Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Bethany L. Turner

Second Advisor

Nicola O. Sharratt

Third Advisor

Brent KS Woodfill

Fourth Advisor

Jeffrey B. Glover

Fifth Advisor

Haagen D. Klaus


The Inka Empire (A.D. 1450-1532) practiced flexible forms of statecraft that affected their periphery populations across the Andean cordillera. Lived experiences of Inka subjects differed in varied ways, which therefore requires nuanced bioarchaeological approaches. This study aims to interpret psychosocial stress through assays of cortisol in archaeological hair from sacrificed individuals recovered in the Huaca de los Sacrificios at the Chotuna-Chornancap Archaeological complex. This site is located in the Lambayeque Valley, and was used as a ritual and ceremonial complex by both the Inka and earlier Chimú states, and originally by the local Muchik. The remains analyzed here are associated with the Inka period. Utilizing enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) to obtain overall cortisol levels, this study examines spikes in cortisol and analyzes these data along with clinical data. These archaeological cortisol levels are also compared to cortisol data from living participants, in order to better reconstruct and infer overall stress levels in these sacrificed individuals. Cortsiol levels vary between the adults (n=2) and children (n=8) in this sample. The adult cortisol levels range well within clinical data. The cortisol data from the children appear to be representative of pubertal development rather than physiological stress.