Event: Virtual Pizza Talk: Reconstructing the Lives of Ancient Panamanians through Isotope Analysis

Date & Time

April 7, 2021 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm
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Contact Information

Michelle Jacobson



Event Type

Pizza Talk

Event Details

Ashley Sharpe
Staff scientist and archaeologist
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama

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In recent years, multi-isotope analyses have become an increasingly popular method for examining the lives of past humans. Isotope studies can examine questions regarding the diets, health, and movements of people in the past. In combination with osteological, genetic, and archaeological data, we can begin to reconstruct the histories of both individuals and entire communities. This study presents results of an ongoing multi-isotope investigation of pre-Colombian humans in Panama, and compares these results with other isotope studies elsewhere in the Americas. The results illustrate the complex nature of human activities, and the value of incorporating multiple lines of social and ecological evidence to draw interpretations. New and developing methods in isotope research are also explored.

Panama isotopes

Ashley Sharpe is a staff scientist and archaeologist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama, where she has worked since 2017. Her research examines human and environmental (particularly animal) interactions in the past, including how humans adapted to different environments over time, and what effects they had on the landscape. She has worked as an archaeologist and faunal analyst on projects throughout Central America, including Ceibal, San Bartolo-Xultun, and Kaminaljuyu in Guatemala, Aguada Fénix in Mexico, Selin Farm in Honduras, and most recently projects in Panama. She obtained a Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Florida in 2016.