Nutritional Stress and the Maternal-Infant Nexus: Insights from Isotopes and Paleopathology in the Ancient Chilean Atacama (ca 9000–1500 BP)
The Atacama Desert is a remarkably marginal environment. Children are vulnerable individuals and the perinatal and weaning periods are high-risk even under ideal conditions. Investigation of stress during early life is therefore vital to the characterisation of human adaptation in this region. We compared isotopic evidence for infant diet and stress with paleopathological data to assess potential changes in maternal and infant health between the pre-agricultural Archaic Period (9000 – 3500 BP) and early agricultural Formative Period (3500-1500 BP). Incremental isotopic analysis (∂N and ∂C) was conducted on 14 individuals. Results show an increase in nitrogen isotope values suggestive of maternal stress during in utero development between the Archaic and Formative Periods. Additionally, 57% of Formative Period children analysed have carbon isotope values consistent with the use of micronutrient-poor maize-based weaning foods, while Archaic period individuals appear to have been weaned onto marine resources. Paleopathological analysis of individuals from the Archaic (N =72) and Formative (N = 115) Periods shows a significant increase (X2 = 6.667; p = .010) in the prevalence of scurvy (vitamin C deficiency), a disease of low dietary diversity. We discuss these findings in terms of adaptive mechanisms to resource scarcity, maternity, and food allocation.
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Nutritional Stress and the Maternal-Infant Nexus: Insights from Isotopes and Paleopathology in the Ancient Chilean Atacama (ca 9000–1500 BP). Anne Marie Snoddy, Charlotte King, Vivien Standen, Bernardo Arriaza, Sian Halcrow. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 443691)
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min long: -82.441; min lat: -56.17 ; max long: -64.863; max lat: 16.636 ;
Abstract Id(s): 20079