Montane Foragers: Asana and the South-Central Andean Archaic

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An archaeological study of the Asana river valley was conducted — The valley floors and hill slopes, covering an area of 4. Human habitation has been traced to 10, BP at Asana. Excavations have revealed six stratigraphic zones from 10, BP to BP, before the site became abandoned in BP. The period from 10, BP to 9, BP is interpreted as belonging to the Late Pleistocene age, years prior to any type of permanent habitation in other areas of the south central Andean highlands.

Over the centuries, the guanaco were domesticated. The Asana at the lower elevation had formed the base camp of the earliest settlers who were hunter gatherers, hunting guanaco and taruca.

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Up to BP, settlement became more permanent. The gradual change from forager over to the pastoral society was recorded between and BP. If these limits increased then they would establish new camps. Lithic material found at the site attests to the shifting of camps and supports links existing between the settlements of the lower and upper elevations.

Steadman, C. Chavez, K. Frye, L. Onofre Mamani, M. Seddon, and P. Calisaya Wirrmann, D, and P. Mourguiart References Lynch, T. Andean Past 2: 1— Temme, M. References Aldenderfer, M. Cardona, A. Oquiche Klarich, E. Santoro, C. Hidalgo, V. Schiappacasse, H. Niemeyer, C. Aldunate, and I. Santiago: Editorial Andres Bello, 33— Watanabe, L. Lima: Museo Peruano de Ciencias de la Salud, — References Burger, R. Asaro, and H. Michel Andean Past 2: 33— Chobshi Cave in Retrospect. New York: Academic Press, 65— References Cardich, A. Cardich, Lauricocha: Fundamentos para una Prehistoria de los Andes Centrales.

References Rick, J. References MacNeish, R. II: Excavations and Chronology, ed. MacNeish, A. Cook, L. Lumbreras, R. Vierra, and A. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 19— Lima: Instituto Nacional de Cultura, 51— Julien, and J. Wheeler References Ravines, R. The latter artefacts may have been the result of some exchange with other groups located on the littoral.

Thus, Pernil Alto represents a permanent sedentary site with an economy that can be subscribed as "horticultural with additional foraging". This is an important step in the development that led to established agriculture in the Central Andes and later formed the basis for complex societies. It is furthermore significant that a site like this was located inland on the Andean piedmont and not on the Pacific littoral, where marine resources still exceeded the use of cultivated plants. Palaeoclimatic situation and palaeolandscape reconstruction.

The questions raised here now inquire under which climatic conditions a permanent settlement independent from the coastal resources could develop and if those conditions could have influenced this development? Currently, the landscape around Pernil Alto is one of the driest in the world. Local precipitation amounts only to 5. Nevertheless, the area is agriculturally very productive.

This productivity is restricted to the fertile valleys of rivers that cross the desert plain from the highlands towards the coast. The catchments of the rivers are located within the highland areas, where rainfalls originating from the Amazon basin converge The water of the rivers is currently used in a complex and well organized irrigation system to make nearly year round agriculture possible. The fertile alluvial sediments in the river beds form the basis of this desert agriculture. These sediments are or were brought there by flooding events.

An additional feature contributing to the productivity of the South Peruvian coastal desert is the coastal mountain range cordillera de la costa that reaches up to m a. Thus, in the longitudes of the Southern Peruvian coastal plain fronted by the coastal mountains days of the year are sunny with a daily average of 7. Starting from Pernil Alto, different current ecological zones are located within specific distances. In general, vegetation increases very slightly towards the east, which is at the same time an increase in altitude.

Machtle 47 distinguished three cacti-zones that are located vertically in three succeeding altitude levels. The first zone begins at about m a. However, the vegetation in these cactizones is, in general, extremely sparse and composed of cacti and small shrubs and grasses at higher altitudes. Towards the west outside the river valleys there is no vegetation at all. These lomas do not exist any longer and it is impossible to make them visible via colour-exaggeration on Landsat-pictures Thus, Pernil Alto is situated in a desert area with a very slight vegetation increase towards the east and with rivers that give rise to fertile river oases.

