Landscape and Dietary Change in Formative Period Coastal Oaxaca


This paper presents the results of an isotopic study of human dietary change during the Formative period (2000 BCE-300 CE) in the lower Río Verde Valley of Oaxaca. Approximately 60 individuals were sampled for δ13C and δ15N using both teeth and long bones. The study examines trends in the consumption of maize and marine/estuarine resources relative to regional environmental change. Interdisciplinary research along the drainage system indicates that environmental change in the lower Verde was triggered by anthropogenic landscape change in the highlands. Geomorphological research in the Nochixtlán Valley in the Verde’s upper drainage basin provides evidence for anthropogenic erosion due to land clearance for agriculture beginning in the Early Formative period. Paleoenvironmental research in the lower valley shows that the erosion in the highlands altered the drainage system, which led to an expansion of the agriculturally productive floodplain. Sediment discharged into the Pacific Ocean also contributed to the formation of bay barriers and back barrier estuaries. The expansion of the floodplain and the formation of the estuaries created highly productive habitats that may have contributed to population growth and dietary change. The isotopic study evaluates how human diet was affected by the changes in lowland environments.

Cite this Record

Landscape and Dietary Change in Formative Period Coastal Oaxaca. Arthur Joyce, Sarah Barber, Guy Hepp, Paul Sandberg, Michelle Butler. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431066)


Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

min long: -107.271; min lat: 12.383 ; max long: -86.353; max lat: 23.08 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 14469