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

Diet, Mobility, and Pathology in Colonial-Period Northern Coastal Peru: Temporal and Site-Specific Variation


1Department of Anthropology, Georgia State University, 2Department of Sociology and Anthropology, George Mason University

March 27, 2015 10:30, Grand Ballroom C Add to calendar

An impressive body of bioarchaeological research has examined processes of population decline, morbidity, and subjugation throughout North America following conquest by Europeans. Comparatively little work has been done studying the same processes in Andean South America, which boasted the largest pre-contact indigenous states in the Western Hemisphere. This study aims to assess biocultural impacts of colonization in Lambayeque, north coastal Peru, by comparing stable isotopic measures of diet and residential mobility, and skeletal pathological conditions, among individuals interred at the Early/Middle Colonial Period (A.D. 1533-1620) Chapel of El Niño Serranito, Eten (CNS; N=76), the Middle/Late Colonial Period (A.D. 1620-1760) Capilla de Santa María Magdalena de Eten (CSMME; N=46), and San Pedro de Mórrope (SPM; N=27). The occupation at SPM spans A.D. 1536-1750; however, this sample dates to the Middle/Late Colonial Period.

People from CNS exhibited the highest overall carbonate and collagen δ13C values, carbonate δ18O values nearly identical to those from SPM, and the lowest frequencies of pathological conditions. Individuals from CSMME exhibit lower overall diet variation, higher mean δ13C and δ15N values, and lower frequencies of pathological conditions relative to those from contemporaneous SPM. These results suggest subtle, non-uniform dietary shifts between the Early and Late Colonial periods. Comparing δ13C and δ18O between enamel and bone among CNS and CSMME individuals also suggests varied changes across lifespans. Overall, this study highlights variation in lived experiences and microenvironments over the course of Spanish colonization in Peru, raising new questions in the study of this tumultuous adaptive transition in the Americas.