Carbon, Nitrogen, and Oxygen Stable Isotope Ratios from Room 28 Lagomorphs


Stable isotope analysis is a powerful tool for investigating ecological change and human impact in the past. Here, we present carbon, oxygen, and nitrogen stable isotope results from lagomorphs excavated from Room 28 alongside those from two other archeological sites within Chaco Canyon (Pueblo Bonito middens and the Bc57 site) as well as modern lagomorphs collected opportunistically during archeological survey. Oxygen isotope ratios remain consistent between time periods and locations, which is inconsistent with the idea that oxygen isotopes can be used as an indicator of long-distance procurement of small mammal fauna in ancient Chaco Canyon. Carbon isotopes are enriched for archeological versus modern fauna suggesting a heavier C4 plant component to past lagomorphs’ diets. Room 28 lagomorphs are also significantly more enriched and more highly variable in their nitrogen isotope ratios than those from modern collections. This pattern of enriched carbon and nitrogen isotopes archeologically is not observed in rodents, suggesting that the lagomorph differences are not purely the result of ecological change. Rather, these results are consistent with the garden-keeping hypothesis, in which ancient people in Chaco Canyon supplemented the diets of lagomorphs with agricultural crops (maize) from fertilized fields.

Cite this Record

Carbon, Nitrogen, and Oxygen Stable Isotope Ratios from Room 28 Lagomorphs. Marian Hamilton, Cyler N. Conrad, Patricia Crown, Wirt Wills, Emily Lena Jones. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 444045)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: -124.365; min lat: 25.958 ; max long: -93.428; max lat: 41.902 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 20205