but they both demonstrate significant, deliberate community scale sacrifice.

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Two episodes of ritual turkey and dog burials in southwestern Colorado; a case study. Robin Lyle. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 428808)


Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 14699

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