David G. Beresford-Jones

David G. Beresford-Jones
University of Cambridge | Cam · McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research

PhD

About

99
Publications
29,912
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999
Citations
Citations since 2017
39 Research Items
642 Citations
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Introduction
My research interests are: the foundations of complex society and the origins of agriculture; human impacts on past ecosystems and landscapes; South American archaeology; archaeobotany (particularly charcoal), geomorphology (particularly of arid lands); the synthesis of archaeology and other disciplines (particularly linguistics); the Upper Palaeolithic in Europe; the Mesolithic in South America; and Pre-Colombian textile and fabric technologies.

Publications

Publications (99)
Article
Full-text available
Moseley’s (1975) Maritime Foundations of Andean Civilization hypothesis challenges, in one of humanity’s few pristine hearths of civilization, the axiom that agriculture is necessary for the rise of complex societies. We revisit that hypothesis by setting new findings from La Yerba II (7571–6674 Cal bp) and III (6485–5893 Cal bp), Río Ica estuary,...
Article
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We present stable isotope and osteological data from human remains at Paloma, Chilca I, La Yerba III, and Morro I that offer new evidence for diet, lifestyle, and habitual mobility in the first villages that proliferated along the arid Pacific coast of South America (ca. 6000 cal BP). The data not only reaffirm the dietary primacy of marine protein...
Article
Full-text available
Shell middens are conspicuous manifestations of the exploitation of rich, sustainable, easily seen and harvested marine resources that, worldwide, enabled hunter-gatherers to reduce mobility and increase population and social complexity. Globally, known sites tend to cluster chronologically around 6 k BP, after slowing eustatic sea-level rise, alth...
Article
Past environments of the south coast of Peru were significantly different from those prevailing today. Here, in one of the world's driest deserts, life flourished, as it does today, in riverine oases along the watercourses rising in the Andean hinterlands; and in ephemeral fog oases (lomas) along the littoral. These habitats were the foundation of...
Article
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El estudio de la cerámica prehispánica del valle de Ica ha posibilitado la construcción de una secuencia maestra y una propuesta cronológica andina. Además, se transformó en una herramienta importante para posteriores estudios en esta área, principalmente para los periodos más tempranos. Sin embargo, el tránsito del Horizonte Medio al Intermedio Ta...
Article
The Andes offers a particularly effective focus for an archaeology of mobility because their extreme topography compresses enormous vertical resource diversity across short horizontal distances. In this article, the authors combine findings from two large-scale archaeological studies of adjacent watersheds—the Nasca-Palpa Project and One River Proj...
Article
Today the Lower Ica Valley (Peru) exhibits evidence of environmental degradation, strong activity of deposition and erosion processes through modifying agents such as water and wind. All of this is the product of a long process of environmental transformation both during and since pre-Columbian times. Archaeological remains present in this valley e...
Article
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While remote sensing data have long been widely used in archaeological prospection over large areas, the task of examining such data is time consuming and requires experienced and specialist analysts. However, recent technological advances in the field of artificial intelligence (AI), and in particular deep learning methods, open possibilities for...
Article
Full-text available
Humans have engineered their environments throughout the Holocene, especially in the construction of hydraulic infrastructure. In many regions, however, this infrastructure is difficult to date, including the vestiges of water-management systems in the Andean highlands. Focusing on silt reservoirs in the upper Ica drainage, Peru, the authors use co...
Chapter
This chapter reviews the ancient role of the genus Prosopis in the long processes of co-evolution between humans and parts of their environment that made the Andean Region one of humanity’s rare pristine hearths of agriculture and civilization. Prosopis trees on the coast of Peru can live for over a millennium and have long provided people with inv...
Article
Frédéric Engel (1981:24), el pionero de los estudios del Precerámico en el Perú, argumentó que la distribución de los sitios arqueológicos durante el Holoceno temprano fue determinada por “la capacidad de las lomas” –oasis estacionales producidos por la humedad oceánica que están presentes a lo largo de la costa del Perú– una proposición que aún se...
