Several fossilized remains found in Oaxaca, Mexico prove that turkeys were domesticated a long time ago on the North American continent than previously, though.
A team of scientist from the University North Carolina and the Field Museum of Chicago unearthed the remains of three adult turkeys, several eggshells fragments, and five unhatched eggs.
According to the archeologists, the turkey fossils were discovered in the vicinity of two houses, recently discovered at the Zapotecan site in Oaxaca, which also bears the name of Mitla Fortress. Heather Lapham is the archeologist who uncovered the turkey fossils.
Graham declared that while investigating the two hovels in Mitla Fortress, which date back to 300 – 1200 AD, she and her team discovered a sepulcher containing the skeletons of three adult turkeys, several eggshell fragments, five undamaged eggs, and seven turkey chicks.
In addition, Graham also pointed out that the tomb contained other items as well, which might have been used in some sort of ritual. Apart from the fossilized turkeys, the archeologist, and her team also found two daggers carved from obsidian.
Graham noted that the presence of the obsidian daggers in the tombs is not arbitrary. As the researcher argued, turkeys were not only a source of food, but they were an important part of many rituals. For example, Graham said that Zapotec people used turkey bones to fashion jewelry and tools. In addition, turkey feathers were often employed as house ornaments.
As for the religious implication of the turkey, the Aztec associated the black turkey with the god Tezcatlipoca, the Aztec version of Loki, the Norse, trickster god.
Although Zapotec people do not sacrifice turkeys for the Gods, they still cook them on specials occasions such as religious festivals, weddings, birthdays, and baptisms.
The study’s findings were recently published in the Journal of Archeological Science: Reports. The paper offers many clues as to the origin of the bones and why they were placed in the tomb, in close proximity to the two hovels.
The archaeologists who made the discovery argued that the turkey remains and the two obsidian daggers probably belong to the families living in the two hovels, and that the tomb was probably a sacrificial pit.
At the moment, the team is still investigation the Zapotec site to see if they can discover similar structures.
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