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

A bioarchaeological approach to interethnic contact in Tierra del Fuego, Argentina (19th-20th centuries)


1Lab. Ecología Evolutiva Humana, FACSO, UNCPBA and Dpto. Biología, FCEyN, UNMDP, CONICET, 2Lab. Ecología Evolutiva Humana; FACSO, UNCPBA, 3IMHICIHU, CONICET, 4CEHis, Dpto. Historia, Facultad de Humanidades, UNMdP, CONICET, 5Facultad de Ciencias Sociales, UNCPBA

Saturday 8:30-8:45, Galleria North Add to calendar

The analysis of the cultural and biological changes which came about in Southern Patagonia as a result of interethnic contact offers an interesting case study for bioarchaeologists dealing with colonial contexts in the Americas. The interdisciplinary research conducted at the cemetery of the Salesian Mission La Candelaria provides relevant information on the multiple interactions which took place among religious communities, native people and other social actors in Tierra del Fuego, in the late 19th and the late 20th centuries. Historical sources inform that tuberculosis was the major death cause among native people living in La Candelaria. The epidemiological history of Tierra del Fuego poses some questions about the origins and the spread of tuberculosis in Patagonia. In the site of Myren (Chile), archaeologists reported a possible case of tuberculosis dated to 640±20 BP. In addition to this, researchers have recently found a kind of tuberculosis which can be transmitted from pinnipeds to humans. Starting in 2006, excavations at the cemetery of La Candelaria allowed to recover information from 21 individuals. Researchers are particularly interested in the characteristics of the burials and the paleopathological condition of the bodies. The project has obtained seven stable-isotope determinations; and it is presently working on the molecular analysis of TB and haplogroups together with Anne Stone. The comparison with pre and post contact information proves relevant, and it is part of the research agenda. The project is also trying to preserve and enhance the history of La Candelaria, counting on the participation of local actors.

PICT 01520 (2007-10), PICT 0575 (2011-23) and CONICET.

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