Eitel et al. This loess was palaeo-accumulated and had to be fixed originally by a grass cover that is typical for loess accumulations. This grass cover was proved by phytoliths and remains of distinct snail species which were recovered from the loess deposits Based on several samples and datings of the loess cover, it was possible to reconstruct palaeoclimatic variations in the area of Palpa The landscape was characterized -based on the loess that was accumulated- as "open grassland" Thus, climatic conditions during the Middle Archaic occupation of Pernil Alto were far more favourable than today.

As precipitation originates east of the area around Pernil Alto -which corresponds with an increasing altitude in the same direction- and precipitation was higher during the Middle Archaic Period, vegetation in the landscape of the Middle Archaic Period probably reached farther westward and into lower altitudes than today. Loess that indicates grass vegetation accumulated in patches at altitudes of m a. At altitudes between and m a. Above m a. The area around and east of Pernil Alto was covered by a sparse grass steppe that is indicated by the distribution of the loess accumulated in patches at altitudes of m a.

These patches were not necessarily the result of an uncontinuous accumulation, but rather resulted from a less dense accumulation that was more strongly affected by erosion and thus remained in patches This at least sparse grassland could have been the natural habitat of cervids. East of that sparse grassland, at altitudes of m a. Between and m a. Beginning at about m a. No loess accumulation was registered to the west of Pernil Alto and an arid desert comparable to the current situation can be estimated Thus, rich marine resources depending on the cold Humboldt upwelling water can be estimated on the littoral.

As higher precipitation rates fed the highland river catchments, the river valley vegetation in the form of riparian forests and huarango Prosopis pallida stands was probably much denser than today. Those trees were probably not cleared on a large scale during the Middle Archaic Period. Furthermore, the close river banks were probably wetter in general and flooding events more frequent making the river banks more suitable for non-irrigation-based planting. Close to the coast, lomas can be at assumed at least in their last mapped extension Lomas attract guanacos which dismount during the flowering periods of the lomas reaching them by following the rivers Within this reconstruction Pernil Alto was -in great contrast to the current situation- situated in a very favourable surrounding.

Fields or gardens were possibly located in the area of an ancient river meander south of the spur of the site that offered humid and fertile land. The cultivation of lima beans and sweet potatoes can be assumed there. The riparian forest and the huarango vegetation offered possibilities for intense collection that is demonstrated by the huarango remains at the site. Within a distance of three hours by foot 63 , grass land was accessible that is the natural habitat of cervids and during the flowering period of the lomas guanacos that passed the site can be assumed.

Both -cervids and guanacos- were hunted animals, although not to a great extent. The littoral of the Pacific Ocean, in contrast, was reachable within about 12 hours of exclusive walking, making it an intense one-day or a regular two-day trip. The puna in the east was reachable in more or less the same time, but the area of Quispisisa, the probable origin of the obsidian found in Pernil Alto, was at a distance of more than 24 walking hours.

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Thus, the earliest permanent horticultural settlement of Southern Peru known so far did not develop in a landscape situation that could be described as critical or hard, producing pressure to change the way of life of the inhabitants. The opposite is the case: The earliest horticulture developed -according to landscape reconstruction and information on the Middle Archaic occupation of Pernil Alto- under very favourable conditions when compared to today's situation.

Thus, the outset of this new economy was more an opportunity embraced, rather than a provoked reaction. The above outlined diachronic changes in the ratios of the used food plants could furthermore reflect short scale climatic variations. There are a number of possible scenarios to explain such a trend. Phase 0 is very time-spanning, but in general a stepwise economical change towards horticulture seems to be visible.

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The decreasing trend, on the other hand, could have had different reasons. Cultural decisions, conflicts, epidemics etc. There is no information available on that. Conversely, it is clear that climatic conditions could affect the yield of a harvest. Thus, a climatic micro-trend is possibly visible within the plant ratios of Pernil Alto.

Climatic micro-trends are difficult to react to in horticultural economies without established techniques, such as irrigation, so that a reaction could have been to conduct more collecting and foraging. Thus, the other one of the two obsidian projectile points found in Pernil Alto dates to phase 4.

