UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Basketmaker II subsistence Matson, R.G.; Chisholm, Brian Apr 26, 2007

Your browser doesn't seem to have a PDF viewer, please download the PDF to view this item.

Item Metadata


52383-Chisholm_and_Matson_2007.pdf [ 186.07kB ]
JSON: 52383-1.0058458.json
JSON-LD: 52383-1.0058458-ld.json
RDF/XML (Pretty): 52383-1.0058458-rdf.xml
RDF/JSON: 52383-1.0058458-rdf.json
Turtle: 52383-1.0058458-turtle.txt
N-Triples: 52383-1.0058458-rdf-ntriples.txt
Original Record: 52383-1.0058458-source.json
Full Text

Full Text

Basketmaker II Subsistence R.G. Matson and Brian Chisholm rgmatson@shaw.ca; chisholm@interchange.ubc.ca Department of Anthropology, University of British Columbia (Poster presented at 72nd Annual Meeting, Society for American Archaeology Austin, Texas, April 26, 2007)  1. Introduction In 1986 we (Matson and Chisholm 1986, 1991) we reported on four lines of evidence pointing to maize agriculture being important for Basketmaker II subsistence on Cedar Mesa, Utah, (Figure 1). They included settlement patterns, coprolite analysis, midden analysis, and stable carbon analysis (Aasen 1984; Chisholm and Matson 1994; Lepofsky 1986; Matson 1991, 1994). We also briefly summarized other BM II information which led to the conclusion that the BM II in general was largely based on maize agriculture. Here we summarize the major subsistence evidence from midden, coprolite, and stable isotope analysis, focusing on that which has become available since circa 1990, and evaluate how it compares with the limited information earlier reported on Cedar Mesa. CEDAR Boomerang Shelter MESA MESA VERDE  UTAH Turkey Pen  Cortez  NAVAJO MTN. MARSH PASS  Monument Valley  e  Farmington  Ri  ve r  COLORADO PLATEAU  N 50  Pecos  Albuquerque  100 50  NEW MEXICO Rio G rand e  im nR  Grasshopper  0  o roy Ar uervo C  Mogollo  ARIZONA  er Riv Gila 0  NAVAJO RESEVOIR  co Rio Puer  River  ad lor Co  lorado Co  Ri  CHACO  Flagstaff  A  RNI  IFO  CAL  U.S .A. ME XIC O  Juan  BLACK MESA  Littl  o  San  ve r  Kanab  NEVADA  La P  lata  VIRGIN  COLORADO Durango  SIERRA BLANCA  150 km 100  150 mi Tucson  SOUTH JORNADO  TEXAS  Figure 1: Locations of sites discussed here 1  2. Coprolite Analysis Results Aasen (1984) analyzed 29 Basketmaker II coprolites from the Turkey Pen site in Grand Gulch in 1972 (Figure 2a). Maize was present in 25 of 28 human coprolites; no other plant subsistence material were present in half of them, and Pinus edulis was the most common in 7 samples. By weight maize was also the most abundant, with Oryzopsis (now Stipa of some authors), Cheno-Ams (Chenopods and Amaranths, undifferentiated), Cucurbita and Chenopods also all present in three or more coprolites (Aasen 1984). Aasen (1984) also reported maize pollen in 14, Cucurbita in 7 and beeweed (Cleome) in five. Five of the six radiocarbon dates for the 1972 samples range between 1800-2100 B.P., definitely earlier than the A.D. 200400 mesa-top Grand Gulch occupation (Matson 1991, Matson, Lipe and Haase 1988). We noted that the Turkey Pen coprolite pattern was very similar to the Pueblo coprolites from Hoy House (Scott 1979), Antelope House (Fry and Hall 1986) and Basketmaker III and Pueblo coprolite pattern summarized by Minnis (1989), with the possible exceptions of more abundant Pinus spp. and lack of beans at Turkey Pen. Since Aasen’s investigations, further Turkey Pen coprolite analyses have been produced, including those of Aasen (1986) Reinhard (1985, 1988, 1992; Reinhard and Jones (1987) and Rylander 1994). Most are of coprolites recovered during a “clean up” operation after an extensive vandalism event (Powers 1984). Thus, there is no assurance that all these coprolites are Basketmaker II, let alone