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Changing Xauxa Foodways: A Paleoethnobotanical Study of Domestic Structures in the Mantaro Valley, Peru Before and After the Inka Conquest


This dissertation presents a multivariate statistical analysis of archaeobotanical data to explore food-related practices in Xauxa households before and after the Inka conquest. The investigation takes a practice-based approach to the study of households and foodways, positing that daily life consists of actions that simultaneously are shaped by and transform underlying structures.

The study poses three related questions: (1) What was the nature of Xauxa household plant use? (2) How did domestic food-related practices vary across households, among sites, and over time? (3) In what ways did feasting activities among the Xauxa serve as an expression of their changing political economy?

This is a paleoethnobotanical investigation in both methodology and interpretive approach. Exploratory data analysis is used to identify patterns in the archaeobotanical data, which are argued to reflect patterns of human activity. By examining plant remains from individual domestic spaces, this study is able to characterize aspects of Xauxa foodways at the household level that both demonstrate and modulate social contestation and political transformations throughout the region over time.

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