Local Origins, Distant Connections: Exploring Prehispanic Macaw Exchange through Radiogenic Strontium Isotope Analysis at Paquimé, Chihuahua, Mexico
The prehispanic settlement of Paquimé (ca. 1200-1450 CE) lay at the intersection of traditionally-defined "Mesoamerican" and "U.S. Southwest and Northwest Mexico" (SW/NW) macro-regions in northern Chihuahua, Mexico. Extensive evidence of exchange with distant communities exists at the site, including remains of over 300 scarlet macaws; brilliantly plumed birds whose natural habitat is located at least 1000 km southeast in the humid lowlands of Mexico. Archaeological and historical records indicate these birds were ideologically and economically significant to SW/NW populations, one reason being their association with the rainy, agriculturally fertile lands of central and southern Mexico. Researchers have concluded that scarlet macaws discovered at Paquimé were largely fed and bred at the settlement, though dietary evidence suggests some birds were imported from distant, southern locations. This study employs radiogenic strontium isotope analysis on a sample of 30 scarlet macaws recovered at Paquimé to assess whether these birds were raised locally or imported. We find most 87Sr/86Sr values are consistent with baseline and local human 87Sr/86Sr values at the site, suggesting local origins, while eight individuals exhibit non-local values. We discuss several possible points of origins for these birds and consider the economic and ritual significance of this pattern.
Cite this Record
Local Origins, Distant Connections: Exploring Prehispanic Macaw Exchange through Radiogenic Strontium Isotope Analysis at Paquimé, Chihuahua, Mexico. Christopher Schwartz, Andrew Somerville. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 443297)
This Resource is Part of the Following Collections
min long: -114.346; min lat: 26.352 ; max long: -98.789; max lat: 38.411 ;
Abstract Id(s): 22687