that they date to the same 1800-2100 BP of the Aasen’s study. Macroscopic remains in 24 coprolites obtained from aceramic deposits exposed during the cleanup (Reinhard 1988, 1992; Reinhard and Jones 1987) show the same pattern as reported by Aasen (1984) with maize found in 23/24 (Figure 2b). Note that Aasen’s order in Figure 2a is stratigraphic, while Reinhard’s data order Figure 2b is not, however, both graphs show maize dominating followed by pinyon pine hulls. Aasen (1986) also briefly reported on 11 more coprolites from the same column reported on previously, and found the same pattern as earlier. Aasen eventually analyzed a total of 65 Basketmaker II Turkey Pen coprolites, and that she had scanned 250 from the clean-up operation and found maize in every one. Cheno-Ams are more common in Reinhard’s sample, present in 12 of 24 coprolites with Cucurbita and Indian Rice Grass (identified as “Grass seeds” in Reinhard and Jones 1987) each in 3 of 24 samples. Although the dominance of maize in both samples is obvious, and the occurrences of Cucurbita and Indian Rice grasses are similar, Reinhard reports less pinyon and more Cheno-Ams. Reinhard (1988; Reinhard et al. 1985) has a special interest in Chenopods, as a possible anthelminthic (anti-worm medicine) which might explain finding these more frequently than Aasen did, but only in quantity in one sample. The presence of the Phaseolus, the bean, is unexpected in the Basketmaker II, and raises the question whether the sample (#12) is, in fact a Basketmaker II coprolites. Reinhard (1988; Reinhard and Jones 1987) also reported on pollen analysis of 25 coprolites 18 of which had maize pollen present and 16, Cleome pollen, both in large quantities indicating ingestion of these plants, results similar to Aasen’s pollen analysis of coprolites. West (1978) also analyzed 18 midden samples from the 1972 test and found maize pollen in every one and Cucurbita pollen in six.  Boomerang Cave, Butler Wash Androy’s (2003a, 2003b) important study of remains from Boomerang Shelter in Butler Wash (Figure 1,2b) reports on both macroscopic remains from 30 coprolites and microscopic remains from 10 of the 30. Of these thirty, 27 had maize present, 16 had pinyon nut shells and 1 had Cucurbita remains (Figure 2c). Cheno-Ams were found in 17 and sunflower was present in 8. Differences from the Turkey Pen results are  2  Turkey Pen Basketmaker II Coprolites; Aasen 1984 Stratum  A  B  C  D  Sample 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28  Zea mays  Pinus  Cheno-Ams Oryzopsis Cucurbita  +  +  Chenopod leaves  +  +  +  + +  +  +  2.2  + + 2.64  +  + + +  + +  +  +  + +  1. 76 0.0  0.5  1.0  1.5  2.0 grams  + +  + = < .10 grams  Figure 2a: Aasen’s Analyses  interesting, the lack of Mentzelia (none found) and Oryzopsis remains (present only in 5). The reasons for these differences are not clear, as both are found in other Anasazi contexts. On the other hand, Rhus (Sumac) seeds were found in 10 coprolites, the first such concentration noted in Basketmaker II, although Minnis (1989) finds modest quantities in later Anasazi coprolites. Androy offers the same seasonality interpretation for his material as Aasen and we have for the Turkey Pen coprolites, spring and fall, indicating a year-round use of maize. Boomerang Shelter dates relevant to this material range from 2350-1350 B.P. with a concentration between 2000 and 1500 B.P. (Androy 2003b:16). Boomerang Shelter is at a relatively low elevation (1500m) with no higher elevation areas nearby, perhaps accounting for the differences in result from Turkey Pen, which has much higher elevations immediately adjacent, although the sites are at similar elevations. Androy (2003b:99) interprets his findings as demonstrating not only the importance of domesticates, but that many of the wild plants are weedy annuals, likely concentrated on agricultural fields, so that their abundance in the diet are also the result of agricultural activities.  