The 84th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2015)

Early Childhood Health and Status in Tiwanaku Society


Anthropology, University of Vermont

March 27, 2015 9:00, Grand Ballroom C Add to calendar

The Chen Chen site in the Moquegua Valley of Southern Peru is the source of one of the largest archaeological skeletal collections in Peru and has been the focus of significant research into the formation of the Tiwanaku state (AD 500-1100), as it impacted population movement, local identity, and quality of life. A new focus of study in this area is the impact of state and local forces on childhood health and inequality. Linear enamel hypoplasias (LEH) results from poor childhood health and provide a powerful means for addressing these issues. Analysis reveals no significant differences in LEH development by sex, age at death, or cranial modification, but show that individuals living in the lowlands generally have higher rates of LEH than those from the Tiwanaku highland sites. Developmental timing of LEH using methods from Reid and Dean (2000, 2006) indicate that the highest frequencies of LEH development occur later in childhood than that reported for the majority of studies. Using ethnographic parallels and the presence of wooden spoons in the mortuary record, we conclude that the later period of stress observed in this sample may represent the period in a child’s life when they transitioned socially from a protected infant to an older child, exposed to the physical and social stressors of labor. We also present a comparison of data from previous studies using macroscopic recording of linear enamel hypoplasias to those from a new microscopic method using removable dye, which is promising for better discerning defects.

The authors wish to thank the National Science Foundation and the University of Vermont's Office of Undergraduate Research for providing funding for the research.