The 81st Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2012)


Population health in the early colonial reducción of Magdalena de Cao Viejo

CATHERINE M. GAITHER1, MELISSA S. MURPHY2, JEFFREY QUILTER3, CARRIE BREZINE4 and REGULO FRANCO5.

1Sociology, Anthropology, and Behavioral Sciences, Metropolitan State College of Denver, 2Anthropology, University of Wyoming, 3Peabody Museum, Harvard University, 4Anthropology, University of Michigan, 5Co-Director, El Brujo Archaeological Complex

Saturday 8:15-8:30, Galleria North Add to calendar

Recent research (Klaus and Tam, 2009; Murphy et al. 2010) at early colonial sites in Peru is beginning to elucidate the breadth and depth of the influence of Spanish contact on native Andean populations. Excavations led by Jeffrey Quilter of the Peabody Museum at Harvard, have been proceeding at the site of Magdalena de Cao Viejo, an early colonial reducción, since 2004. In the 2007 and 2008 seasons, 25 burials were excavated from under the floor of the church and the adjacent cemetery. The recovery of these burials helped define changes in mortuary patterns that are consistent with Christian influence, although remnants of textiles wrapped around the bodies suggest a mix of Christianity with native traditions. Osteological analysis of the skeletal materials has allowed for a preliminary estimate of population health and the results indicate generally poor health, which supports the hypothesis that Spanish colonization negatively impacted native population health. Childhood mortality rates are high as are frequencies of trauma associated with physical labor (e.g. tumpline deformation, spondylolisthesis), and non-specific indicators of stress, such as anemia. The results of these analyses will be presented and discussed within the context of the biocultural impact of Spanish occupation on native populations.

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