3  Turkey Pen Coprolites; Reinhard 1988, 1992 Sample 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25  Zea mays  Pinus  Cheno-Ams Oryzopsis  +  +  +  +  + + + +  *  Cucurbita  ***  +  + +  + + + + + +  ** 0  1  2  3  4g  This coprolite has a bean present, possibly not BM II  * ** The only dietary material identified in this sample is opuntia *** Reinhard identified this class only to "grass seeds" Figure 2b: Reinhard’s analysis Boomerang Coprolites; Androy 2003 Zea mays (counts)  Sample  50 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30  200  50  100  50  200  +  (1)  +  (2)  +  (1)  +  (2)  (73)  +  (23)  +  (1)  +  (1)  +  (1)  (2)  (9)  + +  +  +  +  * +  Oryzopsis Cucurbita  100  (320)  (9) (251) 50  +  Cheno-Ams (counts)  Pinus edulis (nut hull fragments)  100  100  200  (7)  (5)  + +  (1) (2)  +  (3)  + +  50  100  200  (1) (2)  50  100  = present <10 no macrofossil identified, but abundant maize pollen present  * Figure 2c: Androy’s Analyses  4  Summary of Coprolite Analyses These additional coprolite studies support the main findings of Aasen’s study, which indicate that the Cedar Mesa Basketmaker II relied heavily on maize agriculture, with squash also present as an secondary agricultural product and with pinyon being the most important wild product. The numerous additional studies of the Turkey Pen coprolites confirm the originally reported pattern. The important coprolite study from Butler Wash, shows the same basic pattern is found there for the Basketmaker II as at Turkey Pen, although some interesting differences exist among some of the secondary important wild crops. Androy (2003b) points out that much of the constituents are either agricultural products or weedy annuals, likely to be abundant on abandoned agricultural plots. He also reports meat in 17 of 30 coprolites, with cottontails being the most common identified faunal remains, pointing to “garden hunting”. From this perspective, agricultural activities are larger than indicated by the amount of domesticates in these coprolites. Besides maize, only Cheno-Ams are possible C4 plants, although Opuntia uses the CAM pathway and may look like C4 in the isotopic analyses.  + + + 6.1  0  1.0  2.0  3.0  +  4.0 grams  + + + + + + + + + + + + + +  + + + + +  + +  + + + + + + + + + + +  +  + +  ntz eli a  + + + + + +  +  +  Me  Y ba ucca cca ta He lia nt h u  s  +  Cu cu rbi ta  ps is yzo Or  La ye r  (nutlets)  Ch en  *Pinus edulis  Zea mays (cobs, kernals)  A2 A3 A4 A5 A6 B2 B3 B4 B5 C2b C2c C4 C5 D1 D2  o-A ms  Turkey Pen Midden; Lepofsky, Radomsky and Cordas  + + +  + + + +  +  + +  * No cone pieces  Figure 3: Midden Analyses  3. Midden Analyses Recent midden analyses at Turkey Pen support Lepofsky’s (1984) we summarized early (Matson 1991; Matson and Chisholm 1991). Studies by Radomski (1999) and Cordas (2000) were carried out on samples originally pulled for study by Lepofsky (1984). All three analyses are combined here (Figure 3) in a summary fashion, providing a total of fifteen samples compared with the original 7 examined by Lepofsky (1984). Note that pinyon is represented only by nutlet fragments. The most important findings of this much-extended sampling are the dominant presence of maize remains, the nearly universal presence of pinyon nut shells and the nearly constant presence of squash, which is only occasionally recognized in coprolites (3 of 28 in Aasen’s 1984 study). It is also striking how  5  the upper level samples appear to have nearly as much pinyon nut remains as maize (which is also evident in Aasen’s coprolite study). Whether or not this is a reflection of actual importance in these layers, or a result of the high density nutshells preserving better, there does appear to be relatively equal weights of these two important resources in the upper layers of the midden according to these analyses. Yucca baccata is also abundant in the midden analyses (and not usually identified in coprolite analysis) and is another CAM pathway plant. 