Monday, April 18, 2011

Answer to Mystery Archaeology Picture #1

I know that a good number of readers looked at the mystery archaeology picture but I only got two guesses. Oh well. Maybe next time I ought to post something more eye-catching.

Anyway, here is the picture from last time.

I had some good guesses actually. Serapis got it pretty close in terms of geographical location. This is a petroglyph from the American Southwest, specifically from the Petroglyphs National Monument just outside of Albuquerque, New Mexico.

As far as the petroglyphs, they are in fact macaws. The macaw in the lower left is actually in a rectangular cage or pen. This is because macaws are not native to the American Southwest. The closest natural habitat is tropical regions of Mexico and Central America. However, bones and egg shells of macaws have been found throughout the Southwest, meaning that they were traded from distant parts of Mesoamerica and then bred locally. The famous city of Paquimé (aka Casas Grandes) of the Mogollon culture in northern Chihuahua had pens where macaws were kept and bred. No doubt through them these beautiful birds were traded into the Southwest.

Macaws were imported luxury items for the people of the Southwest. Recently, chocolate has also been found in the Southwest (see Prehistoric Americans Traded Chocolate for Turquoise? ). In return they exported turquoise into Mesoamerica, whose cultures revered the blue-green color as symbolic of the nature world.

Cultural exchange likely occurred as well. Balls courts are found in Hohokam sites like Wupatki pueblo. Feathered serpents appear in some Hopi stories. On the other hand, it is less clear what cultural import Mesoamerica got from the Southwest. However, regardless of the exact types of exchange, there was nevertheless a lot of interaction between the two regions.

1 comment:

  1. That's very interesting I wouldn't have thought of an macaw.