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LSU student helps uncover 2,500 year old kitchen in Peru

G&A undergraduate Margeaux Murray joined an international crew of archaeologists at the ancient seaside settlement of Samanco (600-200 BCE), located in the desert 250 miles north of Lima, Peru.

Murray, a senior majoring in anthropology with a minor in fine arts, joined a team under the supervision of Matthew Helmer, LSU alumn who is currently conducting field research as part of his dissertation work at the University of East Anglia.

The project, funded in part by National Geographic, focuses on maritime adaptations during the first millennium BCE and the role of sea resources in the organization of economic life and regional trade networks.

Murray, who has archaeological field experience in Louisiana and Peru, spent four weeks at Samanco excavating the material remains left behind by populations who built and maintained a series of residential areas within the ancient town.

One of the highlights of her fieldwork experience comes from the discovery of ancient food preparation and kitchen area where food was prepared and cooked. Murray’s hard work paid off as she documented three stone-lined hearths alongside dense accumulations of food remains.

She was helped by LSU archaeologists David Chicoine and Steve Treloar who visited the excavations.

Preliminary analyses of the animal remains indicate that ancient coastal populations relied heavily on animal domestication in addition to the abundant marine resources.The presence of butchery marks on several mammal bones suggests that camelids, guinea pigs, and dogs were important sources of animal protein.

Radiocarbon analyses of charcoal remains sampled from the hearth are expected to confirm that the kitchen was in use more than 2,500 years ago.

Meanwhile, Murray continues her involvement with archaeology in the classroom, as well as part of the LSU Rural Life Museum where is currently working on artifact collections from the local Chatsworth Plantation.

Results of the Samanco research are currently being processed for a number of publication projects and Helmer’s dissertation work.

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