By Johnny Gibbons
“The first evidence we have that turkeys were kept and bred by humans comes from Tehuacan in Mexico about 2000 years ago” Smith says. “By around A.D. 500 turkeys were also being raised by Native Americas in the Southwest United States, based on early evidence recovered from cave sites such as Tseahatso in Arizona’s Canyon del Muerto and the Tularosa Cave in New Mexico.”
By examining clues such as cut marks, fragmented bones, burning, and disposal of bones in trash middens, scientists have determined that raising turkeys domestically for food became widespread across the Southwest after A.D. 900. It took another 900 years, however, for the turkey to find its way to the Thanksgiving dinner table as a holiday staple.
Below: "The remains of a headless turkey excavated at the site of Casas Grandes, Chihuahua. Turkeys were apparently frequently sacrificed as part of dedication ceremonies for buildings and plazas at the site." (Alfred Cohn)