14.0  13.0  12.0  11.0  10.0  9.0  8.0  7.0  6.0  5.0  δ13C  10.0  9.0  8.0  7.0  6.0  5.0  δ13C  BM II n = 50  BM III n = 5  P I n =8  Mesa Verde PII/III n =28  Navajo Mtn. Archaic n =1  14.0  13.0  12.0  11.0  Figure 4: Carbon Isotope Ratios on the Colorado Plateau  4. Stable Isotope Analyses Our analyses reported earlier (Chisholm and Matson 1994; Matson 1991, 1994; Matson and Chisholm 1991) indicate clearly that maize was an important constituent of Basketmaker II diet. Values for the BM II individuals sampled differ from the one Archaic Period (Navajo Mountain) sample analyzed. Similar results have been reported by a number of other studies (Table, Figure 4) for Basketmaker and subsequent periods in the Anasazi region. The interesting fact here is that there appears to be considerable uniformity across the Anasazi region during Basketmaker II and into subsequent periods, while Archaic Period samples are clearly devoid of a noticeable maize isotopic signature. For these samples that provided nitrogen data (Table, Figure 5) it is also evident that maize, not filtered through an herbivore (wild turkey?) but ingested directly by humans provided a considerable amount of the protein in peoples’ diets. Studies in adjacent areas, such as the Steinaker Gap, Antelope Creek and Southern Jornado areas, show similar results with  6  people from similar times periods as BM II and later being high maize consumers and Archaic people using little if any maize, although the presence of Cheno-Ams in their diets would give a low C4 signature.  Figure 5: Average Stable Isotope Values for Sites 20.0  δ15N (0/00)  15.0  10.0  5.0  0.0 -20.0  -15.0  -10.0 δ13C (0/00)  -5.0  0.0  Conclusion Through coprolite, midden and stable isotopic analyses it is clear that maize was an important constituent of human diets, from the beginning of Basketmaker II onward in time, throughout the Colorado Plateau and immediately surrounding regions, with minimal spatial differences. Figure 4 suggests that BM II actually had a higher consumption of maize than later periods. Is this dues to the absence of domesticated beans, and / or the presence of abundant farming areas for the first agricultural people? Clearly, questions remain about BM II diet, but not about the importance of maize in their diets.  7  8  References cited Aasen, Diane K. 1984 Pollen, Macrofossil and Charcoal Analyses of Basketmaker Coprolites from Turkey Pen Ruin, Cedar Mesa, Utah. Unpublished Master’s thesis, Washington State University, Pullman. 1986 Southwestern Archaic and Basketmaker Subsistence –The Coprolite Record. Paper presented at the 51st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, New Orleans. Androy, Jerry 2003a The Role of Maize in the Basketmaker II Period. Paper presented at the 68th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Milwaukee 2003b Agriculture and Mobility during the Basketmaker II Period: The Coprolite Evidence. Master’s thesis, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff. Chisholm, Brian and R.G. Matson 1994 Carbon and Nitrogen Isotopic Evidence on Basketmaker II diet at Cedar Mesa, Utah. Kiva 60:239-256. Coltrain, Joan Brenner 1996 ‘Stable carbon and radioisotopic Analysis” In Richard Talbot and Lane D. Richens (eds.) Steinaker