Tiwanaku influence and social inequality: A bioarchaeological, biogeochemical, and contextual analysis of the Larache cemetery, San Pedro de Atacama, Northern Chile

Christina Torres-Rouff, Kelly J. Knudson, William Pestle, Emily M. Stovel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objectives To assess the relationship between the Tiwanaku polity and the individuals buried at the Middle Horizon (∼AD500-1000) cemetery of Larache in northern Chile, a site that has been singled out as a potential elite foreign enclave. Materials and Methods We explore this association through the skeletal remains of 48 individuals interred at the cemetery of Larache using bioarchaeological, biogeochemical, and artifactual evidence. Data from cranial modification practices, violent injury, and the mortuary assemblage are used to explore culturally constructed elements of status and identity, radiogenic strontium isotope analyses provide us with a perspective on the geographic origins of these individuals, and stable carbon and nitrogen analyses allow discussion of paleodiet and access to resources. Results Radiogenic strontium isotope values show the presence of multiple first generation migrants at Larache. Stable carbon and nitrogen isotope data reveal significant differences among individuals. The mortuary context reveals a standard pattern for the oases but also includes a series of unusual burials with abundant gold and few other objects. Interestingly, both local and nonlocal individuals with different head shapes had access to the differentiated burial context; however nonlocal individuals appear to be the only ones with a heavily maize-based diet. Conclusions Our evidence shows that Larache served as a burial place for a diverse, yet culturally integrated and potentially elite segment of the Atacameño population, but not a foreign enclave as had been postulated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)592-606
Number of pages15
JournalAmerican Journal of Physical Anthropology
Volume158
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015

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Keywords

  • Andes
  • Middle Horizon
  • radiogenic strontium analyses
  • stable carbon isotope analysis
  • stable nitrogen isotope analyses

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Medicine(all)
  • Anthropology

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