An Investigation of Ancient Turkeys near Houck, Arizona

Author(s): Blythe Morrison

Year: 2018


This research explores microscale patterns of human-avian interaction in the prehispanic Southwest by identifying evidence of Meleagris gallopavo (turkey) use at a series of multicomponent sites near Houck, Arizona. Using legacy field notes, maps, photos, and artifacts housed at the Museum of Northern Arizona, I provide information about the spatiotemporal contexts of turkey remains at the Houck site cluster. The area of focus was primarily occupied between AD 800-1250, before and during the transitional period when turkeys became nutritionally significant to local populations. The presence of Chacoan masonry at one of the larger habitations indicates linkage with a larger cultural phenomenon. When the sites were excavated during a highway expansion project in the early 1960s, turkey remains were found in a number of different archaeological contexts. Using spatial analysis, faunal evaluation, and ethnographic review, I identify trends in turkey presence over time. I analyze use patterns by engaging concepts of behavioral archaeology, domestication theory, and multispecies ethnography. This research provides innovative information on the range of relationships between Ancestral Pueblo people and turkeys in the ancient Puerco Valley and the implications that the Houck community provides within the larger picture of avian domestication in the American Southwest.

Cite this Record

An Investigation of Ancient Turkeys near Houck, Arizona. Blythe Morrison. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 443258)

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

Spatial Coverage

min long: -123.97; min lat: 37.996 ; max long: -101.997; max lat: 46.134 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 21832