Conference Paper
For nearly 600 years the Ica society flourished in the vast deserts of the Peruvian south coast. Rising to considerable regional influence during the Late Intermediate Period (c.1000-1476CE), little is known of its origins or later years. Our recent excavations in the lower Ica Valley have begun to address these gaps in our knowledge and shed furth...
Book
Full-text available
Nowhere on Earth is there an ecological transformation so swift and so extreme as between the snow-line of the high Andes and the tropical rainforest of Amazonia. The different disciplines that research the human past in South America have long tended to treat these two great subzones of the continent as self-contained enough to be taken independen...
Article
Maritime Communities of the Ancient Andes. GABRIEL PRIETO and DANIEL H. SANDWEISS, editors. 2020. University Press of Florida, Gainesville. xxviii + 443 pp. $125.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-81306-614-1. - Volume 31 Issue 2 - David G. Beresford-Jones
Article
Full-text available
There are many unanswered questions about the population history of the Central and South Central Andes, particularly regarding the impact of large-scale societies, such as the Moche, Wari, Tiwanaku, and Inca. We assembled genome-wide data on 89 individuals dating from ∼9,000-500 years ago (BP), with a particular focus on the period of the rise and...
Article
Circular features made from mammoth bone are known from across Upper Palaeolithic Eastern Europe, and are widely identified as dwellings. The first systematic flotation programme of samples from a recently discovered feature at Kostenki 11 in Russia has yielded assemblages of charcoal, burnt bone and microlithic debitage. New radiocarbon dates prov...
Article
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Recent excavations carried out inside two household structures (E19 and E12) in Viejo Sangayaico B (Huancavelica, Peru) reveal how the inhabitants of both structures possessed an elite status associated with the Inca administration of the settlement during the Late Horizon. Likewise, differences in the quality and quantity of European goods consume...
Article
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We present a multi-proxy study of environmental conditions during and after the recessional phases of pro-glacial Lake Algonquin in the vicinity of the North Bay outlet, Great Lakes Basin. Data presented comes from a new sedimentary profile obtained from the Balsam Creek kettle lake c. 34 km northeast of the city of North Bay. This site lies close...
Chapter
Full-text available
Se presenta la información de campo y las primeras reflexiones obtenidas a partir de las excavaciones en el sitio arqueológico Cerro Huamán, un establecimiento ocupado durante el periodo Intermedio Tardío (ca. 1000-1470 d.C.) en la cuenca de Samaca del valle bajo de Ica. Los resultados de la excavación demuestran que, durante el abandono del establ...
Article
Full-text available
This paper presents new information from funerary contexts in the lower Ica Valley, south coast of Peru, spanning two millennia from the end of the Early Horizon to the Late Intermediate Period. Although severely looted, these sites can still yield valuable information. We discuss their architecture and material culture in the context of radiocarbo...
Chapter
Full-text available
Lomas are seasonal oases sustained by ocean fogs, which flourish along the arid Pacific coast of Peru. Frédéric Engel (1973 : 271), a pioneer of Peruvian Preceramic archaeology, long ago noted that their importance ‘to prehistoric human geography, in their capacity as food- and water-producing areas, has been practically ignored’ : a situation not...
Article
Within arid regions allochthonous rivers as a main source of fresh water play a significant role in the spatial organisation of human occupation. This study aims at a comprehensive view on changes in the prehistoric occupation patterns within the Río Ica catchment on the southern coast of Peru. Results of different research projects are integrated....
Article
Full-text available
En este trabajo nos centramos en el sitios arqueológico de Viejo Sangayaico (SAN 1) que data del Intermedio Tardío (1000 - 1480 d.C), el Horizon te Tardío (1480-1532 d.C.) con una fuerte ocupación Inca, y posteriormente con una ocupación Colonial (1532-1615 d.C.). Ubicado a 3650 m, el sitio SAN 1 de 20 ha., fue asentamiento importante de la etnia C...
