A macaw skull found two years ago in a cave in Chihuahua has been identified as being 2,000 years old and is the first archaeological hint of macaw trade in the greater Chihuahua-New Mexico region.
Macaw trade in the region was frequent, with the first archaeological records having been found in Cameron Creek, New Mexico. They dated back to 800 to 900 AD.
By the years 1200 to 1400, the city of Paquimé in what is now Chihuahua dominated the trade with the opening of several macaw hatcheries.
The colorful plumage of the tropical birds made them valuable among communities in northwestern Mexico and the southeastern United States.
The bones of just over 670 macaw specimens have been found in that region, 504 of them in Paquimé.
The mummified skull found in the Avendaños cave in Chihuahua in 2016 is not only remarkable for its age, but for its location, too, as it is the first evidence of macaws to be found outside Paquimé on the Mexican side of the border.
Found with it were pottery items and tools that, given their shape, could be from between 6000 and 1000 BC.
Specialists believe the cave could have been occupied between 2500 BC and 500 AD.
Further analyses of the bone remains and other archaeological pieces are being conducted at the Accelerator Mass Spectrometer Laboratory, Pennsylvania State University, in collaboration with the School of Anthropology and Story of Northern México (EAHNM).
If confirmed, the Avendaños macaw skull find will predate all other similar archaeological discoveries by a good 800 years.
Source: Notimex (sp)