I am an anthropological archaeologist interested in how people in the past interacted with and valued the world around them. I specialized in archaeology during my BA from the University of Toronto. During my MSc at the University of Edinburgh, I began training in osteoarchaeology and isotope analysis. I examined dietary variation among humans and animals at a Late Roman-Early Byzantine site in Ibiza, Spain, in which I detected dietary differences between gender groups and socioeconomic statuses. My PhD dissertation was completed at the University of Toronto in 2021, where I applied zooarchaeology, iconography, bioarchaeology, and isotope analyses to study human-animal interactions among the Moche cultural phase of the North Coast of present-day Peru. In parallel with my doctoral research, I was fortunate to conduct zooarchaeological and isotopic analyses on faunal collections from the southern highlands of Peru to better understand the impact of Wari state expansion into the Cusco and Arequipa regions. In 2021, I obtained a Killam Memorial Postdoctoral Fellowship to continue my research on human-animal interactions in the Andes at the University of Alberta. My research on Moche period animal management and the incorporation of animals into daily and ritual practices is ongoing. I joined the Department of Anthropology at UBC in 2022 where I began investigating the impact of Wari state expansion on food security and interregional interaction in the Nasca region.
My central research focus is on human-animal interactions – the way that different animal species influence and shape human behaviour and belief. This research allows me to explore how past foodways were changing in relation to environmental pressures. It also gives me the ability to trace animal life histories as proxies for human activities. I employ archaeological excavation, zooarchaeology, and isotope analysis to examine several key research themes:
- Moche Perceptions and Use of Animals: Documenting animal depictions in Moche artwork; patterns of animal use in foodways and as ritual offerings/sacrifices; indigenous worldviews and transforming ideas about non-human beings.
- Food Security and Interregional Interaction during Wari State Expansion: Tracing the types of animal species and local/non-local items in domestic and elite spaces in the Nasca and Cusco regions; food sharing; marine and terrestrial species exploitation; social and political meaning of animals.
- Colonization, Diet and Animal Management: Employing zooarchaeological and isotopic methods to trace animal life histories; ancient animal dental calculus and microbotany; pathology and size variation among camelids, dogs, and guinea pigs.
2023 M. Melton†, Aleksa K. Alaica†, M. Biwer, L.M. González La Rosa, G. Gordon, K. Knudson, A. VanDerwarker, J. Jennings. Reconstructing Camelid Diets and Foddering Practices During the Middle Horizon: Microbotanical and Isotope Analyses of Dental Remains from Quilcapampa, Peru. Latin American Antiquity https://doi.org/10.1017/laq.2022.80
2023 J. Jennings, Aleksa K. Alaica, M. Biwer. Beer, Drugs, and Meat: Termination Ritual Feasting and Wari Statecraft. Archaeology of Food and Foodways https://doi.org/10.1558/aff.20801
2022 Aleksa K. Alaica, L.M. González La Rosa, Willy Yépez Álvarez and Justin Jennings. The Day the Music Died: Making and Playing Bone Wind Instruments at La Real in Middle Horizon, Peru (600-1000 CE). Journal of Anthropological Archaeology https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaa.2022.101459
2022 Aleksa K. Alaica, B.K. Scaffidi, L.M. González La Rosa, J. Jennings, K. Knudson, T. Tung. Flexible agropastoral strategies during the 1st millennium CE in southern Peru: Examining yunga Arequipa camelid husbandry practices during Wari expansion through stable isotope analysis (δ13C and δ15N) in the Majes and Sihuas Valleys. Quaternary International 634: 48-64.
2022 E. Plomp, C. Stantis, H.F. James, C. Cheung, C. Snoeck, L. Kootker, A. Kharobi, C. Borges, D.K. Moreiras Reynaga, L. Pospieszny, F. Fulminante, R. Stevens, Aleksa K. Alaica, A. Becker, X. de Rochefort, and K. Salesse. The IsoArcH initiative: Working towards an open and collaborative isotope data culture in bioarchaeology. Data in Brief https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dib.2022.108595
2022 J. Warner and Aleksa K. Alaica. Contextualizing the Influence of Climate and Culture on Bivalve Populations: Donax obesulus Malacology from the North Coast of Peru. Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology
2021 J. Jennings, W. Yépez Álvarez, S. Bautista, B.K. Scaffidi, T.A. Tung, Aleksa K. Alaica, S. Berquist, L.M. González La Rosa and B. Rizzuto. Funerary Traditions, Population Aggregation, and the Ayllu in Late Intermediate Period Sihuas Valley, Peru. Latin American Antiquity 32(3):517-535. https://doi.org/10.1017/laq.2021.15
2020 Aleksa K. Alaica. Inverted Worlds, Nocturnal States and Flying Mammals: Bats and their Symbolic Meaning in Moche Iconography. Arts: Animals in Ancient Material Cultures 9(4):107. https://doi.org/10.3390/arts9040107
2020 B.K. Scaffidi, T. Tung, G. Gordon, Aleksa K. Alaica, L.M. González La Rosa, S. Marsteller, A. Dahlstedt, E. Schach and K. Knudson. Drinking Locally: Testing a Surface Water 87Sr/86Sr Isoscape for Geolocation of Archaeological Samples in the Andes. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution
2020 Aleksa K. Alaica, L.M. González La Rosa and K. Knudson. Creating a body-subject in the Late Moche Period (CE 650-850). Bioarchaeological and biogeochemical analyses of human offerings from Huaca Colorada, Jequetepeque Valley, Peru. World Archaeology 52(1):49-70.
