Keitlyn Elizabeth Alcantara Russell
Grant TypeDissertation Fieldwork Grant
Institutional AffiliationVanderbilt U.
Grant numberGr. 9448
Approve DateApril 25, 2017
Project TitleAlcantara Russell, Keitlyn E., Vanderbilt U., Nashville, TN - To aid research on 'The Diet of Sovereignty: Bioarchaeology in Tlaxcallan,' supervised by Dr. Tiffiny Tung
KEITLYN E. ALCANTARA-RUSSELL, then a graduate student at Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, received a grant in April 2017 to aid research on “The Diet of Sovereignty: Bioarchaeology in Tlaxcallan,” supervised by Dr. Tiffiny Tung. This research investigates how foodways create community capacities for sovereignty in the face of imperial expansion. As the Aztec Empire spread across central Mexico in the Late Postclassic (AD 1325-1519), Tlaxcallan remained one of the only states to resist imperial incorporation. Drawing from a bioarchaeological case study of a population from the elite core city of Tepeticpac, Tlaxcallan, this project demonstrates how community health and sustenance was key to the state’s continued resistance. Through analysis of 53 archaeological skeletons from two plazas in Tepeticpac, this project studied correlates of consumed foods (dietary isotopes and phytoliths), highlighting patterns of resource consumption and distribution shaped by sociopolitical and economic responses to imperial expansion. Preliminary isotope results from dental enamel and phytoliths from dental plaque show that childhood diets at Tepeticpac were homogeneous, with high dependence on C4 plants (specifically locally found maguey and maize). Oxygen isotope values from local water sources align with values from dental enamel, and are also homogeneous, showing little evidence for immigration. These findings suggest that at Tepeticpac, food was distributed evenly throughout the population, one of several ways that this community protected its members from the adverse effects of imperial attacks.