The Pastoral Niche in Pre-Hispanic Mesoamerica

  • Jeffrey R. Parsons


Mesoamerica was the world’s only ancient primary civilization that lacked a domestic herbivore. With domestic camelids (llamas and alpacas) in Andean South America, and sheep and goats, cattle, camels, horses, yaks, and water buffalo in the Old World, food producers in virtually all other regions where Archaic States existed were able to significantly extend their productive landscapes into drier and colder zones and over a full annual cycle – i.e., some of them became full- or part-time herders, and herder–cultivator relationships became important in the long-term development of socio-political complexity. Furthermore, protein from domesticated animal sources would have been scarce in Pre-Hispanic Mesoamerica by comparison to other parts of the ancient urbanized world. How could ancient Mesoamericans, with their seemingly much more limited capacity to generate and manipulate energy, have attained such a comparably high level of organizational complexity and population density?


Aquatic Insect Sixteenth Century Seed Crop Aquatic Product Aquatic Resource 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeffrey R. Parsons
    • 1
  1. 1.Museum of AnthropologyUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

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