Project Archaeologist: Randee Fladeboe

The rGreen Macaw - ARA Project in Punta Islitaemains of tropical macaws – genus Ara – have been widely found at several major pre-Hispanic sites in the Greater Southwest, as have remains of aviaries where live macaws were kept. Archaeologists generally view these animals as trade valuables, with ceremonial significance linked to their species origin in southern Mexico. Little attention has been paid to how these macaws were cared for in life by their human keepers. In order to get a comprehensive picture of macaw health, this project reconstructs the chain of events that composed the lives of 440 macaws from 25 archaeological sites, through osteological analysis and radiographic scanning of their skeletal remains, and detailed archaeological investigation of the spaces within which they lived and were laid to rest. This information will settle several long-standing questions about causes of macaw pathology and age at death, and combined with ongoing ethnographic and iconographic research, enable the reconstruction of past macaw husbandry practices in different times and places. Map of the Greater Southwest

Theoretically inspired by exploration into the relational ontologies of Native American peoples, this project informs anthropological archaeology through its use of interdisciplinary research and its creative use of new technology to address gaps in previous knowledge.

pathological ulnae
Pathological macaw ulnae
Ct scan cranium
CT scan of a macaw cranium with indication of the variation of bone density


Assemblages, curation facilities, and progress of acquisition

Site Culture Period # Macaws Institution Acquisition
Pueblo Bonito Pueblo 900-1150 16 AMNH granted
  Pueblo 900-1150 17 NMNH pending
Pueblo Arroyo Pueblo 900-1150 2 NMNH pending
Aztec Pueblo Pueblo 1100-1250 1 AMNH granted
Pecos Pueblo Pueblo 1300-1600 2 NMNH pending
Arroyo Hondo Pueblo 1300-1430 3 SAR pending
Wupatki Pueblo-Sinagua 1130-1225 18 MNA granted
Nalakihu Pueblo-Sinagua 1100-1250 1 MNA granted
Ridge Ruin Pueblo-Sinagua 1150-1200 3 MNA pending
Montezuma Castle Pueblo-Sinagua 1125-1220 1 WACC pending
Elden Pueblo Pueblo-Sinagua 1100-1275 2 MNA pending
Winona Village Pueblo-Sinagua 1100-1250 1 MNA pending
Tuzigoot Pueblo Pueblo-Sinagua 1125-1400 1 NPS pending
Pollack Pueblo-Sinagua 1200-1300 1 MNA pending
Homol’ovi III Pueblo-Sinagua 1200-1400 2 ASM pending
Gila Cliff Dwellings Mogollon 900-1150 2 NPS pending
Turkey Creek Mogollon 1100-1200 12 ASM pending
Grasshopper Pueblo Mogollon 1250-1300 15 ASM pending
Kinishba Pueblo Mogollon 1250-1300 4 ASM pending
Point of Pines Mogollon 1200-1450 27 ASM pending
Wind Mountain Mimbres 550-1150 1 AF granted
Galaz Mimbres 1000-1150 4 HUM pending
Mitchell Mimbres 1125-1220 2 MMA granted
Old Town Mimbres 1100-1200 4 MIAC pending
Freeman Ranch Mimbres 1150-1200 1 ASM pending
Paquimé Casas Grandes 1250-1450 300 INAH pending



INAH support letter