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Lori Wright

  • (979) 458-5991
  • Anthropology 316B
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PhD, University of Chicago, 1994
Biological Anthropology


Bioarchaeology, Ancient Maya, Paleodiet, Paleopathology, inequality

Current Research Projects:

In my bioarchaeological research on the ancient Maya of Central America, I study how cultural behaviors and health each leave their mark on the human skeleton, emphasizing: 1) the reconstruction of prehistoric diets and mobility through stable isotopic analyses of bones and teeth, and 2) the evaluation of health status using pathological lesions and signs of growth arrest during childhood.

In recent years, I have explored distinctions in diet and health among social groups and through time at the ancient Maya city of Tikal, Guatemala. I document childhood diets by measuring carbon stable isotope ratios of tooth enamel and I identify the skeletons of foreign migrants using strontium and oxygen isotope ratios, which vary with geological substrates and rainwater composition, respectively. My strontium isotope work at Tikal has refuted the epigraphic identification of one of TikalÕs Early Classic rulers as a foreign child, and demonstrates that a sizeable proportion of Tikal skeletons are individuals who spent their childhoods elsewhere.


Courses Taught:

ANTH 225 – Biological Anthropology
ANTH 425 – Human Osteology
ANTH 423 – Bioarchaeology
ANTH 625 – Paleopathology
ANTH 627 – Paleonutrition
ANTH 632 – Archaeology of Death
ANTH 638 – Proposal Writing in Anthropology
ANTH 689 – Dental Anthropology

Current Graduate Students:

Paloma Cuello del Pozo,

Victoria Izzo

Armando Inurreta

(Note: I do NOT expect that I will admit any new graduate students under my supervision for the 2023-24 academic year.)

Selected and Recent Publications:

2020     Canterbury, J.A.,  C. W. Beck, C. Dozier, K. Hoffmeister, J. Magaro, A. G. Perrotti, L. E. Wright: Bariatric surgery as a proxy for nutritional stress in stable isotope investigations of archaeological populations. Journal of Archaeological Science, Reports 30 (2020) 102196.

2014           Fenner, J. and L.E. Wright. Focus: Revisiting the Strontium Contribution of Sea Salt in the Human Diet. Journal of Archaeological Science 44(2014): 99-103.

2013           Wright, L.E. Examining childhood diets at Kaminaljuyu, Guatemala, through stable isotopic analysis of enamel microsamples. Archaeometry 55(1): 113-133.

2012           Wright, L.E. Immigration to Tikal, Guatemala: Evidence from stable strontium and oxygen isotopes. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 31: 334-352.

2011           Wright, L.E. Bilateral talipes equinovarus from Tikal, Guatemala. International Journal of Paleopathology 1(1): 55-62.

2010          Wright, L.E., J.A. Valdés, J.H. Burton, T.D. Price, and H.P. Schwarcz. The children of Kaminaljuyu:  Isotopic insight into diet and long distance interaction in Mesoamerica.  Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 29(2):  155-178.

2006          Wright, L.EDiet, Health and Status among the Pasión Maya:  A Reappraisal of the Collapse.  Vanderbilt Institute of Mesoamerican Archaeology Series, Volume 2, Vanderbilt University Press, Nashville.

2005          Wright, L.E. Identifying immigrants to Tikal, Guatemala:  Defining local variability in strontium isotope ratios of human tooth enamel. Journal of Archaeological Science 32(4):  555-566.

2003          Wright, L.E., and M.A. Vásquez. Estimating long bone length from fragmentary remains:  forensic standards from Guatemala. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 120(3):  233-251.