Infectious Diseases within the Tiwanaku Periphery

Author(s): Allisen Dahlstedt

Year: 2015


Today, infectious diseases, such as tuberculosis, devastate millions of lives annually. The prehistoric prevalence and distribution of such infectious diseases provide context for their modern (re-)emergence, spread, and associated social perceptions, as well as inform the experiences of individuals in the past. Here I examine the expression and distribution of pathological lesions on the skeletal remains of 143 individuals from Omo M10, a Tiwanaku migrant community in Moquegua, Peru. The Middle Horizon (500-1000AD) was a time of population growth and early state expansion in the south-central Andes. During this period, individuals moved between the Tiwanaku capital in Bolivia and peripheral sites in southern Peru, likely to gain access to fertile agricultural land. Infectious diseases often appear and spread with such population growth and increased human interaction, among other environmental and behavioral factors. Differential diagnoses reveal several probable cases of infectious diseases, including human treponematosis and tuberculosis. The presence of Pott’s disease supports the relatively early presence of tuberculosis in southern Peru. These results encourage future research examining social perceptions of these illnesses expressed in mortuary contexts. The integration of future isotopic analyses can additionally inform the potential spread of these diseases through the residential mobility of infected individuals.

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Infectious Diseases within the Tiwanaku Periphery. Allisen Dahlstedt. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 397976)

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min long: -93.691; min lat: -56.945 ; max long: -31.113; max lat: 18.48 ;