AviCulture: The role of birds in sustainable urban subsistence at Teotihuacan Mexico

Lessons from Mesoamerican cities are well-suited to address many problems with feeding urban populations today, as large cities thrived in this region in the absence of large, domesticated animals. While we know that residents of Teotihuacan consumed a plant-heavy diet, supplemented with wild animals harvested from local ecosystems and some husbandry of small animals, like turkeys, there are still many gaps in our understanding of Teotihuacan’s food production system. AviCulture tests two hypotheses to better our understanding of sustainable food production in the city.

  1. Residents practiced low-intensity husbandry of turkeys and quails at the household level.
  2. Aquatic birds, a proxy for lake exploitation, were more important to urban subsistence than current evidence suggests.

The project will test these hypotheses across multiple assemblages at the city by integrating common zooarchaeological analysis with proteomic analysis to improve taxonomic identification of bone and egg remains and examining eggshells to assess embryonic development. The findings of this research will speak to the organisation of two important food production strategies for the city and highlight the importance of avian fauna and lacustrine resources in  investigating the development of urban economies during the classic period.

Funded by

Horizon Europe Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Postdoctoral Fellowship.

Principal Investigator
  • Dr. Maria C. Codlin, University of Turin
  • Prof. Beatrice Demarchi, University of Turin
Co-Investigators & collaborators

Josefin Stiller (University of Copenhagen), Joaquin Arroyo-Cabrales (Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, México)