Identity, Residential Mobility and Anthropogenic Lead in early colonial Huamanga (Ayacucho), Peru


La Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesús de Huamanga, the earliest Jesuit church in modern-day Ayacucho, Peru, was built in AD 1605 near the main plaza. Famous for its baroque art, this standing church is in need of extensive renovations. In a partial restoration in 2008, an archaeological excavation uncovered human and faunal remains underneath the church floor proper, and underneath the floors of associated chapels. Upon examination, only indigenous individuals appear to be buried underneath the church floors; significantly, few individuals show signs of stress or disease. Likewise, ethnohistorical documents show indigenous Peruvians using the Spanish legal system, church service and labor agreements to evade forced labor at the mines of Huancavelica and Potosi, among others. Analyses of strontium isotopes reveal that one-third of the individuals were not born locally, correlating with census records documenting rural migration into the city. Lead isotope results are narrow and lead concentrations are high, indicating the presence of anthropogenic lead, potentially resulting from pollution caused by extensive mining during the period. These data argue that indigenous people actively shaped their lives through migration and used Spanish religious and legal systems to avoid the harshest occupations, thus moving beyond the stereotypical Black Legend trope.

Cite this Record

Identity, Residential Mobility and Anthropogenic Lead in early colonial Huamanga (Ayacucho), Peru. Ellen Lofaro, George Kamenov, Jorge Luis Soto Maguino, John Krigbaum. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431083)

Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 15846