Diet in Coastal Arequipa, Peru, at the Dawn of the Wari Empire


Excavations at Uraca, a cemetery in the Majes Valley, Arequipa, Peru, uncovered incomplete human skeletons (MNI = 157) and associated grave goods dating to the Early Intermediate Period and the early Middle Horizon. Interpersonal violence was omnipresent at Uraca: 67 of 100 adults suffered cranial wounds (7 were insults received around the time of death), and 20 individuals were violently decapitated and/or defleshed after death. AMS dates show the individuals buried at Uraca lived from approximately 300 – 650 AD. The terminal portion of this date range corresponds with severe flooding and drought events, as well as the spread of Wari imperial influence throughout southern Peru. To understand whether this violent period is associated with dietary change, we compare childhood and adulthood diets from Uraca individuals to those from contemporaneous neighboring sites, such as Beringa. We compare stable carbon isotope ratios from dental enamel samples at Uraca, which show C4 plant consumption during childhood. We also reconstruct Uraca diet based on stable carbon and nitrogen isotopes from bone collagen, which reflect late-life diet. If dietary differences from childhood to adulthood correlate with cranial injuries, then food inequality or food insecurity may explain the intense outbreak of violence-related trauma at Uraca.

Cite this Record

Diet in Coastal Arequipa, Peru, at the Dawn of the Wari Empire. Beth K. Scaffidi, Natasha P. Vang, Tiffiny A. Tung. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 430230)

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Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 17576