Examining the life history of an individual from solcor 3, San Pedro de Atacama: Combining bioarchaeology and archaeological chemistry

Cristina Torres-Rouff, Kelly Knudson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Detailed life history information using multiple lines of evidence including the identification of geographic origins, health, and body use indicators, can be used to elucidate the complex process of acculturation in the San Pedro de Atacama oases of northern Chile during the Middle Horizon. This paper presents the results of bioarchaeological and archaeological chemical analyses of the skeletal remains of an adult male (tomb 50, catalog number 1948) from the cemetery of Solcor 3 (ca. AD 500-900). Strontium isotope ratios in human tooth enamel reveal information about where a person lived during their childhood, when enamel was being formed. Individual 1948 showed strontium isotope ratios decidedly outside the range of the local San Pedro de Atacama strontium isotope signature. Given these data implying that individual 1948 was originally from elsewhere, an examination of his health status, social role, and mortuary context provides insight into the treatment of foreigners in San Pedro de Atacama. Our data support the argument that individual 1948's foreign birth did not hinder his later assimilation into Atacameño society. He was buried in a local cemetery with a typical mortuary assemblage for a male of this time and no strong evidence of possible foreign origin. Skeletal indicators of diet and activity patterns do not distinguish individual 1948 from the local population, suggesting that his lifestyle was similar to that of other Atacameños. Therefore, our analyses suggest that individual 1948's acculturation into Atacameño society during his adult life was nearly complete and he retained little to no indication of his probable foreign birth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)235-257
Number of pages23
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 2007


  • Acculturation
  • Bone chemistry
  • Paleopathology
  • South Central Andes
  • Strontium isotope analysis
  • Tiwanaku
  • Trace element analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Archaeology


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