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Temporal Trends in Reliance on Maize among Ancestral Huron-Wendat Villages, as reflected in δ13C from Human Enamel

Author(s): Judith C. Sealy ; Susan Pfeiffer ; Ronald F. Williamson

Year: 2015

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Following the entry of Zea mays to northeast North America, there are indications of human population growth, suggesting crop intensification. Isotopic values from bone collagen have been inconsistent with this hypothesis, showing temporal and regional fluctuations that have led to hypotheses of sporadic overreliance on this super-crop. Following Katzenberg’s suggestion that intake of this carbohydrate should be measured through apatite rather than protein tissue, and with the permission of the Huron-Wendat Nation of Wendake, Quebec, we measured tooth enamel δ13C from 167 permanent tooth crowns (most M1), retained after reburial of the skeletons. Enamel values encapsulate diet from early childhood (3 to 4 years of age). The teeth represent 16 ancestral Huron-Wendat sites in southern Ontario. Isotopic values show a gradual increase in reliance on maize from the 14th to 17th centuries, perhaps reflecting development of crop strains that were more reliable at higher latitudes. This pattern of δ13C temporal enrichment is not apparent in bone collagen (n=56). Consumption of lake and river fish, known to have been important for these communities, likely complicates collagen δ13C values.

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Temporal Trends in Reliance on Maize among Ancestral Huron-Wendat Villages, as reflected in δ13C from Human Enamel. Susan Pfeiffer, Judith C. Sealy, Ronald F. Williamson. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 397513)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -142.471; min lat: 42.033 ; max long: -47.725; max lat: 74.402 ;

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America