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Steven R. James – “Zooarchaeology at Pueblo Grande and the Origin of Chickens in the American Southwest (Or Why Did the Chickens Cross the Desert?)”

February 15 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm MST (Arizona)

Preregistration Required at us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_pL_cPqmXQkGOtDKGFcfFzw

In the late 1930s, a Works Progress Administration (WPA) crew under the direction of Albert H. Schroeder excavated Trash Mound No. 1, a Preclassic Colonial period deposit (A.D. 775-950) at the extensive Hohokam site of Pueblo Grande along the Salt River in Phoenix, Arizona. This material remained largely unanalyzed at the Pueblo Grande Museum for over 50 years, and results of the analysis are presented here. Comparisons are then made with a large Classic period (A.D. 1150-1400) zooarchaeological assemblage (26,000 specimens) recovered elsewhere at Pueblo Grande and analyzed by the author in another study. Although there are contrasts between the two assemblages that are the result of different recovery methods, other differences appear to be related to habitat degradation and overexploitation of animals in the vicinity of Pueblo Grande. Due to these considerations, the Hohokam inhabitants made changes in their subsistence strategies with regard to animal protein acquisition during the Classic period. 

The WPA excavations in Trash Mound No. 1 also recovered domestic chicken bones, which initially were thought by some researchers to be pre-Spanish in origin. Based on further AMS radiocarbon dating and stable isotope analyses conducted at the University of Arizona Geosciences Laboratory, the chicken bones are not from the late prehistoric or early historic time periods. Results of these findings are discussed in terms of the controversy surrounding proponents who have supported the view that chickens were introduced into the Americas perhaps from Polynesia prior to the arrival of the Spanish Conquistadors in the early 1500s. 

Speaker Steven R. James is Professor of Anthropology and Director of the Archaeological Research Facility in the Archaeology Program within the Division of Anthropology at California State University, Fullerton.  He is an anthropological archaeologist with over 45 years of research and experience primarily in California, the Great Basin, and the American Southwest. His research interests are diverse and include zooarchaeology, human impacts on the environment, pueblo architecture and use of space, and the history of anthropology and archaeology, including 1930s New Deal archaeology in California and the American Southwest.  Dr. James has authored many peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters. His publications include a co-edited book entitled The Archaeology of Global Change: The Impact of Humans on Their Environment published by the Smithsonian Institution Press and a book chapter on prehistoric hunting and fishing patterns in the American Southwest in an edited volume as a Smithsonian Contribution to Knowledge. His recent research involves archaeological investigations in the Flagstaff and Sedona areas of the Colorado Plateau and Verde Valley, in the San Bernardino Mountains of the Mojave Desert, and excavations at a Millingstone Horizon site in Southern California with field classes from Cal State Fullerton. 

Suggested Readings:

James, Steven R.

2003 Hunting and Fishing Patterns Leading to Resource Depletion.  In Centuries of Decline during the Hohokam Classic Period at Pueblo Grande, edited by David Abbott, pp. 70-81. University of Arizona Press, Tucson.

2004 Hunting, Fishing, and Resource Depression: Prehistoric Cultural Impacts on Animals in Southwest North America. In The Archaeology of Global Change: The Impact of Humans on Their Environment, edited by C. L. Redman, S. R. James, P. R. Fish, and J. D. Rogers, pp. 28-62.  Smithsonian Books, Washington, D.C. 

2006 Southwest Animals.  In Handbook of North American Indians, Vol. 3: Environment, Origins, and Population, edited by D. H. Ubelaker, D. Stanford, B. D. Smith, and E. J. E. Szathmáry, pp. 313-330.  Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. 

2011 Prehistoric Hunting and Fishing Patterns in the American Southwest.  In The Subsistence Economies of Indigenous North American Societies: A Handbook, edited by Bruce D. Smith, pp. 185-232.  A Smithsonian Contribution to Knowledge.  Smithsonian Institution Scholarly Press, Washington, D.C.

James, Steven R., and Todd W. Bostwick

2020 Pre-classic Zooarchaeological Assemblage from Trash Mound No.1. In Archaeology of the Pueblo Grande Platform Mound and Surrounding Features, Volume 5: Special Studies, edited by Douglas R. Mitchell, Laurene G. Montero, Todd W. Bostwick, and Lindsey Vogel-Teeter, pp. 209-232. Anthropological Papers No. 1. Pueblo Grande Museum, Phoenix. 


February 15
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm MST
Event Category:


Paul Minnis