20225404(en)/11 - Taxes, Head Lice and Gods: Cultural Implications and Prevalence of Pediculosis in Individuals from the Camarones 9 Inca Site, Norhern Chile
TAXES, HEAD LICE AND GODS: CULTURAL IMPLICATIONS AND PREVALENCE OF PEDICULOSIS IN INDIVIDUALS FROM THE CAMARONES 9 INCA SITE, NORHERN CHILE
TRIBUTOS, PIOJOS Y DIOSES: IMPLICANCIAS CULTURALES Y PREVALENCIA DE LA PEDICULOSIS EN INDIVIDUOS DEL SITIO INCAICO DE CAMARONES 9, NORTE DE CHILE
Bernardo Arriaza, Natalia Aravena, Hipólito Núñez y Vivien G. Standen
In this work, we studied the prevalence of pediculosis in the Inca site, Camarones 9 (northern Chile), to contrast with descriptions contained in the chronicles and what has been observed in the bioarchaeological record. The head lice is a frequent ectoparasitosis, but the cultural responses and its control vary according to the affected populations. To delve into this topic, we studied 25 mummies with abundant hair, quantifying the presence, absence, and density of pediculosis in an area of hair measuring 2 x 2 cm. About 88% (22/25) of the mummies were found positive for head lice, with an average density of 4.4 nits per 2 x 2 cm. It should be noted that one of the individuals analyzed had a density of 30 nits in the same 2 x 2 cm area, presenting the highest amount from the total number of individuals studied. In the light of this evidence, the cultural practices associated with pediculosis are discussed, as well as whether the considerable number of specimens observed would have been used as tribute during the Inca period when there was no other way to contribute to the state. It is concluded that pediculosis was endemic and that its cultural tolerance and worldview contributed to its prevalence during the Late period.