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Life in the Andean Northern Highlands: An Examination of Population Dynamics, Human Mobility and Dietary Change


The landscapes found within the Department of Ancash, Peru are incredibly diverse, closely stacked and present the inhabitants with a unique set of environmental demands. No landscape is perfectly suited to human habitation. As a consequence, humans learn, adapt to, transform or succumb to the pressures of their environment. But as a result of this process, humans are themselves changed in many dynamic ways. The research presented focuses on how human populations, as they interact with each other and their environment, develop adaptive strategies to mediate environmental pressures, and how the overarching cultural atmosphere influences the choices and behaviors of people.

This dissertation employs an interdisciplinary approach to the study of human-environment interaction that combines archaeology, osteology, and carbon, nitrogen (δ13C and δ15N) and strontium (87Sr/86Sr) stable isotope analyses while focusing on two archaeological case studies from the Department of Ancash, Peru. Case Study 1 evaluates changing subsistence practices during the Late Preceramic (3000-1700 B.C.E.) and Initial Periods (1700-800 B.C.E.) at the archaeological site of La Galgada, Peru. Case Study 2 examines subsistence practices and the degree of residential mobility in the Callejón de Conchucos during the Late Intermediate Period (1000-1450 C.E.).

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