The 82nd Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2013)

Regional Integration, Subsistence, and Health During the Formative Period in the Lake Titicaca Basin


1Anthropology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, 2Research Laboratories of Archaeology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, 3Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Social Work, Central Michigan University, 4Office of the Attorney General, State of Florida, 5Anthropology, University of Florida

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The Middle Formative Period (800-100 B.C.) in Bolivia was characterized by the emergence of complex societies, regional integration, and an increase in long-distance trade. Central to the regional integration of the Middle Formative was a ritual tradition known as the Yaya-Mama. In this presentation, we address two principle hypotheses: 1) maize was a dietary component during the Middle Formative, and 2) that maize consumption varied between individuals interred in temple contexts, perhaps as part of ritual activities, as compared to those interred elsewhere. Burials from one temple and three non-temple sites were examined dating between 550 B.C. and 10 B.C. Stable carbon Δ13C ca-co signatures for all Yaya-Mama A-C individuals (6.2), reflective of whole diet, suggest that maize may have been consumed, although not as a dietary staple. Pathological lesion rates would seem to support such an observation. While carious lesions (49% of all Yaya-Mama A-C individuals) are common, the frequency is not overwhelming. Differences in the nitrogen and carbon signatures of temple individuals (δ15N=8.6; Δ13C ca-co=6.4) as compared to those not interred in temples (δ15N=7.8; Δ13C ca-co=5.7) would suggest that those two broad groups had different diets. Higher rates of carious lesions (51%) for Ch’isi temple individuals as compared to those who were not interred in the temple (38%) would also suggest a diet which incorporated additional enriched plant foods, potentially maize.

Funding for the archaeology of the project was provided by grants from The National Geographic Society and Central Michigan University. Funding for the stable isotope and pathology analyses was provided by grants from East Carolina University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the Wenner-Gren Foundation.

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