Investigating Human Diet and Bone Health in the Colombian Andes: Prehistoric and early Spanish Colonial Experiences


 This summer I was very lucky to travel and work in Colombia for five weeks. My first two weeks in Colombia I worked on an archaeological excavation in the town of Ubaté. I have previously excavated at archaeological sites in Poland and Bolivia and have worked on other archaeological projects in Peru. The site we excavated in Ubaté, Colombia was 5,000 years old. We encountered 3 human skeletons and it was a great opportunity for me to use my skills as a bioarchaeologist to excavate these delicate remains. After the excavation finished I had the opportunity to briefly travel to the Northeast coast of Colombia to visit the historical cities of Santa Marta and Cartagena and I hope to return to these amazing cities in the future. I returned to Bogota and worked on the beginnings of what will be my dissertation research. Prior to traveling I had been in contact with professors at the Universidad de los Andes who directed an archaeological project at a site called Tibanica. The Tibanica project has a large number of human skeletal remains from 1200-1600 AD, a fascinating time period. By traveling to Colombia I was able to meet with these professors to discuss my research interests and I was glad to receive their permission (and enthusiasm) to join their team of investigators. During the last weeks of my trip I worked in the collections from the Tibanica excavations, sorting through boxes, identifying potential individuals to sample for my dissertation research, and ultimately collecting samples and exporting them (with the consent of the project and ICANH) back to UC Berkeley for analysis. I greatly appreciate the financial assistance of the Tinker Foundation who helped fund this productive and successful trip to Colombia; this trip was the foundation of my dissertation research.

Melanie J. Miller
Publication date: 
October 17, 2012
Publication type: 
Student Research