Gap, an early Fremont farmsted. Museum of Peoples and Culture, Occasional Papers No. 2 Brigham Young University, Salt Lake City. Coltrain, Joan Brenner, Joel Janetski and Shawn Carlyle 2006 ‘The Stable- and radioisotope chemistry of eastern Basketmaker and Pueblo groups in the Four Corners regions of the American Southwest: Implications for Anasazi diets, origins and abandonments’ In John Staller, Robert Tykot and Bruce Benz (eds.) Stories of Maize: Multidisciplinary approaches to the prehistory, biogeography, domestication and evolution of maize (Zea mays L.). Elsevier, San Diego, Pp. 276-287. Coltrain, Johan Brenner, Joel Janetski and Shawn Carlyle 2007 The Stable- and radio-isotope chemistry of western Basketmaker burials: Implications for early Puebloan diets and origins. American Antiquity 72(2):311-321 Cordas, Emily 2000 The Analysis of Macroplant Remains from a Midden Deposit in Turkey Pen Ruin In Cedar Mesa, Utah. MS on File, Laboratory of Archaeology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver. Decker. K. W. and L L. Tieszen 1989 Isotopic Reconstruction of Mesa Verde Diet from Basketmaker III to Pueblo III. Kiva 55:33-47. Ezzo, Joseph A. Jr. 1991 Dietary Change at Grasshopper Pueblo, Arizona: The evidence from Bone Chemistry. PhD dissertation, University of Wisconsin, Madison. 9  Fry, Gary and H.J. Hall 1986 ‘Human Coprolites’ In Archaeological Investigations at Antelope House, ed. by D.P. Morris, pp. 165-188. National Park Service, Washington, D.C. Habicht-Mauche, J.A., A.A. Levendosky and M.J. Schoeninger 1994 ‘Antelope Creek Subsistence: The Bone chemistry evidence’ In D.W. Owsley and R.L.Janz (eds.) Skeletal biology in teh Great Plains Migration, warfare, health and subsistence. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. pp. 291-304. Katzenberg, M. Anne 1999 Human Skeletal Remains. In Mark Varien (ed.) The Sand Canyon Archaeological Project: Site Testing. Version 1.0. Crow Canyon Archaeological Center, Cortez, Colorado. Katzenberg, M.Anne and J.H. Kelley 1991 ‘Stable isotope analysis of prehistoric bone from the Sierra Blanca region of New Mexico’ In Patrick Beckett (ed.) Mogollon V. COAS Publishing and Research, Las Cruces. Pp. 207-219. Lepofsky, Dana 1986 Preliminary Analysis of Flotation Samples from the Turkey Pen Ruin, Cedar Mesa, Utah. Paper on File, Laboratory of Archaeology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver. MacNeish, R.S. and B. Marino 1993 ‘Carbon 13/12 and nitrogen 15/14 isotope ratios on skeletons from the Jornado area’ In R.S. MacNeish (ed.) Preliminary Investigations of the Archaic in the region of Las Cruces, New Mexico. Historic and Natural Resources Report No. 9. Fort Bliss, Texas, Pp. 117-122. Martin, D.L., A.H. Goodman, G.J. Armelagos, and A.L. Magennis 1991 Black Mesa Anasazi Health: Reconstructing Life from Patterns of Death and Disease. Center for Archaeological Investigations, Occasional Paper No. 14, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale. Martin, Steve L. 1999 Virgin Anasazi Diet as Demonstrated Through the Analysis of Stable Carbon and Nitrogen Isotopes. Kiva 64:495-514. Matson, R.G. 1991 The Origins of Southwestern Agriculture. University of Arizona Press, Tucson. 1994  Anomalous Basketmaker II sites on Cedar Mesa; Not so anomalous after all. Kiva 60(2):219-238.  