University of Illinois at Chicago

Diet and Ancient Maya Socioeconomic Status at Xcambó, Yucatán, Mexico

Download (2.11 MB)
posted on 2018-02-08, 00:00 authored by Madeleine Halac-Higashimori
My dissertation examines social organization, gender, and diet at Xcambó, Yucatán, over time. Although social rank was not linked to pronounced differences in nutritional status at Xcambó, the results of this study suggest that there was a difference by status in the type of protein consumed, the diet of the middle ranking group differing from those of the lower and higher ranking. The data also suggests a potential link between dietary variation and horizontal social differences, possibly related to place of origin, ethnicity, household preferences or occupation, but additional data is required to identify the cause with greater specificity. Furthermore, males had more isotopically enriched collagen carbon, consistent with greater consumption of C4 and/or marine protein. However, there was no significant difference between the sexes in nitrogen isotope values. Therefore, greater consumption by males of fermented maize beverages seems a plausible explanation for the difference in carbon stable isotope signatures. Comparison of carbon and nitrogen isotope values between the Early and Late Classic periods does not reveal any significant changes in diet through time. Thus, although the paleodietary conclusions drawn from this study should be considered preliminary, they suggest that Xcambó's geographic location and success in trade ensured its populace access to adequate nutritional resources and at the same time underscore the importance of examining both horizontal and vertical social distinctions contributing to dietary variation.



Palka, Joel W


Palka, Joel W



Degree Grantor

University of Illinois at Chicago

Degree Level

  • Doctoral

Committee Member

LaMotta, Vincent M Prost, Jack H Williams, Sloan R Cucina, Andrea Tiesler, Vera

Submitted date

December 2017

Issue date


Usage metrics


    No categories selected