Before reaching adulthood, every individual experiences a period of dependency, the juvenile period, during which they rely on the older, more experienced members of their society for their security, subsistence and care. This juvenile period is an important stage of life for human physical and physiological development. In bioarchaeology, there has been limited research conducted on juveniles, particularly, the development of their own social identity and influences. The research method of stable carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) isotope analysis is used to reconstruct the paleodiet of juveniles to determine their dietary composition. Specifically, this research is focused on Kuelap, located in the highlands of Peru, a large settlement inhabited from 900-1535 AD, including pre-Inca (900-1469 AD) and Inca periods (1470-1535 AD). The primary aim of this research is to determine if juveniles consumed different foods through different time periods. Another aim of this research is to determine if juveniles were treated differently than their adult counterparts. Bone collagen samples, primarily ribs, from 32 juveniles were analyzed. The average δ13C value for the pre-Inca juveniles was –13.1‰, and –13.4‰ for the Inca period juveniles. There was no statistically significant difference in δ13C values between juvenile groups or between adult and juvenile subsamples. The average δ15N for the pre-Inca juveniles was +8.1‰ and +7.8‰ for the Inca period juveniles. The Mann-Whitney U test determined there was not a statistically significant difference in δ15N values between the juvenile burial groups; however, there was a statistically significant difference between the juvenile and adult subgroups. The findings suggest that there may have been preferential treatment toward or metabolic stressors on the juvenile. The results of this study offer insights to availability of dietary components, societal roles based on developmental age stages, and the potential role of parenting in Kuelap.

Thesis Completion




Thesis Chair/Advisor

Toyne, J. Marla


Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)


College of Sciences




Orlando (Main) Campus



Access Status

Open Access

Release Date