Article
Full-text available
Lomas ? ephemeral seasonal oases sustained by ocean fogs ? were critical to ancient human ecology on the desert Pacific coast of Peru: one of humanity?s few independent hearths of agriculture and ?pristine? civilisation. The role of climate change since the Late Pleistocene in determining productivity and extent of past lomas ecosystems has been mu...
Article
This paper draws attention to firewood as a raw material resource that was gathered, processed and consumed on a daily basis by Palaeolithic groups. Using Gravettian occupation of the Pavlovské Hills as a case study (dated to around 30,000 years B.P.), we investigate firewood availability using ] archaeological, palaeoenvironmental and ecological d...
Technical Report
Full-text available
Report on archaeological fieldwork in the Lomas de Amara y Ullujaya, lower Ica Valley, south coast Peru, filed with and approved by the Ministerio de Cultura Peru.
Article
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This article presents radiocarbon dates from human bone samples (n = 13) from seven pre-Columbian cemeteries in the Samaca and Ullujaya Basins of the lower Ica Valley, south coast of Peru, spanning from the end of the Early Horizon to the Inca Late Horizon. These contexts have been severely looted. Yet, in all cases, their putative dating by materi...
Chapter
Full-text available
Among various potential “windows on our past,” one rich seam of data is all too often overlooked: the linguistic record. Above all, much of the world is so dominated by just a handful of vast language lineages as to cry out for explanation. That explanation, moreover, can only lie in the same contexts and processes that shaped humanity’s cultural a...
Chapter
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The farming/language dispersals hypothesis, most simply put, proposes that many of the world’s most significant language families – in both geographical range and speaker numbers – dispersed along with, and primarily thanks to, the spread of agriculture. The entry on [Farming-Language Dispersals (1): Principles] in this encyclopedia explores the ra...
Article
The classic image of Upper Palaeolithic hunter-gatherers in Europe envisages them hunting large mammals in largely treeless landscapes. That is partly due to the nature of the surviving archaeological evidence, and the poor preservation of plant remains at such ancient sites. As this study illustrates, however, the potential of Upper Palaeolithic s...
Technical Report
Full-text available
Final report on archaeological fieldwork at La Yerba II and Samaca H-8, lower Ica Valley, south coast Peru, filed with and approved by Ministerio de Cultura, Peru
Article
Full-text available
Palaeodietary isotope studies have long assumed C4 signals in South American archaeological populations to be due to the consumption of maize (Zea mays), which in turn, underlie interpretations important social processes. We presents δ13C data from wild plants (n = 89) from the south coast of Peru, which may have been significant in the diets of hu...
Book
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The Andes are of unquestioned significance to the human story: a cradle of agriculture and of 'pristine' civilisation with a pedigree of millennia. The Incas were but the culmination of a succession of civilisations that rose and fell to leave one of the richest archaeological records on Earth. By no coincidence, the Andes are home also to our grea...
Chapter
Full-text available
This chapter sums up the new state of the cross-disciplinary art in Andean prehistory, as collectively represented by the foregoing chapters. Progress and new perspectives are explored first on key individual questions. Who, for instance, were the Incas, and whence and when did they come to Cuzco? How and when did Quechua, too, reach Cuzco, as well...
Chapter
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This volume is a collection which includes the text of papers presented at the September 2008 Cambridge Symposium on Archaeology and Linguistics in the Andes. The Cambridge symposium sought to bring together the disciplines of linguistics and archaeology, in order to dispel a number of popular myths about the language history of the Andes. This int...
Article
Transposable elements (TEs) are drivers of evolution resulting in episodic surges of genetic innovation and genomic reorganization (Oliver KR, Greene WK. 2009. TEs: powerful facilitators of evolution. Bioessays 31:703-714.), but there is little evidence of the timescale in which this process has occurred (Gingerich PD. 2009. Rates of evolution. Ann...
