Bioarchaeology at Las Capas: Uniformity and Continuity within the Early Agricultural Period

Author(s): Rachael Byrd; James Watson

Year: 2015


Investment in cultigens and early irrigation in the Sonoran Desert (circa 3600 BP) signal a major shift in subsistence strategy identified as the Early Agricultural Period (EAP). The EAP is also recognized as a period of significant social transformation, and Las Capas (LCA) has played a critical part in our redefinition of this period. We examine how biocultural signatures from the LCA mortuary sample compare over the site’s occupation and within broader patterns of the EAP. Our results indicate broad-scale uniformity between the early and late components at LCA, and across the entire temporal and spatial distribution of the EAP. Burials are often placed in domestic space, in close proximity to others. Mortuary features are dominated by primary, flexed, inhumation burial; however, body treatment is variable and the placement of funerary objects infrequent. Biological signatures vary in a few cases, likely reflecting subtle difference in behaviors or circumstances at specific sites. Taken as a whole, biocultural signatures at LCA mirror larger trends within, and throughout, the EAP and represent the culmination of significant changes in subsistence strategies and the foundation of technological and social systems of subsequent Formative period societies in the area.

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Cite this Record

Bioarchaeology at Las Capas: Uniformity and Continuity within the Early Agricultural Period. James Watson, Rachael Byrd. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 396945)

Spatial Coverage

min long: -115.532; min lat: 30.676 ; max long: -102.349; max lat: 42.033 ;