Agave Roasting Pits of the Mescalero Apache

Author(s): Holly Houghten

Year: 2019


This is an abstract from the "Hot Rocks in Hot Places: Investigating the 10,000-Year Record of Plant Baking across the US-Mexico Borderlands" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

One of the main staple foods of the Mescalero Apache was Mescal or Agave. The heart of the plant is cooked in an earth oven for four days. The plant is then eaten straight out of the oven or dried for storage and supply. Today the roasting of Mescal is still done every year in the spring and there are numerous roasting pits on the Reservation that are still used today, as well as several on public lands that are in the traditional homelands. Roughly 75-200 heads of agave are roasted and eaten on the Reservation every year.

Within the Guadalupe Mountains, the winter traditional homelands of the Mescalero Apache, there are thousands of roasting features. Many of these features were created by the prehistoric Mogollon, but many are also from the Apache, or utilized by both. In this presentation, I will provide a look at the modern construction, use, and reuse of these pits. This ethnographic look at earth ovens will allow a better understanding and stress the importance of these archeological features that are so prominent throughout the southwest.

Cite this Record

Agave Roasting Pits of the Mescalero Apache. Holly Houghten. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 450719)

Spatial Coverage

min long: -123.97; min lat: 25.958 ; max long: -92.549; max lat: 37.996 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 25708