PhD Dissertations: Carmen Tarcan, 2005

Counting Sheep: Fauna, Contact and Colonialism at Zuni Pueblo, New Mexico, A.D. 1300–1900

This dissertation examines faunal assemblages from the old, ceremonial core of Zuni Pueblo, spanning the period ca. A.D. 1300-1900, to explore changes in subsistence patterns associated with the introduction of Old World domesticates. Temporal analyses of several major characteristics, including taxonomic frequency distributions, herd management strategies, butchery, and body-part representations indicate patterns consistent with the adoption and incorporation of new foods and technologies, along with a persistence of Zuni traditional practices. Sheep, a major protein and secondary product source in the Iberian subsistence system, became important at Zuni Pueblo as early as Mission times. Although the diet at Zuni appears to be predominantly Spanish (with sheep being most common), aboriginal elements such as the hunting of deer and pronghorn are maintained. This is consistent with ethnographic data on the importance of wild animals in Zuni religious life.

The analysis of sheep and goat kill-off patterns indicates that animals were mainly slaughtered at a young age, which correlates well with an emphasis on obtaining meat from flocks, but also with wool production. It is argued that this pattern might reflect the deposition of animals slaughtered for communal ritual activities in later historic times and not the general economic orientation at Zuni Pueblo. Butchery and body-part distributions indicate that animals were brought to and slaughtered in this area of the site and that the Middle Village more likely reflects a household, unspecialized, traditional butchery practice, with the Spanish influence being mostly reflected in the adoption of metal tools.

In conclusion, it is suggested that the Zuni incorporated European additions and modified previous domestic subsistence strategies, while still maintaining and perpetuating aspects of their traditional practices. The changes that took place at Zuni Pueblo after the Spanish entrada reflect the adoption of new dietary practices, but also an adjustment to strategies that emphasize local economic and ritual customs.