Identifying foreigners versus locals in a burial population from Nasca, Peru: an investigation using strontium isotope analysis
In the south central Andes, archaeologists have long debated the extent of Tiwanaku colonization during the Middle Horizon (AD 500-1000). We tested the hypotheses regarding the nature of Tiwanaku influence using strontium isotope, trace element concentration, and oxygen isotope data from archaeological human tooth enamel and bone from Tiwanaku- and Chiribaya-affiliated sites in the south central Andes. Strontium isotope analysis of 25 individuals buried at the Tiwanaku-affiliated Moquegua Valley site of Chen Chen demonstrates that it was likely a Tiwanaku colony. In contrast, no immigrants from the Lake Titicaca Basin were present in 27 individuals analyzed from the San Pedro de Atacama cemeteries of Coyo Oriental, Coyo-3, and Solcor-3; it is likely that these sites represent economic and religious alliances, but not colonies. However, strontium isotope analysis alone cannot distinguish movement between the Tiwanaku- and Chiribaya-affiliated sites in the Moquegua and Ilo Valleys of southern Peru. Analyzing oxygen isotope and trace element concentration data and comparing it with strontium isotope data from the same individuals provides a more detailed picture of residential mobility in the Tiwanaku and Chiribaya polities. In addition to monitoring diagenetic contamination, trace element concentration data identified movement during adulthood for certain individuals. However, these data could not distinguish movement between the Moquegua and Ilo Valleys. While oxygen isotope data could clearly distinguish the high-altitude sites from others, more data is needed to characterize the local oxygen isotope ratios of these regions. These data demonstrate the potential for archaeological reconstruction of residential mobility through multiple lines of evidence.