Natural Resources, School of


Date of this Version

February 2007


Published in International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 17:5 (2007), pp. 531–541; doi 10.1002/oa.886. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Used by permission.


The published pollen analysis of the Dos Cabezas giants, Geyer et al. ([2003]), lists a variety of purported dietary pollen types. The paper also hypothesizes that the giants were poisoned with plant toxins. We have severe reservations about the pollen evidence of diet and poisoning. We suggest that the analysts made several errors in their interpretation. Firstly, some of the discovered pollen types are not prehistoric endemics to the Dos Cabezas region of coastal Peru. These include the pollen of fava beans (cultivated in the Old World), and specified species of agave and sage. We believe that some or all of the identifications of pollen from arracacha, maca, yuca, oca, potato, peanut, ciruela and tarwi are in error based on the distance they grow from Dos Cabezas and/or their ecological/pollination requirements. We think that it is unlikely that the giants were poisoned because the poisons made from six poisonous plants are not made from the flowers and five of them grow on the opposite side of the Andes from Dos Cabezas. We present an alternative dietary interpretation of the Dos Cabezas giants and suggest methods by which palynological analysis could be improved.