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Investigations of how past human societies managed during times of major climate change can inform our understanding of potential human responses to ongoing environmental change. In this study, we evaluate the impact of environmental variation on human communities over the last four millennia in the southern Lake Titicaca basin of the Andes, known as Lake Wiñaymarka. Refined paleoenvironmental reconstructions from new diatom-based reconstructions of lake level together with archaeological evidence of animal and plant resource use from sites on the Taraco Peninsula, Bolivia, reveal frequent climate and lake-level changes within major cultural phases. We posit that climate fluctuations alone do not explain major past social and political transformations but instead that a highly dynamic environment contributed to the development of flexible and diverse subsistence practices by the communities in the Titicaca Basin.
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The Rise and Fall of Wiñaymarka: Rethinking Cultural
and Environmental Interactions in the Southern Basin of Lake Titicaca
Maria C. Bruno
&José M. Capriles
&Christine A. Hastorf
&Sherilyn C. Fritz
&D. Marie Weide
&Alejandra I. Domic
Paul A. Baker
Accepted: 9 February 2021
#The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2021
Investigations of how past human societies managed during times of major climate change can inform our understanding of
potential human responses to ongoing environmental change. In this study, we evaluate the impact of environmental variation on
human communities over the last four millennia in the southern Lake Titicaca basin of the Andes, known as Lake Wiñaymarka.
Refined paleoenvironmental reconstructions from new diatom-based reconstructions of lake level together with archaeological
evidence of animal and plant resource use from sites on the Taraco Peninsula, Bolivia, reveal frequent climate and lake-level
changes within major cultural phases. We posit that climate fluctuations alone do not explain major past social and political
transformations but instead that a highly dynamic environment contributed to the development of flexible and diverse subsistence
practices by the communities in the Titicaca Basin.
Keywords Lake Titicaca .Human-environmental interactions .Lake-level change .Subsistence diversification .Environmental
archaeology .Bolivia .Peru
The study of past human-environmental relationships in differ-
ent settings globally has been integral to defining the
Anthropocene (Erlandson and Braje 2013) and informing deci-
sions of how human communities might respond more effective-
ly to the ongoing climate crisis (Barnes et al. 2013;Redman
et al. 2004). The first generation of large-scale, interdisciplinary
archaeological and paleoenvironmental studies, while ground-
breaking, often had low temporal and spatial resolution, which
rendered their correlation imprecise. Moreover, sometimes the
records were interpreted simplistically to suggest that climate
variability was the major influence on the rise and fall of ancient
societies (Contreras 2016;Rosen2007). Increasingly collabora-
tive projects among paleoscientists are improving the quality of
data collection, synthesis, and interpretation of past human-
environmental interactions, resulting in more nuanced, less de-
terministic interpretations that consider a variety of scales and
tempos of climatic and societal change (Dincauze 2000).
The Lake Titicaca Basin (16°S, 69°W, 3810 m.a.s.l.) in the
Andes of South America has a long, dynamic history of study
into human-environmental relationships. Beginning in the late
1980s, large-scale interdisciplinary archaeological and
paleoenvironmental studies produced the first generation of
hypotheses about the relationship between regional climate
change and human communities in this high and dry, yet pro-
ductive, region (Abbott et al. 1997;Bakeret al. 2005; Baker
et al. 2001;Binfordet al. 1997; Kolata 1993,1996; Janusek
2003;Rigsbyet al. 2003). Building on these studies, climate
change was invoked to explain the appearance of agriculture
here around 2000 BCE (Aldenderfer 2009;Marsh2015),
shifts in socio-political centers and economic practices in the
*Maria C. Bruno
Department of Anthropology & Archaeology,DickinsonCollege, 28
N. College St., Carlisle, PA 17013, USA
Department of Anthropology, The Pennsylvania State University,
State College, PA 16802, USA
Department of Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley,
232 Anthropology and Art Practice Building, Berkeley, CA 94720,
Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences and School of
Biological Sciences, University of Nebraska-Lincoln,
Lincoln, NE 68588, USA
Department of Anthropology and Department of Geosciences, The
Pennsylvania State University, State College, PA 16802, USA
Division of Earth and Ocean Sciences, Duke University,
Durham, NC 27708, USA
/ Published online: 10 March 2021
Human Ecology (2021) 49:131–145
Content courtesy of Springer Nature, terms of use apply. Rights reserved.
... Archaeologists working at numerous sites across the southern Lake Titicaca basin have developed a cultural chronology based on major developments and changes in human communities in the region (Table 2) [35][36][37][38]. This begins with the first, small groups of hunter-gatherers and ranges to the development of large states dependent on agriculture and pastoralism. ...
