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Sarah Loomis

"A Monumental Blaze of Glory: An Osteological Analysis of Human Remains from Los Guachimontones, Jalisco, Mexico"

Sarah Loomis

William R. Tyler Fellow

Sarah’s research explores life, death, and ceremonial practice in ancient West Mexico through the analysis of skeletal human remains at Los Guachimontones, Jalisco, MX (ca. 300 BCE–500 CE). Los Guachimontones was the largest site of the Teuchitlán tradition, known for its circular pyramids, shaft tomb burials, and polychrome burial figurines. Remains from residential and central monumental contexts at the site are compared to determine how the ceremonies associated with death and burial contributed to the social and political organization of the site. In addition to age, sex, health, activity markers, and burial treatment, remains are analyzed for DNA and stable isotopes (carbon, nitrogen, strontium, and oxygen) to better understand relatedness, diet, and mobility. The osteological findings are interpreted in light of practices such as warfare, cremation, and human sacrifice, shown in depictions from contemporaneous ceramic figures and Post-Classic accounts such as the Relación de Michoacán.

Sarah Loomis is a PhD candidate in Anthropology at Harvard University. She holds a dual Bachelor degree in Anthropology and English Literature from Miami University (Oxford, OH). In addition to her osteological research in Mexico, Sarah has facilitated and developed lessons for courses on archaeology, Mexican history, chocolate, hieroglyphs, and research project development as a Teaching Fellow at Harvard University; created 3D models from artifact scans at Miami University and Copan archaeological site; and presented archaeological programs for K-12 students through the Harvard Peabody Museum’s outreach program and the Los Guachimontones Interpretive Center.