Carbon and Nitrogen Stable Isotope Analysis of Human and Faunal Skeletal Remains from the Formative Period of the Northern Highlands of Ecuador

  • Author / Creator
    Torres Peña, Paula Nathaly
  • In Ecuador, the diet of prehispanic populations has been interpreted mostly based on the evidence recovered by archaeobotanical and zooarchaeological studies, if available. In contrast, stable isotope analysis for reconstructing diet is still a novel method that has been employed on only a few occasions. This study presents the results from the first stable isotope analysis that has been conducted on Formative sites (3500 – 500 BC) from the northern highlands. Values are reported for a total of 61 samples (n= 47 human and 14 faunal) collected from the sites Rancho Bajo (n= 13), Cotocollao (n= 27), and Las Orquídeas (n= 21). Besides identifying intra-site dietary patterns, the main purpose of this study was to examine any shifts in diet that may have occurred between the Early and the Late Formative Periods. Given that isotopic data was available for the sites La Florida, Tajamar, and NAIQ from the Regional Development and Integration periods, the results of these studies were compared to examine the diet over the three subsequent periods, giving special emphasis to observing the role played by maize in their subsistence. The results indicate that Formative groups had a predominantly C3 diet that also included small quantities of maize, and that there was no apparent age or sex-based differential consumption of this C4 resource. In the following periods the increase in the consumption of the maize crop is evident until it became a staple, supporting the connection between the intensification of maize consumption and the increasing sociopolitical complexity that characterizes the subsequent periods.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Spring 2019
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Arts
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