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Prehistoric Anasazi diet : a synthesis of archaeological evidence Brand, Michael James


Prehistoric Anasazi diet from the Basketmaker II to Pueblo III periods is examined through a synthesis of four lines of archaeological data taken from the literature: faunal analysis, flotation and pollen analysis, coprolite analysis and stable carbon isotope analysis. This study examines the importance of com in Anasazi diet, the intensification of agricultural production and changes in diet which may be linked to the thirteenth century regional abandonments. The core resources, or dietary staples, in the Anasazi diet are identified for each period of the Anasazi tradition. The results indicate considerable similarity in the diets of the people from the four Anasazi branches discussed and throughout the time periods considered. The analysis demonstrates that corn was the primary resource in the Anasazi diet beginning in the Basketmaker II period. Squash and a number of wild plants also made substantial contributions to the diet. Evidence was found for stable agricultural production, with no indication of intensification aimed at the three commonly discussed cultigens: corn, squash and beans. The appearance of cotton in the later pueblo periods, however, may represent an attempt to increase food production through the adoption of a new cultigen. This study has found that the utilization of food resources remained stable throughout the Anasazi occupation of the Colorado Plateau, including the period immediately prior to the regional abandonments.

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