Cassandra (Beth) Koontz Scaffidi

Grant Type

Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship

Institutional Affiliation

California, Merced, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 10183

Approve Date

October 7, 2021

Project Title

Scaffidi, Cassandra (Beth) (California, Merced, U. of) "Immigration and Mobility in the Age of Ancient Andean Empires: Insights from Isotope Biogeochemistry and Landscape Bioarchaeology"

This book emerges from debates over which pre-Hispanic polities were empires and how imperial policies impacted individual and community well-being. Across world prehistory, empires accelerated immigration. Since mismatches between human and burial site isotope values provide the only direct evidence of individual immigration, I leverage skeletal and environmental 87Sr/86Sr data from my Andean Paleomobility Unification (APU) Project to compare proportions of non-locals between Central Andean sites (ca. 500 – 1532 CE). I combine bioarchaeological data on physiological health and violence with site characteristics and community composition to examine how ancient Andean Empires structured immigration and well-being. Community composition is determined by the percentage of non-local individuals—those with 87Sr/86Sr that diverges from local87Sr/86Sr. However, isotopic anthropologists have clashed over which materials and models predict local bioavailable strontium in human diets, and rarely interrogate the biocultural impact of immigration. My landscape bioarchaeology approach integrates skeletal and environmental 87Sr/86Sr, 87Sr/86Sr isoscapes, and Andean ontologies of mobility to compare fluctuating community composition via a mobility index. I find that immigration peaks during Wari and Inca eras, at imperial centers, and in cities centered on communal ritual. Health is not related to immigrant status or geographic diversity. Low intra-community violence correlates with high immigration. This book’s theoretically-informed, synthetic, big-data approach models an empirical-social bioarchaeology, speaking broadly to anthropologists examining the causes and consequences of immigration.