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Description of Research Area

How people managed their crops in the past is an important area to investigate, but specific evidence for agricultural practices is often elusive. By applying stable isotope analysis to botanical remains recovered from archaeological sites, we can use what we have observed from controlled studies to document what kinds of fertilizers people were using in the past, how heavily they may have been fertilizing their crops, and if the crops were provided with supplemental water through irrigation. My research in this area is focused on the Andean region of Peru and northern Chile. 

This research was recently awarded a SSHRC Insight Grant ($313,000 2019-2024). Opportunities are currently available for graduate students interested in this research area.

Representative Publications

  • Szpak P, Chiou KL, 2019. A comparison of nitrogen isotope compositions of charred and desiccated botanical remains from northern Peru. Vegetation History and Archaeobotany. doi:10.1007/s00334-019-00761-2. [DOWNLOAD .pdf]

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