Article
Full-text available
This paper presents archaeobotanical and invertebrate evidence from the flotation and analyses of 46 archaeological contexts from six middens from the Samaca and Ullujaya basins, lower Ica Valley, south coast of Peru. This is part of one of the world’s driest deserts and organic remains can enjoy extraordinary preservation in its hyperarid climate....
Article
Full-text available
Precisely how Upper Palaeolithic human ecology was shaped by changing climate during the Pleniglacial remains a matter of debate, for while this generally cold period is now understood to include complex and often rapid flux in climate, there are still considerable difficulties in resolving climatic variations at particular times and places — deriv...
Chapter
This chapter explores the archaeology of the lower Ica Valley. This is based upon many seasons of archaeological fieldwork with the purpose of gathering different datasets with which to reconstruct geomorphological, ecological, and land-use changes in the Samaca and Ullujaya basins. The chapter looks at the rich archaeological record in these basin...
Chapter
This chapter sets out the geomorphological history of the basins of the lower Ica Valley — those processes of erosion and deposition which have formed and destroyed their archaeological record, and indeed given rise to today's landscape there. It reviews the results and interpretations of the geomorphological survey, which included: the definition...
Chapter
Full-text available
The huarango are a species of the genus Prosopis , one of the most common plants found along the watercourses of New World deserts and members of a family of nitrogen-fixing, bean-producing plants — the legumes — whose importance to humankind is second only to that of the cereal grasses and with which our relationship is even older. Today, percepti...
Chapter
This chapter examines the ancient plant and other remains recovered from excavations. The purpose of archaeobotanical work was to reconstruct the human utilisation of plants in the past. The excavations focused on archaeological middens — the rubbish of ancient settlement. This is because they offer a record of human ecology, not least of changing...
Chapter
Full-text available
The loss of riparian woodland recorded in the archaeological and geomorphological records of the basins of the lower Ica Valley is but one early part of a larger and still ongoing history of the deforestation of the coast of Peru. This is an old and gradual story that can be read through the Spanish chronicles, administrative records, and recent me...
Chapter
The relationship between humans and the genus Prosopis in the arid lands of the New World is almost as ancient as human occupation itself. This chapter explores this in one particular part of these American drylands: the Sonoran Desert of the south-western United States or, to be more specific, within the riparian basins of the Salt and Gila rivers...
Chapter
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This chapter considers the subtler role of Prosopis in underpinning a fragile desert ecology. It is perhaps difficult to exaggerate the dominance of this genus within its desert environments, especially on the coast of Peru, where rather few tree species occur naturally. It is shown that no other desert tree has as pervasive an influence upon the s...
Chapter
This chapter describes the area of interest — the basins of the lower Ica Valley on the Peruvian south coast — which lies within one of the world's oldest and driest deserts. It starts by examining the causes of that desert's age and extreme aridity. It distinguishes the climate, geology, geomorphology, and hydrology of the south coast from the res...
Chapter
Full-text available
This book began with the archaeology of the Ullujaya and Samaca basins of the lower Ica Valley on the south coast of Peru. The archaeological investigations described here were undertaken to answer the following questions. Were these basins ever significantly more productive and vegetated landscapes? If so, when and how did change take place, and w...
Chapter
Full-text available
Just as “cultures” and “peoples” have fallen from grace in archaeological theory, so too have simplistic attempts to associate them uniquely with any particular language – witness the furore surrounding “The Celts”. Rightly so; but equally, we should beware of throwing out with this bathwater the great potential of language prehistory to inform oth...
Chapter
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This chapter proposes a new and more coherent interdisciplinary prehistory of the Andes, based firstly on a long overdue re-examination of the relationships between the various regional 'dialects' within the Quechua language family; and secondly on a more satisfactory correlation with the archaeological record. The founding principle is that langua...
Book
Full-text available
This book presents an archaeological case of prehistoric human environmental impact: a study of ecological and cultural change from the arid south coast of Peru, beginning around 750 BC and culminating in a collapse during the Middle Horizon, around AD 900. Its focus is the lower Ica Valley - today depopulated and bereft of cultivation and yet with...