Maya Colonial Subsistence at Hacienda Tabi, Mexico

Project Zooarchaeologist: Michelle LeFebvre

Under Allan Meyers (Comparative Cultures Collegium, Eckerd College), Michelle LeFebvre conducted the first zooarchaeological analysis on faunal samples from the Hacienda Tabi site. This study is unique in that it offers insight into a little studied time period of Mayan colonial and hacienda life in the Yucatan of Mexico, the late

Hacienda Tabi
Photo Credit: Meyers, Allan, 2005. Lost Hacienda. Archaeology Magazine 58(1)

nineteenth century and early twentieth century (Meyers 2005). Overall, the data indicate that medium to large mammals played a prominent role in Maya dietary sustenance. This pattern corresponds with both archaeological and historical understandings of encomienda and hacienda lifeways (see deFrance and Hanson 2008); including a likely mix of domestic and hunted meat consumption. Along with the domestic cow, pig, and cervids identified, it is possible that nine-banded armadillo and iguana were common dietary constituents. However, given the overall diminutive amount of various small mammals, birds, reptiles, shellfish, and land snails in the samples, it may be the case that the presence of these animals is commensal in nature and not directly linked to consumption (except for the likely domestic turkey). Further investigations may shed more light on this tentative suggestion. (Adapted from LeFebvre, M.J. 2009 Hacienda Tabi Faunal Analysis. Report submitted to Allan Meyers, Department of Comparative Cultures Collegium, Eckerd College.)


deFrance, S.D, and C.A. Hanson 2008. Labor, Population Movement, and Food in Sixteenth-Century Ek Balam, Yucatan. Latin American Antiquity 19(3): 299-316.

Meyers, A.D. 2005. Material Expressions of Social Inequality on a Porfirian Sugar Hacienda in Yucatan, Mexico. Historical Archaeology 39(4): 112-137.

Meyers, Allan 2012. Outside the Hacienda Walls: The Archaeology of Plantation Peonage in Nineteenth-Century Yucatan. University of Arizona Press.