The Anasazi Indians and Food

How Did The Anasazi Get Food

It was around 1200 B.C. when the Anasazi started to settle down in one place for extended periods of time. They domesticated and cultivated crops from one year to another. Most of the time, they ate from the few resources that they had. While they were more into consuming agricultural products, they continued to hunt for animals such as rabbits, prairie dogs, mule, deer, elk and antelope.

Basketmaker Period

In this period, the Anasazi grew corn or maize as their primary crop. It was believed that the corn have evolved from teosinte which is a type of wild grass that is native to the present Mexico and Central America. Due to the fact that the climate in the Southwest was much colder and drier compared to Mexico’s, it was thought that the Anasazi may had cross-bred a number of corn varieties and then picked the ones that survived best. Apart from corn, they were also growing squash, another variety from Mexico.

In 500 A.D., the Anasazi added beans to their diet. The longer cooking time quality of the beans as a new dietary item made pottery as an essential element in food storage and cooking.

Sun-Drying and Stone Grounding

Often, the Anasazi would sun-dry their vegetables while many of their food items were being stone-ground. They used the stones mano and metato as primary tools for grinding. The seeds were then parched in hot coals before being ground into meal. Corn was also ground in order to make corn meal. Pine nuts were ground to make a paste. For food storage, the Anasazi used the large pits where the food was usually sealed in baskets. Sometimes, the food is sealed in pottery in order to protect it from moisture, animals and insects.

Irrigation Canals

The Anasazi did not build huge canals for irrigation as compared to the ones built by the Hohokam society. In a usual sense, their collection and diversion of natural precipitation was not irrigation. Generally speaking, their dry land farming depended on the snow and the rain. At Mesa Verde, you can find a 500,000 gallon reservoir, one of the biggest water conservation facility built by the Anasazi.

Animal Hunting

Although they relied heavily on domestic crops, the Anasazi did not abandon the crops of their nomadic ancestors. They also continued to hunt animals and used their meat for food. This include hunting for deer buffalo, prairie dog, mule deer, elk, gophers, cottontail rabbits, prong horn antelope, big horn sheep, domestic turkeys, and more.

Cliff Granaries

The Anasazi built small cliff granaries where they stored surplus harvests for the lean periods. These are mostly maize or corn harvests. One example of their more info ancient storage facilities is the Anasazi Granary that is found in a sheltered alcove in old Cedar Mesa Sandstone, a 260 million year old structure. This structure can be easily accessed on foot and is available to visit as part of the tours organized in the park.

Importing Of Corn

By 1100, the people at Chaco Canyon were at their cultural zenith and held political power over a huge area. However, the land where they lived was too salty for growing staple foods such as beans and corns. This poor soil condition has prevented the crops from producing enough that could feed the masses. Studies on the tree ring also showed that rain was not enough to alleviate the condition. If this is the case, there were either a few people who lived in the valley or they imported corn. Scientists have argued that the second was more likely true.

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