Síi Túupentak (CA-SCA-565/H) is a late precontact ancestral Ohlone village and cemetery site in central California (ca. 540-145 cal. BP). Integration of proteomic, genomic, and osteological analyses provided highly confident biological sex estimates for remains of most individuals at this site (65 of 76) spanning all age groups—from perinatal infants to aged adults. The comprehensive nature of the data allowed us to generate sex-specific Kaplan-Meyer survivorship curves for this burial population of sedentary hunter-gatherers. As was common among societies pre-dating modern western medicine and antibiotics, infant mortality was high for both males and females. However, male infants (from birth to 5 years of age) appear to have died at nearly twice the rate of female infants (10 of 33 males versus 5 of 32 females) and had a mean age of survival at birth of only 19 years, compared to 30 years for females. The difference in male and female survival was statistically significant when compared by a log-rank test (p =.005). Compared to survival curves for other societies pre-dating modern western medicine and antibiotics, including American-era historical deaths recorded for a cemetery in San Francisco, this bias is larger than might be expected. We suspect the pattern of sex-biased infant mortality at Síi Túupentak could relate to an intrinsic survival advantage for female infants, combined with extrinsic factors such as environmental pathogens, nutritional stress, and gendered differences in weaning patterns detected through stable isotope analyses. Using isotopic data on weaning ages and ethnographic accounts of gendered foraging activities, we focus on the potential role of sex-biased differences in weaning patterns and highlight potential demographic and social implications. Broader application of proteomic and genomic sex estimation would allow sex-biased differences in nutrition and health, as well as social and cultural aspects of male and female life histories, to be compared across a wide range of archaeologically known hunter-gatherer societies.
Buonasera, Tammy; Eerkens, Jelmer; Byrd, Brian; Engbring, Laurel; Arellano, Monica; Leventhal, Alan; and Parker, Glendon, "Sex-Biased Differences in Infant Mortality and Life Expectancy at at Síi Túupentak, an Ancestral Ohlone Village in Central California (ca. 540–145 cal. BP)" (2022). Human Biology Open Access Pre-Prints. 200.