Contextualizing Ancestral Pueblo Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo spp.) Management

Departmental News

Posted:  Sep 08, 2021 - 09:00am

Research recently published by adjunct assistant professor Cyler Conrad from the Department of Archaeology at The University of New Mexico examines the importance of turkeys to the Ancestral Pueblo people and how they have managed the birds for more than 1,600 years. Evidence of turkeys and various methods of enclosing them is evident in the ancient pueblos all over New Mexico and surrounding areas, making them part of the area's history.

In Contextualizing Ancestral Pueblo Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo spp.) Management, Conrad reviewed the archaeological record to focus on three main questions: how turkey pens are identified, if turkey pen construction or evidence for captivity shifts through time, and what the record of turkey penning informs us regarding the long-term human management of these birds and global perspectives on human-bird/human-animal management.

“The research is a large review of archaeological evidence for turkey management by Ancestral Pueblo peoples throughout the American Southwest and Mexican Northwest, and by management, I mean keeping turkeys in pens or other enclosed spaces. What I discovered by reading through ethnographic and ethnohistoric descriptions, archaeological site reports and publications focused on turkey pen contexts is that Ancestral Pueblo people participated in a complex relationship with these birds,” Conrad explained. Read more