What is this bird? The quest to identify parrot remains from the Heyward-Washington House, Charleston, South Carolina

Martha A. Zierden, Elizabeth J. Reitz, Barnet Pavao-Zuckerman, Laurie J. Reitsema, Bruce L. Manzano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Excavations in the 1970s at the ca. 1772 Heyward-Washington House in Charleston, South Carolina, produced a rich and diverse archaeological assemblage spanning the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Among the vertebrate remains are four bones from a large member of the parrot family. We now believe the bird was a blue-fronted or turquoise-fronted amazon parrot (Psittacidae: Amazona aestiva), an animal originating in South America. Over the decades, we have studied the zooarchaeological signature of social identity in Charleston, the evolving urban environment, and the vast trade networks of the colonial port city, all of which are embodied in the remains of this single bird. The parrot leads to a discussion of social roles of captive birds in early Charleston, the eclectic interests of city residents, and the city’s global trade networks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalSoutheastern Archaeology
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2018
Externally publishedYes



  • Amazon parrot
  • pets
  • social identity
  • trade networks
  • urban environments

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology

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