Late Spanish Colonial Subsistence Practices and Their Environmental Impact in the Middle Rio Grande Valley
Author(s): Caitlin Ainsworth
In 1598, Spanish colonialists introduced European domestic fauna, including sheep, pigs, and cattle, into New Mexico’s Middle Rio Grande Valley (MRGV). Sometime after this initial contact, Native residents of the MRGV shifted away from the use of a diverse set of native fauna and focused their diets on non-native domestic taxa. This shift had far reaching effects; reliance on domestic grazers ultimately led to overgrazing, erosion, and loss of native species – all of which characterize the modern Southwestern landscape. Knowledge of the timing of these changes is critical to understanding their impetus and effects. Recent research suggests the shift from exploiting a diverse resource base to reliance on a small number of domesticates occurred after the end of the 17th century but before the beginning of the 20th century. However, a lack of zooarchaelogical data from sites occupied during the 18th and 19th centuries has thus far prevented more specific dating of this critical transition. Analysis of the faunal assemblage from Los Ranchos Plaza, occupied AD 1750-1904, is helping to fill this knowledge gap, and improve our understanding of changes in the nature of human and environmental interactions following the Columbian exchange.
Cite this Record
Late Spanish Colonial Subsistence Practices and Their Environmental Impact in the Middle Rio Grande Valley. Caitlin Ainsworth. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 429533)
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min long: -115.532; min lat: 30.676 ; max long: -102.349; max lat: 42.033 ;
Abstract Id(s): 16562