Interpreting Increments – What Can Isotopic Evidence Tell Us about Care in the Past?


Maternal and infant care practices are deeply individual, as well as being affected by both cultural and environmental factors. Disentangling the various processes which lead to decision-making in the past is difficult, and bioarchaeologists must use multiple lines of evidence to begin to understand behaviours. New incremental isotopic techniques mean that it is now possible to look at individual maternal and infant experiences through tissue chemistry. However, incremental isotopic results are equifinal meaning that multiple interpretations of the data are often possible. This talk will focus on a group (n=5) of incremental isotopic profiles from infants and children from the Inka period site of Camarones 9 in northern Chile. Using these profiles, we will explore how knowledge of the archaeological context, biological factors which may affect isotopic values and consideration of sociocultural theory may allow better interpretation of results. In doing so, we highlight the different maternal and infant experiences seen in individuals from the same archaeological period, and the importance of the individual in archaeology.

Cite this Record

Interpreting Increments – What Can Isotopic Evidence Tell Us about Care in the Past?. Charlotte King, Sian Halcrow, Andrew Millard, Vivien Standen, Bernardo Arriaza. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 443689)

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min long: -82.441; min lat: -56.17 ; max long: -64.863; max lat: 16.636 ;

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Abstract Id(s): 20082