Stable carbon and nitrogen isotopic analysis of skeletal remains from Azapa 71 and Pica-8, Northern Chile: An assessment of human diet and landscape use in the Late Holocene

Bianca Petruzzelli, Amy Roberts, Frank Pate, Calogero Santoro, Todd Maddern, Chris Carter, Michael Westaway

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    13 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    This paper presents the results of stable carbon and nitrogen isotope analyses of human bone from two northern Chilean Late Holocene c. 4000-700 BP) archaeological sites: Azapa 71 (Az-71) in the Azapa Valley, Arica and Parinacota region, and the site of Pica-8, in the Pampa del Tamarugal inland basin, Tarapacá region. These results are compared to isotope data from other Chilean sites. The research examined issues relating to human diet and landscape use in these regions over this time period as well as the reliance on marine foods and/or agriculture. It also aimed to investigate the potential of this information to inform our understanding of the degree of inter-regional social interaction between populations. The outcomes of this research reveal the importance of using independent analyses, such as stable carbon and nitrogen isotope analyses, to understand the diets of past populations. The results suggest that both populations retained diets based on terrestrial hunter-gatherer economies, with the addition of marine foods. Further, these marine foods were found to be exploited to a greater extent than the archaeological evidence for subsistence at the sites indicated. The stable isotope data challenge the archaeology which to date has potentially over-represented the use of both wild and farmed plant foods by these populations. However, the social mechanisms explaining how different groups had access to marine resources continues to remain uncertain.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)52-80
    Number of pages29
    JournalJournal of the Anthropological Society of South Australia
    Volume35
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2012

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