From Neutral to Mutual: A Long-Term Perspective on Human-Rabbit Relationships in Highland Mexico

Author(s): Andrew Somerville

Year: 2018


Studies of human-animal relationships provide insights into multiple issues relevant to archaeological research, including changes in human-environmental interactions, subsistence strategies, and socio-cultural dynamics. This presentation investigates the relationship between humans and rabbits (cottontails and jackrabbits), which were among the most commonly consumed animals in pre-Hispanic Mesoamerica. Focusing primarily on the settlement of Teotihuacan in the Basin of Mexico during the Preclassic to Historical periods (~150 BC to AD 1900), the presentation explores human-rabbit interactions through both archaeological data and stable isotope analysis of preserved rabbit bones. Temporal patterns and trends are interpreted through the lens of niche construction theory, an ecological concept that prioritizes the changes that organisms make to their environments, and the ways in which these changes feed back and influence the organisms themselves. Ultimately, this paper suggests that the ecological niche created by the urban development of Teotihuacan favored new types of relationships between the human residents and commensal rabbit species, which were mutualistically beneficial to both organisms and had implications for the local economic and social organization of the city.

Cite this Record

From Neutral to Mutual: A Long-Term Perspective on Human-Rabbit Relationships in Highland Mexico. Andrew Somerville. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 443793)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: -107.271; min lat: 18.48 ; max long: -94.087; max lat: 23.161 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 21669