... While none of the cultural changes appear to correlate directly with these climatic shifts, such fluctuations were an important element of the environment in which these human communities developed and thrived. People living during each of these cultural phases experienced at least one major episode of drier, cooler conditions [35]. Learning how to adjust to such changes by shifting land use, practicing a diversity of subsistence practices including fishing, collecting, farming, and herding, as well as raising a diversity of plant and animal species, was a key to their success. ...
... Wild illama appears to have been common on the landscape and people were accustomed to collecting its seed for special occasions and possibly even food. Over this long period of time, farmers in the region experienced several cycles of warmer/wetter and drier/cooler conditions [35]. Local paleoclimate records indicate that there were several extended periods of much drier and cooler conditions in both the Middle and Late Formative periods, times when kañawa's resilient attributes would have been important, likely filling in gaps in the production of both quinoa and tubers. ...
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Kañawa/Cañihua (Chenopodium pallidicaule Aellen) is the lesser-known cousin of the domesticated Andean pseudocereal quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa Willd.). In 1970, Daniel Gade hypothesized that Andean farmers may have domesticated volunteer wild kañawa plants that occupied quinoa or potato fields after observing that they could survive harsh climatic events such as drought or frost. To revisit this question of kañawa domestication, this paper provides an overview of the current botanical, genetic, and archaeological knowledge of kañawa domestication. It then provides patterns in the presence of wild and domesticated kañawa seeds from archaeological sites in the southern Lake Titicaca Basin of Bolivia, spanning the Formative and Tiwanaku periods from approximately 1500 BCE to 1100 CE. This archaeobotanical evidence supports Gade’s hypothesis that kañawa was a later domesticate, not appearing until after 250 CE. Regional paleoclimatic evidence of frequent climatic fluctuations lends support to the argument that kañawa contributed to a diversified food supply, which could provide a buffer against climate risks.
... The Lake Titicaca Basin has a rich Late Holocene archaeological record, including villages and ceremonial sites in the watershed of Lago Menor (10) and in regions of Lago Mayor proximal to the Strait of Tiquina (11). Many previous studies of these sites related changes in cultural history to lake level and climate variability, including the potential influences of this environmental variability on the initial expansion of agriculture in the Early Formative period (ca. ...
... Reconstructions based on several of these variables provided physical and quantitative constraints on lake elevation for given time intervals, including seismic and sedimentological data (7,9,22), as well as a transfer function based on ostracod data (21). However, the temporal resolution of these prior quantitative reconstructions is low and generally insufficient for comparison with many aspects of change in the archaeological record (10). In addition, the stratigraphic record in some of these earlier studies ...
... We documented changes in water chemistry (salinity) and biotic components of the aquatic ecosystem (macrophytes, algae) using multiple inorganic and organic geochemical proxies in the sediment cores to help corroborate fluctuations inferred from the transfer function. Finally, we re-evaluated sociopolitical changes inferred from the archaeological record (10) in the context of our reconstructions of water-level change in Lake Titicaca during the Late Holocene. ...
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Holocene climate in the high tropical Andes was characterized by both gradual and abrupt changes, which disrupted the hydrological cycle and impacted landscapes and societies. High-resolution paleoenvironmental records are essential to contextualize archaeological data and to evaluate the sociopolitical response of ancient societies to environmental variability. Middle-to-Late Holocene water levels in Lake Titicaca were reevaluated through a transfer function model based on measurements of organic carbon stable isotopes, combined with high-resolution profiles of other geochemical variables and paleoshoreline indicators. Our reconstruction indicates that following a prolonged low stand during the Middle Holocene (4000 to 2400 BCE), lake level rose rapidly ~15 m by 1800 BCE, and then increased another 3 to 6 m in a series of steps, attaining the highest values after ~1600 CE. The largest lake-level increases coincided with major sociopolitical changes reported by archaeologists. In particular, at the end of the Formative Period (500 CE), a major lake-level rise inundated large shoreline areas and forced populations to migrate to higher elevation, likely contributing to the emergence of the Tiwanaku culture.
... The surface of Lake Titicaca has fluctuated considerably at decadal and centennial scales over the course of the Holocene due to changes in rainfall and evapotranspiration (27,28). While paleoecological evidence suggests that these terrestrial and aquatic food sources persisted over time with these environmental changes (27), the relative contributions of each to human diets remains uncertain. ...
... The surface of Lake Titicaca has fluctuated considerably at decadal and centennial scales over the course of the Holocene due to changes in rainfall and evapotranspiration (27,28). While paleoecological evidence suggests that these terrestrial and aquatic food sources persisted over time with these environmental changes (27), the relative contributions of each to human diets remains uncertain. Finally, as people, products, and ideas circulated via increasingly broader exchange networks beyond the basin, it is still unclear how exotic foods, such as maize, catalyzed regional processes of political integration in the Formative times before Tiwanaku grew. ...
