Isotopic Analysis of Dietary Variation at Casas Grandes, Mexico


This is an abstract from the "SAA 2019: General Sessions" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

Stable isotope analysis of prehistoric human remains has complemented other dietary reconstruction techniques for many years. It provides biologically-based data that allow an examination of what was actually consumed.

Using 70 individuals from Paquimé and 14 from the nearby Convento site, we examine whether bone collagen δ13C and δ15N values are correlated with estimated sex, age, time period, non-local origin, and status at prehistoric Casas Grandes. Although outlier values are identifiable, the only significant difference is between δ13C values from the Viejo (700-1200 CE) and Medio periods (1200-1450 CE). We explain this as the influence of a C4 and CAM isotopic environment, which result in low isotopic variation for most diets. The significant difference between the earlier and later period mean δ13C values is attributed to an increase in the consumption of maize or animals that consumed C4 or CAM plants during the Medio. Stable nitrogen isotope values remain relatively constant throughout, making it difficult to detect changes in trophic level using stable isotope values.This study presents the largest dietary stable isotope data set from the Casas Grandes region. The results show that isotopic methods of detecting dietary variation are best used in conjunction with other archaeological evidence.

Cite this Record

Isotopic Analysis of Dietary Variation at Casas Grandes, Mexico. Courtney McConnan Borstad, Adrianne Offenbecker, M. Anne Katzenberg. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 449767)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: -123.97; min lat: 25.958 ; max long: -92.549; max lat: 37.996 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 25304