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Epidemiological Crisis with Imperial Collapse? Investigating the Osteological Evidence for Bacterial Infections among post-Wari Communities in the Peruvian Andes

Author(s): Elizabeth Nelson ; Emily Sharp ; Tiffiny Tung

Year: 2016

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Summary

The socio-political decline of the Wari Empire and a severe drought ca. AD 1000/1100 led to significant changes in health among those who lived in the former imperial core. The political turmoil, social upheaval, and prolonged drought coalesced to create poor community health. Infectious disease appears to have been an aspect of morbidity that dramatically changed relative to the preceding era of Wari rule. Here we examine the skeletal evidence for bacterial infections among post-Wari populations from the former capital city (Huari). Because human remains were commingled, we observed each category of skeletal elements for lesions, documenting that, among all ages combined, 11/2532 ribs (.4%) and 82/1777 thoracic vertebrae (5%) exhibit lesions suggestive of brucellosis and/or tuberculosis. Juvenile remains present a higher prevalence: 79/342 thoracic vertebrae (23%) exhibit those lesions. Consistent with expectations of how socio-political decline and ecological stress can contribute to negative health outcomes, these lesions appear only in the post-Wari samples; they are absent in the approximately 300 individuals from the preceding Wari era (Tung 2012). This suggests the development and/or increased transfer of these infectious diseases in response to changes in political and environmental conditions.


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Epidemiological Crisis with Imperial Collapse? Investigating the Osteological Evidence for Bacterial Infections among post-Wari Communities in the Peruvian Andes. Elizabeth Nelson, Emily Sharp, Tiffiny Tung. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 405008)


Keywords

Geographic Keywords
South America


Spatial Coverage

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

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