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Bones of ComplexityBioarchaeological Case Studies of Social Organization and Skeletal Biology$
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Haagen D. Klaus, Amanda R. Harvey, and Mark N. Cohen

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780813062235

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813062235.001.0001

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Middle Sicán Mortuary Archaeology, Skeletal Biology, and Genetic Structures in Late Pre-Hispanic South America

Middle Sicán Mortuary Archaeology, Skeletal Biology, and Genetic Structures in Late Pre-Hispanic South America

Chapter:
(p.408) 16 Middle Sicán Mortuary Archaeology, Skeletal Biology, and Genetic Structures in Late Pre-Hispanic South America
Source:
Bones of Complexity
Author(s):

Haagen D. Klaus

Izumi Shimada

Ken-ichi Shinoda

Sarah Muno

Publisher:
University Press of Florida
DOI:10.5744/florida/9780813062235.003.0016

Bioarchaeological study of human remains in the heartland of the Middle Sicán culture (A.D. 900–1100) in Peru’s northern Lambayeque Valley Complex bring together many lines of biological and archaeological data drawn from 35 years of research. The authors demonstrate strongly institutionalized expressions of social hierarchy between elite ethnic Sicán lords and the lower status ethnic Muchik people living throughout the valley. Comparisons of skeletal stress markers between the two groups point to lower status Muchik enduring measurably greater morbidity, more physically demanding lifestyles, and lower quality diets. However, higher-status individuals revealed unique examples of interpersonal violence, perhaps related to risks associated with their political station. Analysis of mtDNA and tooth size variation indicates that social inequality also shaped their gene pool, such that elite Sicán and commoner Muchik groups did not widely intermarry. Klaus et al. propose these biological differences can be explained within the theoretical construct of embodiment, and that differences in resource access was one of several factors contributing to the collapse of the Middle Sicán political and religious system.

Keywords:   Peru, Lambayeque Valley, skeletal stress markers

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