Red or Green? Examining the Reliability of Macaw Postcranial Identification

Author(s): Shannon Landry

Year: 2017


Archaeologists consider macaws highly valuable trade items which served an important economic and ritual role in the prehistoric Southwest. Costly to acquire, brightly colored, and difficult to keep, macaws are often an exciting indicator of social complexity. There is a consensus that the bright red Scarlet Macaw was used and traded with greater frequency than the emerald green Military Macaw in the American Southwest. Yet variation in size and morphological similarity of Ara sp. postcrania make species level identification of macaws exceedingly unreliable, making past identifications based on postcranial elements problematic. Aside from small-scale, though valuable, lines of inquiry on the topic (e.g. Bullock 2007), this problem remains understated. This poster explores the potential impacts of past, present, and future macaw postcranial identification and interpretation; offers suggestions for modern faunal analysts; and considers the methodological barriers that have led to this point.

Cite this Record

Red or Green? Examining the Reliability of Macaw Postcranial Identification. Shannon Landry. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 428962)

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Geographic Keywords
North America - Southwest

Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 16644