Where do rabbits go when they die? In the case of ancient rabbits from Pueblo Grande, many ended up in large middens (trash piles) after they found their way into the dinner bowls of pre-Hispanic Hohokam families. In fact, since cows, chickens, or goats didn’t arrive in Arizona until after the 16th century, rabbits were the most common source of protein for Pueblo Grande’s original residents. Thousands of rabbit bones were discovered during decades of archaeological excavations. Each bone has been carefully cleaned, cataloged, and preserved in the collections of Pueblo Grande museum.
|Photo of excavations of Trash Mound 1. Taken by Dana Goddu on 13-Jan-1939. |
Hundreds of rabbit bones were discovered during excavation of this midden.
|Rabbit and Jackrabbit femora|
Because Pueblo Grande was inhabited for such an extended period of time, and because rabbits were regular menu items throughout its occupation, we can study how isotope ratios of oxygen, nitrogen, and carbon changed in rabbit bones through time, thus allowing us to study how humidity, rainfall, and plant cover in the area changed through time. Working with Collections Curator Holly Young and Collections Aide Lindsey Vogel, I selected a sample of rabbit bones that spans 700 years of Pueblo Grande’s history. These bones provide an excellent opportunity to study long-term interactions between ancient Hohokam society and the local environment.
Posted By Andrew Somerville
Ph.D. Candidate in Biological Anthropology
University of California, San Diego