Why raise Turkeys in the Mesa Verde Region?

Author(s): R.G. Matson; William Lipe

Year: 2017


Lipe et al. (2017) present estimates of the costs of raising maize fed turkeys. Raising a turkey required approximately one-third as much maize as a Puebloan ate in a year. Here we present the probable reason for engaging in this costly behavior. Pueblo III Mesa Verdeans had a diet heavily dependent on maize and short on other protein sources. Most importantly, it was short on two essential amino acids, lysine and tryptophan. We begin by reconstructing the height and weight of Pueblo III Mesa Verdeans from their remains. We then produce estimates of calories consumed and compare this with the amount of calories and proteins provided by maize. Well-supported evidence indicates that 80% of both requirements came from maize. The amounts of lysine and tryptophan provided, however, are insufficient and beans and animal protein are the only constituents of Pueblo III coprolites with significant amounts of these amino acids. Yet the same evidence indicates that the amount of beans alone is inadequate and only small amounts of wild animal protein was consumed. In such a setting raising turkeys has obvious benefits.

Cite this Record

Why raise Turkeys in the Mesa Verde Region?. R.G. Matson, William Lipe. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 429041)

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections


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): 14639