Peoples of the Mesa Verde Region

The Pueblo II Period: A.D. 900 to 1150



Turkey. Pen-and-ink drawing by Lee R. Schmidlap, Jr.

Pueblo people began eating domesticated turkey during the Pueblo II period.

Corn, beans, and squash. Photos by Joyce Heuman Kramer; copyright Crow Canyon Archaeological Center.

Corn, beans, and squash formed the foundation of the Pueblo II diet.

During the Pueblo II period, people continued to rely heavily on domesticated corn, beans, and squash. In addition, they began eating domesticated turkey for the first time. Originally introduced during the late Basketmaker II period, domesticated turkey had been raised primarily for its feathers and bones. But as wild game, such as deer, grew scarcer, people began relying on domesticated turkey as a source of meat protein. They fed the turkeys corn, which meant they had to grow enough corn to feed not only themselves but their flocks as well.

This ever-increasing reliance on agriculture made the people more vulnerable to drought and other climatic changes that affected the amount of food, especially corn, that could be grown. So, beginning in the Pueblo II period, people began to construct reservoirs, checkdams, and farming terraces in an effort to capture and conserve water for agricultural use. Checkdams and terraces were used not only for water control, but for soil conservation as well, because they prevented the topsoil from washing away.

Even as some wild resources became scarcer, people continued to supplement their diet with them. In fact, archaeologists think Pueblo people probably had an efficient strategy that combined hunting, gathering, and farming. Corn, bean, and squash plants would have attracted deer, rabbits, and rodents to agricultural fields, making them easy prey for anyone tending the crops. And certain edible weeds that thrive in the disturbed soil of gardens could have easily been harvested during routine weeding.

Learn more . . .

Read about Goodman Lake, an ancient Pueblo reservoir that still fills with water today!