Food Security of Ancestral Tewa Coalescent Communities: The Zooarchaeology of Sapa'owingeh (BLA306) in the Northern Rio Grande, New Mexico
Food security, the measure of access to safe and sufficient food, is a critical global issue, not just because of its effects on health, but also because of the potentially negative consequences that food insecurity can have on mental and social well-being. Archaeology is uniquely situated to inform and articulate with global food security studies by focusing on past lived experiences of social and environmental conditions and events. The experiences of and responses to those conditions, in turn, inform present day policy and humanitarian efforts.
This study examines how residents of Sapa’owingeh, a Classic Period (A.D. 1350-1600) Tewa pueblo in the northern Rio Grande, experienced coalescence through the impacts of rapid population increase and social reorganization on animal use. Utilizing Tewa ethnographies and food security literature, I create models of social institutions and practices and employ common zooarchaeological methods. Faunal patterns reveal that Tewa practices and institutions were in effect from the beginning of occupation and peaked with population in the mid-1400s. This suggests that Tewa institutions possibly were present during the founding of the village and were elaborated over time. Food security varied and was lowest during the late period but was moderate when population was growing despite variable precipitation. As population declined, Tewa institutions appear to have diminished, resulting in high food insecurity despite climatic stability. This patterning indicates that favorable ecological conditions are not enough to ensure community cohesion. Social and religious mechanisms also are required to ensure equitable access to food in large villages.
Cite this Record
Food Security of Ancestral Tewa Coalescent Communities: The Zooarchaeology of Sapa'owingeh (BLA306) in the Northern Rio Grande, New Mexico. ( tDAR id: 459534) ; doi:10.48512/XCV8459534
Sapawe, Sapa'owingeh, BLA306
Hamlet / Village
Northern Rio Grande, Lower Rio Chama Valley
Northern Rio Grande Classic Period, Pueblo IV
Calendar Date: 1350 to 1600
min long: -0.01; min lat: -0.016 ; max long: 0.012; max lat: 0.013 ;
Individual & Institutional Roles
Contact(s): Rachel Burger
Maxwell Museum of Anthropology, University of New Mexico