Re-approaching palaeodiet in the Andes: use and application of sulphur isotope analysis in reconstructing Peruvian palaeodiet Use and Application of Sulphur Isotope Analysis in Reconstructing Ancient Peruvian Diet

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Katherine G. Bishop


This research critically examines palaeodietary analyses in ancient Peru. Research is often approached using ceramics, flora, and faunal remains to examine human diet and behaviour prior to written records however these remains may not be indicative of items used exclusively for subsistence. More directed approaches employ stable isotope analyses of human remains as these data can provide direct indication of foods consumed during life. Peruvian isotope studies focus on 13C-enrichment patterns, and follow the premise that maize (corn) was the main source of 13C-enrichment recorded in bone collagen. Recent studies in Peru have identified other dietary sources that cause similar enrichment patterns, including kiwicha (pseudocereal), marine protein (e.g. shellfish, fish, and seals), and mococho (seaweed). As a result, additional methodologies must be employed to more sufficiently identify sources of subsistence in ancient Peru. I propose that stable sulphur isotope methodology may be used to overcome the issues presented. By critically reviewing previous palaeodietary analyses of Peru I examine current limitations and overview the application potential of carbon and nitrogen isotope studies complemented with sulphur isotope analysis of human and faunal remains within a Peruvian context. Ultimately I advocate for a more comprehensive approach to Peruvian palaeodiet.

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Author Biography

Katherine G. Bishop

Katherine is a PhD student in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Alberta. Her dissertation research examines animal management practices using stable isotope analysis of ancient Greek remains. As co-Editor-in-Chief Katherine works closely with the review team and overviews the journal process and overall layout.