This study involves the investigation of diet and mobility among people living in the lower Río Verde Valley, Oaxaca, Mexico, during the Late Classic (AD 500-800) and Early Postclassic (AD 800-1200) periods. Specifically, this research focuses on how political and social collapse affected subsistence practices and diet, particularly maize agriculture and consumption, as well as human migration. Archaeological evidence suggests that Río Viejo, the region's largest urban center before AD 800, experienced multiple periods of political fragmentation and instability during its long history, specifically during the Early Classic (AD 250 - 500) and Early Postclassic periods, making it an ideal place to test these relationships. Stable carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen isotopic analyses of human bone and tooth samples were used to reconstruct diet and create a life history for sampled individuals. Samples were extracted from the skeletal remains of individuals dating to the Late Classic (n=11) and Early Postclassic (n=11) periods. Stable carbon and nitrogen isotope values provide insight into maize consumption; in addition stable nitrogen isotope values also indicate the extent that aquatic resources were being exploited. Stable oxygen isotope values are used to determine if any of the individuals were foreigners and had migrated to the valley during their lifetime. Results demonstrate collapse following the Classic period led to a slight dietary shift that included a wider variety of resources, possibly aquatic. Human mobility also increased during this time as oxygen values display a wider range and indicate movement within the valley and along the coast.
Master of Arts (M.A.)
College of Sciences
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Campus-only Access)
Rumberger, Jacklyn, "Diet and Migration in Coastal Oaxaca: Identifying Effects of Political and Social Collapse through the Utilization of Stable Isotope Analysis" (2016). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 5336.