Journal article

Skeletal arsenic of the pre-Columbian population of Caleta Vitor, northern Chile

Jaime Swift, Matthew L Cupper, Alan Greig, Michael C Westaway, Chris Carter, Calogero M Santoro, Rachel Wood, Geraldine E Jacobsen, Fiona Bertuch

JOURNAL OF ARCHAEOLOGICAL SCIENCE | ACADEMIC PRESS LTD- ELSEVIER SCIENCE LTD | Published : 2015

Abstract

Exposure to toxic arsenic has severe health consequences for past and present societies. This research resolves changes in a pre-Industrial population's exposure to the toxin within an arsenic-endemic area of the Atacama Desert of northern Chile over long timescales. Inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) trace element analysis of human bone and tooth samples from 21 burials at Caleta Vitor on the Pacific coast of northern Chile has established that the pre-Columbian inhabitants were exposed to elevated levels of arsenic where one third of the sample population had accumulated levels in their skeletal system indicative of chronic poisoning. Coupled with new accelerator mass sp..

View full abstract

Grants

Awarded by AINSE


Funding Acknowledgements

We are grateful to all those involved in the Flinders University Advanced Archaeological Field School and greatly benefited from the input of two anonymous reviewers, to whom we are also thankful. Christopher Carter directed the excavations and Calogero Santoro arranged all local permissions for archaeological survey and sampling with support from Universidad de Tarapaca and Centro de Investigaciones del Hombre en el Desierto (CIHDE), CONICYT-REGIONAL R07K1001. Ten of the radiocarbon ages for this research were funded by an AINSE research grant (ALNGRA12131).