Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Jacqueline Eng

Second Advisor

Dr. LouAnn Wurst

Third Advisor

Dr. Stephan Naji

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


This study explored the taphonomic factors that contributed to the preservation of human skeletal remains inside ancient above-ground tomb in Marcajirca, Peru. This study incorporated one hundred and eighteen bones from three chullpas. Five taphonomic factors were examined: bone type, plant activity, root presence, weathering, and cultural factors. Surface layers inside each chullpa were analyzed using Geographic Information System (GIS) software. Chi-square tests were employed to investigate preservation and taphonomic factors. The results from the statistical tests indicated that there was a significant difference in the taphonomic factors on different bone types. Chullpa 6 was significant because it was unique in terms of taphonomy compared to the other chullpas. There was a significant difference between the size of the chullpa and the preservation of the bones in that the smaller the chullpa size, the better the preservation. This examination informs our understanding of how cultural practices and natural environmental and intrinsic factors of bones affect taphonomy and how each plays a role in the preservation of skeletal remains.