Investigating human responses to political and environmental change through paleodiet and paleomobility

Kelly Knudson, Christina Torres-Rouff, Christopher Stojanowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations

Abstract

Bioarchaeological approaches are well suited for examining past responses to political and environmental changes. In the Andes, we hypothesized that political and environmental changes around AD 1100 resulted in behavioral changes, visible as shifts in paleodiet and paleomobility, among individuals in the San Pedro de Atacama oases and Loa River Valley. To investigate this hypothesis, we generated carbon and oxygen isotope data from cemeteries dating to the early Middle Horizon (Larache, Quitor-5, Solor-3), late Middle Horizon (Casa Parroquial, Coyo Oriental, Coyo-3, Solcor-Plaza, Solcor-3, Tchecar), and Late Intermediate Period (Caspana, Quitor-6 Tardío, Toconce, Yaye-1, Yaye-2, Yaye-3, Yaye-4). Carbon isotope data demonstrate a greater range of carbon sources during the late Middle Horizon compared with the Late Intermediate Period; while most individuals consumed largely C3 sources, some late Middle Horizon individuals consumed more C4 sources. Oxygen isotope data demonstrate greater diversity in drinking water sources during the late Middle Horizon compared with the Late Intermediate Period. Water samples were analyzed to provide baseline data on oxygen isotope variability within the Atacama Desert, and demonstrated that oxygen isotope values are indistinguishable in the San Pedro and Loa Rivers. However, oxygen isotope values in water sources in the high-altitude altiplano and coast are distinct from those in the San Pedro and Loa Rivers. In conclusion, instead of utilizing a wider variety of resources after environmental and political changes, individuals exhibited a wider range of paleodietary and paleomobility strategies during the Middle Horizon, a period of environmental and political stability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)179-201
Number of pages23
JournalAmerican journal of physical anthropology
Volume157
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2015

Keywords

  • Chile
  • Late Intermediate Period
  • Middle Horizon
  • San Pedro de Atacama
  • carbon isotope analysis
  • oxygen isotope analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Anthropology

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