The ritual importance of birds in 14th-century central New Mexico

Suzanne L. Eckert, Tiffany Clark

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


The Pueblo IV period (AD 1300-1450/1500) in the American Southwest witnessed the development of a number of new ritual systems in both the Western and Eastern Pueblo areas. Although associated with a diverse array of material culture, one of the most prominent aspects of these religious ideologies was the adoption of a complex of icons focusing on fertility, weather control, and community well being. Key among these motifs were birds, which appear to have played a central role in the materialization of these new ideological systems. In this paper, we evaluate the changing importance of avifauna in the ritual systems that were adopted in the 14th century in the Lower Rio Puerco area of New Mexico. Relying on ceramic, architectural, and faunal data from Pottery Mound (LA 416) and Hummingbird Pueblo (LA 578), we argue that both the imagery and use of birds in ritual contexts increased substantially at the two villages during the 14th century. These developments correspond to a new religious ideology that served to integrate the diverse populations that had aggregated in the Lower Rio Puerco area in the late 1200s.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8-27
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Ethnobiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2009


  • archaeology
  • birds
  • iconography
  • pueblo
  • religion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Anthropology
  • Plant Science


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