Let Them Eat Corn: Using Stable Isotopes to Explore Turkey Management in the Mississippian Period Southeast
Author(s): Kelly Ledford
The eastern wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo sylvestris) is a well documented resource for Native Americans in the Southeastern United States. Recent research suggests that turkeys may have been managed by Mississippian period people in Middle Tennessee as opposed to being hunted solely in the wild. These conclusions are based on a combination of ethnographic sources, osteometric data, and other non-osseous evidence. As a part of my thesis, I extracted collagen from 12 prehistoric turkey specimens in Middle Tennessee to determine if their isotopic signatures reflect that of a wild diet comprised of grasses and shrubs, or if their signatures indicate their diet was supplemented with agricultural products like maize. I compare the isotope results from this analysis to other research from the Southwestern United States and Mesoamerica where evidence for the domestication of turkeys alongside maize agriculture by prehistoric people is well documented. This research is the first to apply stable isotope analysis to ancient turkey remains in the region. Our understanding of human-turkey relationships in the region is lacking and this study aims to provide a more holistic interpretation of the complex human-environmental relationships of the Mississippian period in the Southeast.
Cite this Record
Let Them Eat Corn: Using Stable Isotopes to Explore Turkey Management in the Mississippian Period Southeast. Kelly Ledford. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 445366)
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min long: -93.735; min lat: 24.847 ; max long: -73.389; max lat: 39.572 ;
Abstract Id(s): 22535