New research explores how fish became a bigger part of pueblo people’s diet – UNM Newsroom

Many people believe that Ancestral Pueblo diets were almost solely dominated by run-of-the-mill foods like maize and rabbits. But archaeologists are turning that stereotype around.

In early archaeological sites in the Middle Rio Grande basin of central New Mexico, finding remains of fishes that people had used for food is rare. But in later pre-Hispanic and early historic sites, archaeologists see an uptick in the use of fishes. In his latest published research, Jonathan Dombrosky, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Anthropology at The University of New Mexico, examined how a change in climate may have changed the diets of Ancestral Pueblo people.

The recently published paper Resource risk and stability in the zooarchaeological record: the case of Pueblo fishing in the Middle Rio Grande, New Mexico in Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences is the first article to come out for Dombrosky’s dissertation and is related to a $30,298 National Science Foundation grant he received to further research the impact of a changing environment on the incorporation of new foods into human diets.

Dombrosky thinks that as the climate changed and conditions became wetter, it became easier for Ancestral Pueblo people to rely on fish as a food source.

“In the article, we try to answer why different human groups in the past might incorporate a small amount of different wild animals into their diet. Normally, archaeologists assume that people select food based on how much of it there is or how large it is. The idea here is that
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