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Stable isotopes (δ13C and δ15N) from North West Argentina: paleodietary implications

Matías G. Ammann, Osvaldo J. Mendonça, Noelia I. Merlo, María A. Bordach, Robert H. Tykot
  • Matías G. Ammann
    Laboratorio de Osteología y Anatomía Funcional Humana, Universidad Nacional de Río Cuarto, Argentina
  • Osvaldo J. Mendonça
    Laboratorio de Osteología y Anatomía Funcional Humana, Universidad Nacional de Río Cuarto, Argentina | omendonca@exa.unrc.edu.ar
  • Noelia I. Merlo
    Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas - CONICET, Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • María A. Bordach
    Laboratorio de Osteología y Anatomía Funcional Humana, Universidad Nacional de Río Cuarto, Argentina
  • Robert H. Tykot
    Department of Anthropology, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL, United States

Abstract

Presented here are the first results of an ongoing research project on stable isotopic analysis of human bone samples from six sites located at Jujuy province, NW Argentina. The region was inhabited by hunter gatherers as early as 10,000 years ago (Archaic Period). Sometime between 500 BC-AD 1600, peoples from the region became agricultural-pastoralists. The prehistoric development of these societies was severed in 1596 by the Spanish Conquest. A diversity of environmental as well as chronological differences led the prehistoric societies of the region to adopt and display a series of adaptive responses. Active exchange of products was a common fact. The aforementioned circumstances raise expectations concerning the existence of possible variations in the actual consumption of available alimentary items in Puna (3000 to 4700 m asl), as well as in Quebrada de Humahuaca (2000 to 2800 m asl). The obtained δ13C and δ15N values on both apatite and collagen show elevated consumption of C4 resources in Quebrada de Humahuaca since the onset of the Formative Period (ca. 500 BC). Puna samples, on the other hand, show a sustained, long lasting chronological emphasis on camelid production and consumption as well as other C3 resources exploited. We conclude that, in spite of the considerable interactions and trading that took place between these two regions in prehistoric times, they were not strong enough to erase the environmental influences that determined the existence of distinctive stable isotope patterns related to diet (and composition of meals) between Quebrada de Humahuaca and Puna peoples.

Keywords

bioarchaeology, NW Argentina, paleodiet, stable isotopes, subsistence economies

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Submitted: 2013-12-24 09:59:26
Published: 2014-02-13 15:32:17
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