... However, three individuals (two from the Middle Formative and one from the Late Formative) have the highest Δ 13 C Gly-Phe values, around 13&, and may have consumed more fish than others. Over time, domesticated crops and herds persisted and intensified, suggesting that people in the southern Titicaca basin developed a reliable and stable food base that allowed sustained population growth throughout both political and climatological changes (27). Despite the availability of other accessible food sources, such as aquatic wild resources, people relied most frequently on the crops and herds they grew and cared for. ...
Significance Food production systems are critical components in the emergence of complex socioecological systems. In the Andes, societal complexity has often been related to the increasing production and consumption of maize by elites, but the importance of highland cultivated crops, such as potatoes, one of the most cultivated crops in the world, and quinoa, presently recognized as a “superfood,” remains largely underappreciated. Using stable isotopes including compound-specific amino acids, we reconstruct the diets of people living in southern Lake Titicaca, where the Tiwanaku state emerged. Over time, locally produced potatoes, quinoa, and llamas, by means of increasingly intensive practices, facilitated long-term food security, which sustained population growth, contributed to increasing sociopolitical complexity, and facilitated resiliency through episodes of significant climatic variation.
... This has resulted in large variation of the lake levels, up to 20 metres during the late Holocene (Mourguiart et al. 1998;Baker et al. 2005;Abbott et al. 1997), that have lasted from the decennial to the secular scale. In the shallow and gentle slope areas of the southern part of the lake, these variations have resulted in the flooding or desiccation of large areas, which have had an impact not only on ecosystems and natural resources (Dejoux and Iltis 1992), but also on the cultural developments of the Titicaca region (Kolata 2003;Bruno et al. 2021). The reconstruction of Lake Titicaca level variations has been studied mainly through paleoenvironmental studies using sedimentary archives. ...
... Unfortunately, the resolution of our reconstruction does not allow us to evaluate precisely the amplitude and duration of these two events. However, the amplitude of these lake fluctuations is less than that of the variations during the previous period (unit 6 and 5), and does not support the hypothesis of the fall of Tiwanaku only by environmental changes as such decadal changes in Lake level were likely common in the lives of people residing in this region (Bruno et al. 2021). Figure 6. ...
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Andean societies have undergone abrupt climate changes that have affected their water resources and habitable or cultivable land. This is the case for Lake Titicaca, which has experienced fluctuations up to 20 metres during the last three millennia. Although paleoenvironmental reconstructions have provided valuable data on these lake level variations, their resolution is often not sufficient to assess their impact at the human time scale of land-use patterns. In this study, we provide a description of recent methodological developments in underwater archaeology that allows great advances in such reconstruction. Our results highlight that the level of the lake rose globally with multiple events of transgression and regression over the last two millennia. We also show that certain abrupt lake variation coincide with major transformations of the societies such as the emergence of the Tiwanaku state in the 6 th century during a major transgression.
... However, there were significant shifts through time in the importance of the different elements in this package, as indicated by changes in archaeological settlement patterns, the construction and abandonment of field systems, and archaeologically recovered botanical and faunal remains (Stanish, 2006;Janusek and Kolata, 2004;Bruno, 2014). Understanding these changes and their correlations to climate fluctuations and social/ political histories remains a central challenge (Bruno et al., 2021;Contreras, 2010). Camelid pastoralism is of particular interest because of its importance to pre-conquest Andean economies, but quantifying it through archaeological investigation is difficult (Capriles and Tripcevich, 2016). ...
... One would expect prolonged phases of reduced precipitation or high precipitation volatility to have encouraged a greater reliance on pastoralism by rendering crop yields less reliable (Browman, 1974). Apart from climate change, social and political demands also appear to have been key drivers of camelid herding (Capriles andTripcevich, 2016, Grant andLane, 2018). ...
Subsistence adaptations respond to environmental instability as well as sociopolitical demands. On the Andean altiplano, camelid husbandry is a key adaptation utilized for thousands of years to mitigate environmental risks to agricultural productivity, to facilitate transport and to generate wealth for political purposes. Here, we reconstruct the history of camelid utilization on the altiplano with fecal stanol biomarkers from Lake Orurillo in southern Peru. Biomarker samples span a 4000-year interval and document changes at centennial timescales. The abundances of individual fecal stanols appear to be less diagnostic of changes in human occupation in the Orurillo region where human population levels apparently remained far lower than those of domesticated camelids. However, ratios of human (coprostanol) to ruminant (24-ethylcoprosanol) fecal stanol concentrations demonstrate that these proxies are reliable indicators of variations in camelid herd sizes. Our data show that camelid utilization intensified after ca. 1050 CE during a severe and protracted drought that was coincident with widespread population movement away from fertile farmlands to higher elevations favorable for grazing. Camelid herds remained in high abundance around Orurillo during improved climate conditions and through the Inca era until after ca. 1500 CE when our data point to a significant disruption after European conquest. The intensification of camelid husbandry among Andean cultures is therefore linked to major environmental and sociopolitical shifts.