2020 B. Osipov, Aleksa K. Alaica, C. Pickard, J. Garcia-Donas, N. Márquez-Grant and E. Kranioti. The Effect of Diet and Sociopolitical Change on Physiological Stress and Behavior in in the Late Roman-Early Byzantine (300-700AD) and Islamic (902-1235AD) Populations from Ibiza, Spain. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 172:189-213. https://doi.org/10.1002/ajpa.24062
2020 Aleksa K. Alaica†, D. Desmarais† and S. Rhodes†. Zooarchaeology and Landscape Interaction: A short introduction. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 29:1-3. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jasrep.2019.102081
2019 Aleksa K. Alaica and L.M. González La Rosa. A Look to the North and South: Camelid Herding Strategies in the Desert Coast of Peru. Archaeological Review from Cambridge Volume 34.1(Desert Archaeology):143-163.
2019 Aleksa K. Alaica, J. Clayton, A. Dalton, E. Kranioti, G. G. Echavarri and C. Pickard. Variability along the Frontier: Stable Carbon and Nitrogen Isotope Ratio Analysis of Human Remains from the Late Roman-Early Byzantine Cemetery of Joan Planells, Ibiza, Spain. Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences 11(8):3783-3796. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12520-018-0656-0
2018 Aleksa K. Alaica. Partial and Complete Burials and Depictions: Social Zooarchaeology, Iconography and the Role of Animals in Late Moche Peru. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 20:864-872.
2014 L. Maher, D. Macdonald, Aleksa K. Alaica, J.T. Stock, and E.B. Banning. Exploring Early Epipalaeolithic Occupations in Northern Jordan: Two Sites from Wadi Taiyiba. Paléorient 40(1):73-97. https://www.jstor.org/stable/24672270
Peer-Reviewed Book Chapters:
2023 V. Bélisle, Aleksa K. Alaica and M. Brown. Private Dinners and Public Feasts: Food as Political Action in Middle Horizon Cusco. In Foodways of the Ancient Andes: Transforming Diet, Cuisine, and Society, edited by Deborah Blom and Marta Alfonso-Duruty. University of Arizona Press, Tucson (Winner of the Amerind Award – SAA 2020) https://uapress.arizona.edu/book/foodways-of-the-ancient-andes
2023 M. Biwer, Aleksa K. Alaica, P. Quiñonez Cuzcano. Everyday and Extraordinary Meals in the Wari Empire: Zooarchaeological and Paleoethnobotanical Evidence from the site of Quilcapampa La Antigua. In Foodways of the Ancient Andes: Transforming Diet, Cuisine, and Society, edited by Deborah Blom and Marta Alfonso-Duruty. University of Arizona Press, Tucson (Winner of the Amerind Award – SAA 2020) https://uapress.arizona.edu/book/foodways-of-the-ancient-andes
2022 Aleksa K. Alaica. Alterity, Authority and Ancestors: Exploring Monkey Images in Moche Iconography of North Coast Peru. In World Archeoprimatology: Interconnections of Humans and Nonhuman Primates in the Past, edited by Bernardo Urbani, Dionisios Youlatos and Andrzej Antczak, pp. 132-152. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
2022 Aleksa K. Alaica, L.M. González La Rosa, L. Muro Ynoñán, G. Gordon and K. Knudson. Camelid Caravans and Middle Horizon Exchange Networks: Insights from the Late Moche Jequetepeque Valley of Northern Peru. In Caravans in Socio-Cultural Perspective: Past and Present, edited by Persis Clarkson and Calogero Santoro, pp. 122-144. Routledge, London. https://www.routledge.com/Caravans-in-Socio-Cultural-Perspective-Past-and-Present/Clarkson-Santoro/p/book/9780367772994
2021 Aleksa K. Alaica, P. Quiñonez Cuzcano and L.M. González La Rosa. Eating and Feasting: Vertebrate and Invertebrate Remains from Quilcapampa. Quilcapampa: A Wari Colony in a Networked Horizon, edited by Justin Jennings, Willy Yépez Álvarez and Stefanie Bautista, pp. 350-391. University of Florida Press, Gainesville. https://upf.com/book.asp?id=9780813066783
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada – Insight Development Grant 2022-2024
Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research – Workshop Grant 2022-2023
Hampton Faculty Grant – UBC 2022-2024
Cluster Grant – Latin American Landscapes – UBC 2022-2024 (PI: Ben Bryce)