Gastropolitics in Early Fort Ancient: Dietary analysis as a means of examining social status during a period of emerging complexity

Emma M. Lagan, Mark Hubbe, Chris W. Schmidt, Luca Fiorenza, Debbie Guatelli-Steinberg, Robert A. Cook

Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting Abstractpeer-review


Traditional methods of recognizing hierarchy in archaeology are not well suited for detecting nuanced distinctions in social status that may develop in societies with emerging complexity. To discern such distinctions, this study uses a gastropolitical framework to examine dietary correlates of social relationships at the Early Fort Ancient (c.1000–1250 CE) site of Turpin (33HA19) in the Middle Ohio River Valley, USA. Diet is assessed through stable isotope analysis of Carbon-13 and Nitrogen-15, Dental Microwear Texture Analysis, and caries rates of 69 burials. The Turpin site consists of a central burial mound with a surrounding pattern of interments. This study tests the hypothesis that those buried around the mound ate a less preferred diet (more maize) than those buried in the mound. Moreover, it is expected that diet differentiation also was correlated with other aspects of social status, like age and sex. T-tests revealed significant differences at the p􀀡0.05 level between mound and pattern burials, with mound burials exhibiting lower nitrogen, carbon, and caries and higher microwear complexity. These data indicate that individuals in the mound likely consumed less maize than their counterparts in the pattern. Additionally, young adults had signi􀜪cantly higher 13C/12C carbon ratio than older adults), and males had signi􀜪cantly higher 15N/14N ratio nitrogen and caries prevalence. Males therefore appear to have consumed both more meat and more maize than females. This study demonstrates that there were already important layers of social distinction in these Early Fort Ancient sites, as seen in their diets.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)103-104
Number of pages2
JournalAmerican Journal of Biological Anthropology
Issue numberS73
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2022
EventAnnual Meeting of the American Association of Biological Anthropologists 2022 - Denver, United States of America
Duration: 23 Mar 20221 Apr 2022
Conference number: 91st (Abstracts from the Annual Meeting)

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