Nevertheless, these ideas can be nothing more than assumptions that have to be proven by further palaeoclimatic and archaeological research. Palaeoclimatic situation during the Middle Archaic Period in the central Andes. The favourable situation of the Middle Archaic Period in the area of Pernil Alto cannot be extrapolated to the entire Central Andes region.

In contrast to the area around Palpa, there are records of more arid or less favourable climatic conditions than today from other areas. Thus, Lake Titicaca had a low water level during the mid-Holocene, indicating more arid conditions than today Comparable conditions were reconstructed for lakes in the Northern Chile Altiplano In the area between Lake Titicaca and the Northern Chile Altiplano, the investigation of ice-cores showed warmer and more arid conditions than today in the Bolivian Altiplano On the other hand, there are indications for more humid conditions than today in other parts of the Central Andes.

From the Quebrada de los Burros site on the Southern Peruvian coast more humid conditions are reported between about and cal BP Until cal BP, the area near Arequipa was more humid than it is today Multiproxy studies from the Laguna Acuelo in Central Chile indicate a trend towards more humidity between and cal BP Lake Aricota in Southern Peru reached a high water level between and cal BP, indicating wetter conditions than today as well The differences between areas with more arid or more humid microclimates than today could be explained, at least in part, by a possible shift of the Bolivian High that may have impacted moisture transport in the Central Andes during the mid-Holocene However, it appears that the palaeoclimate during the Middle Archaic Period was not wetter or drier across the entire Central Andes, but that there was a coexistence of different microclimatic areas.

Therefore, the Middle Archaic occupation of Pernil Alto was situated in favourable conditions, but at the same time other areas -more or less close by- showed very unfavourable conditions.


This situation probably produced a "push and pull" mechanism Human groups in areas with less favourable conditions were rather "forced" to leave those areas, although entire populations did not need to be "pushed out" of those less favourable areas. In contrast, the more favourable areas were probably more attractive to human groups. These landscapes had a "pulling effect". Within the favourable areas, human groups could apply techniques that they had already developed -the cultivation of plants- but never implemented with a status of higher importance.

This scenario fits well to the considerations of human-environmental-interactions by B. Eitel 75 in which both aspects -human decision mechanisms and environmental conditions- are interrelated factors of cultural development in the sense of change. Nevertheless, the idea of an interplay between "pushing" and "pulling" landscapes within the process of beginning agriculture in the Central Andes needs more archaeological and palaeo-environmental research.

Pernil Alto was a permanent settlement with an economy based on horticulture with additional foraging. The techniques of this new economy in Southern Peru were invented elsewhere. Domesticated food plants were already known. But the establishment of the new economy using those techniques was new. It took place in an "off-shore" area, some 60 km inland, so that marine resources were rather unimportant.

Furthermore, it took place under favourable conditions and thus was rather the em-bracement of an opportunity and not a reaction to environmental pressure. The development might have been caused or intensified by the coexistence of more favourable and less favourable landscapes in different microclimatic areas in the Central Andes.

In order to clarify this assumption, further research is necessary that concentrates more on the Andean piedmont than on the littoral or the highlands. Recibido: 18 de noviembre de Aceptado: 20 de febrero de Aldenderfer, M. Asana and the south-central Andean archaic. Iowa City.

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Montane Foragers: Asana and the South-Central Andean Archaic Montane Foragers: Asana and the South-Central Andean Archaic
Montane Foragers: Asana and the South-Central Andean Archaic Montane Foragers: Asana and the South-Central Andean Archaic
Montane Foragers: Asana and the South-Central Andean Archaic Montane Foragers: Asana and the South-Central Andean Archaic
Montane Foragers: Asana and the South-Central Andean Archaic Montane Foragers: Asana and the South-Central Andean Archaic
Montane Foragers: Asana and the South-Central Andean Archaic Montane Foragers: Asana and the South-Central Andean Archaic
Montane Foragers: Asana and the South-Central Andean Archaic Montane Foragers: Asana and the South-Central Andean Archaic
Montane Foragers: Asana and the South-Central Andean Archaic Montane Foragers: Asana and the South-Central Andean Archaic
Montane Foragers: Asana and the South-Central Andean Archaic Montane Foragers: Asana and the South-Central Andean Archaic

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