Matson, R.G. and B. Chisholm 1986 Basketmaker II Subsistence: Carbon isotopes and other dietary Indicators from Cedar Mesa, Utah. Paper presented at the Third Anasazi Symposium, Oct. 24-25, Monument Valley, Utah.  10  1991 Basketmaker II Subsistence: Carbon isotopes and other Dietary Indicators from Cedar Mesa, Utah. American Antiquity 56:444-459. Matson, R.G ., W.D. Lipe and W. Haase 1988 Adaptational Continuties and Occupational Discontinuities: The Cedar Mesa Anasazi. Journal of Field Archaeology 15:245-64. Minnis, Paul E. 1989 Prehistoric diet in the northern Southwest: Macroplant remains from Four Corners feces. American Antiquity 54:543-563. Powers, Margaret A. 1984 The Salvage of Archaeological Data from Turkey Pen Ruin, Grand Gulch Primitive Area, San Juan County, Utah. Division of Conservation Archaeology, San Juan County Museum Association, Contributions to Anthropology Series, No. 808, Farmington, New Mexico. Radomski, Elizabeth 1999 Continuing Analysis of Bulk Midden Samples from Turkey Pen Ruin, Cedar Mesa, Utah. Paper on File, Laboratory of Archaeology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver. Reinhard, Karl J. 1985 Recovery of Helminth Remains from Coprolites: The Cultural Ecology of Prehistoric Parasitism. M.S. Thesis, Department of Biological Sciences, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff. Reinhard, Karl J. 1988 Diet, Paratism, and Anemia in the Prehistoric Southwest. Unpublished PhD dissertation, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas. Reinhard, Karl J. 1992 ‘Patterns of Diet, Parasitism, and Anemia in Prehistoric West North America.’ In Diet, Demography and Disease: Changeing Perspectives on Anemia, edited by P. Stuart-Macadam and S. Kent, pp. 219-258. Aldine de Gruyter, New York. Reinhard, Karl J. and John G. Jones 1987 Dietary and Parasitological Analysis of Turkey Pen Cave: A Basketmaker II Village in the Grand Gulch, Utah. Paper in possession of Sr. Author. Reinhard, Karl J., J.R. Ambler, and M. McGuffie 1985 Diet and Parastism at Dust Devil Cave. American Antiquity 50:819-824. Rylander, K.A. 1994 ‘Corn preparation among the Basketmaker Anasazi: A scanning electron microscope study of Zea mays remains from coprolites.’ In Sobolik, K.D. (ed.) Paleonutrition: The diet and health of prehistoric Americnas.Center for Archaeological Investigations, Occasional paper No. 22, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale. 11  Schoeninger, Margaret J. 1999 ‘Prehistoric subsistence strategies in the Stillwater Marsh region of the Carson Desert’ In Brian Hemphill and Clark Spenser Larsen (eds.) Prehistoric Lifeways in the Great Basin Wetlands. University of Utah Press, Salt Lake City, Pp. 151-166. Scott, L.J. 1979 Dietary Inferences from Howy House coprolites: A palynological interpretation. Kiva 44:257-281. Spielmann, Katherine A., Margaret J. Schoeninger, and Katherine Moore. 1990 Plains-Pueblo interpendence and human diet at Pecos Pueblo, New Mexico. American Antiquity 55: 745- 765. West, Gerald James 1978 Recent Palynology of the Cedar Mesa area, Utah. Unpublished dissertation, University of California, Davis. Zweifel, Matthew, Jeanette Matovich, and Ronald Rood n.d. The Tommy Turf Site 42Ka6032; A Basketmaker II Burial from Kane County, Utah. In Press in the 2006 Grand Staircase-Escalente National Monument Science Symposium Proceedings.  Acknowledgements We thank all those who have helped us on this over the last 20 years. We particularly thank Joan Coltrain and Joel Janetski for access to unpublished data and Z. Jing for access to his facilities for this poster. Susan Matson (smatson@shaw.ca) produced the figures.  12  13  


Citation Scheme:


Citations by CSL (citeproc-js)

Usage Statistics



Customize your widget with the following options, then copy and paste the code below into the HTML of your page to embed this item in your website.
                            <div id="ubcOpenCollectionsWidgetDisplay">
                            <script id="ubcOpenCollectionsWidget"
                            async >
IIIF logo Our image viewer uses the IIIF 2.0 standard. To load this item in other compatible viewers, use this url:


Related Items