Paleodiet in the Atacama Desert (Arica, Chile) and Andean Highlands (Ayacucho Basin, Peru) Using Stable Isotope Analyses of Dental Calculus
Long-considered a nuisance, dental calculus has recently enjoyed attention as a potentially useful alternative biomaterial for a variety of anthropological applications, including stable isotope analysis as a technique to study paleodiet. Carbon and nitrogen stable isotopes of dental calculus have been measured for populations near Arica, Chile in the Atacama Desert (Archaic-Late Intermediate period), and post-Wari (Late Intermediate Period) populations from the Ayacucho Basin, Peru in the Andean Highlands.
The Arica analyses are characterized by very heavy δ15N compositions, from +17.8 to +33.1‰. These values can be explained, in part, by a diet with significant components of isotopically heavy marine resources and plants with δ15N shifted towards heavy values due to the hyper-aridity of the Atacama Desert. The heaviest δ15N values suggest the use of locally-derived isotopically heavy guano as a fertilizer during crop cultivation. The Ayacucho analyses show δ13C values ranging up to -12.3‰, consistent with the use of C4 plants as a major component of diet. δ15N values range up to +18.8‰, and as the site location likely precludes the use of marine resources, the heaviest values suggest the possibility of aridity-driven isotope enrichment and/or the use of camelid dung as a fertilizer during crop cultivation.
This Resource is Part of the Following Collections
- Evolutionary Adaptations and Population History of the Atacama Desert •
- Society for American Archaeology 82nd Annual Meeting, Vancouver, BC (2017)
Cite this Record
Paleodiet in the Atacama Desert (Arica, Chile) and Andean Highlands (Ayacucho Basin, Peru) Using Stable Isotope Analyses of Dental Calculus. Simon Poulson, Susan C. Kuzminsky, G. Richard Scott, Tiffiny A. Tung. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431021)
min long: -93.691; min lat: -56.945 ; max long: -31.113; max lat: 18.48 ;
Abstract Id(s): 15566