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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Habitual activity and changing adaptations at the El Brujo Archaeological Complex: A diachronic investigation of musculoskeletal stress and degenerative joint disease in the lower Chicama Valley of northern coastal Peru
by Titelbaum, Anne R., Ph.D., Tulane University, 2012, 387; 3519914
Abstract (Summary)

This research examines the impact of socioeconomic change on the physical activity and workload of the successive populations that inhabited the El Brujo Archaeological Complex in the Chicama Valley of northern coastal Peru. The El Brujo Complex was continuously occupied from the Preceramic until the colonial period, and the cultural sequence demonstrates a succession of economic changes moving from foraging-fishing, to horticulture, to agriculture, to intensified agriculture. Alongside the economic changes were sociopolitical changes, moving from a largely egalitarian social structure to ultimately a stratified state level society.

The earliest skeletal remains at the site complex is a Late Preceramic sample excavated from the anthropogenic mound Huaca Prieta, dating to around 4500 BP. Based on archaeological investigation, it appears that these early inhabitants were fisher-foragers, who practiced limited cultivation, and who had a largely egalitarian social structure. Later, an Early Intermediate Period Moche population interred their dead in the mound Huaca Cao Viejo. The Moche practiced agriculture, fished, built monumental architecture, probably utilized watercraft, and had at least a chiefdom and possibly state level political organization. Following the Moche decline, the next major use of the site was by a Late Intermediate Period Lambayeque population, who also interred their dead in Huaca Cao Viejo. With a stratified state level society, the Lambayeque practiced intensified agriculture, built monumental architecture, fished, presumably utilized watercraft, and mass-produced crafts.

To compare activity patterns and overall workload in relation to the changing economies and organization, the remains of 159 adult men and women from the El Brujo Complex were examined. Each skeleton was analyzed for 19 markers of musculoskeletal stress on the upper and lower limbs, as well as for degenerative joint disease, Schmorl's nodes, and spondylolysis.

The findings reveal that physical activity, overall workload, and the sexual division of labor did change over time with socioeconomic intensification. The data demonstrate that with agriculture, patterns of workload changed, and there was an overall increase in biomechanical strain. While workload increased from the early to the later agricultural group, the increase in upper limb loading was proportionately greater for females than males.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Verano, John W.
School: Tulane University
School Location: United States -- Louisiana
Source: DAI-A 73/11(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Archaeology, Physical anthropology, Forensic anthropology
Keywords: Bioarchaeology, Chicama Valley, Degenerative joint disease, El Brujo Archaeological Complex, Musculoskeletal stress markers, Osteoarthritis, Peru
Publication Number: 3519914
ISBN: 978-1-267-51275-8
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