... The specter of drought continues to loom over Tiwanaku's collapse, but this chronology suggests there was no direct relationship. We document a rapid social collapse many generations before the twelfth century, when most studies argue for reduced precipitation [94][95][96][97]. Climate reconstructions are still being refined and the most recent lake-level reconstruction shows a relatively minor decline prior to AD 1000, not a major drought. ...
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The timing of Tiwanaku’s collapse remains contested. Here we present a generational-scale chronology of Tiwanaku using Bayesian models of 102 radiocarbon dates, including 45 unpublished dates. This chronology tracks four community practices: residing short- vs. long-term, constructing monuments, discarding decorated ceramics, and leaving human burials. Tiwanaku was founded around AD 100 and around AD 600, it became the region’s principal destination for migrants. It grew into one of the Andes’ first cities and became famous for its decorated ceramics, carved monoliths, and large monuments. Our Bayesian models show that monument building ended ~AD 720 (the median of the ending boundary). Around ~AD 910 , burials in tombs ceased as violent deaths began, which we document for the first time in this paper. Ritualized murders are limited to the century leading up to ~AD 1020 . Our clearest proxy for social networks breaking down is a precise estimate for the end of permanent residence, ~AD 1010 (970–1050 , 95% ). This major inflection point was followed by visitors who used the same ceramics until ~AD 1040 . Temporary camps lasted until roughly ~AD 1050 . These four events suggest a rapid, city-wide collapse at ~AD 1010–1050 , lasting just ~20 years (0–70 years , 95%) . These results suggest a cascading breakdown of community practices and social networks that were physically anchored at Tiwanaku, though visitors continued to leave informal burials for centuries. This generation-scale chronology suggests that collapse 1) took place well before reduced precipitation, hence this was not a drought-induced societal change and 2) a few resilient communities sustained some traditions at other sites, hence the chronology for the site of Tiwanaku cannot be transposed to all sites with similar material culture.
... yet, ancient native populations in the lake basin undoubtedly had a well-developed knowledge of the local ecosystem and diversified the exploitation of resources in response to climate variability. In the case of agriculture, the succession of dry and wet periods induced long-term cultural responses that illustrate the great resilience of human communities (Bruno et al. 2021). ...
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Over the millennia, complex and elaborate cultures have emerged in the Lake Titicaca region. Recent archaeological evidence and new environmental reconstructions spanning the last ~4500 years have enabled us to explore the interactions between cultural developments of past societies and the changing environment.
... However, Martinez et al. (2006) considered the totora to be less important as a breeding habitat for the Lake Titicaca Grebe than the less dense llacho-dominated landscapes, a view supported by recent observations by author EGMT. Furthermore, there is some palaeoecological evidence that grebe bones correlate with totora seeds, suggesting that the extent of totora has influenced the grebe population in the past (Bruno et al. 2021). In this paper we focus on the extent of the totora wetlands since we cannot differentiate between chara or other algal vegetation and llacho using satellite imagery. ...
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The Lake Titicaca Grebe Rollandia microptera is a poorly studied endemic species found in the Lake Titicaca watershed of Peru and Bolivia. Multiple surveys from the early 2000s indicated that the species was suffering a rapid population decline with an unknown cause. At the same time as these surveys, reports emerged that there was an increase in burning of the totora wetlands which are thought to be the primary habitat for the Lake Titicaca Grebe. However, since 2003, no work has been published either on the current population of the Lake Titicaca Grebe, or the extent of the totora wetlands in the Lake Titicaca region. This paper used satellite data to monitor the change in extent of habitat potentially suitable for the Lake Titicaca Grebe to determine whether habitat loss is likely to be a major driver of population declines in this species. We found that the extent of potentially suitable wetland remained stable between 2001 and 2020, though there are more local regional trends of change in extent of totora. We also found that multiple areas exist that might support Lake Titicaca Grebe populations, but where ornithological knowledge is lacking. We suggest no change to the IUCN status of the Lake Titicaca Grebe, but recommend that further fieldwork is required to monitor the species’ current population, especially in previously unstudied but potentially habitable areas.
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Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa) agriculture has been a cornerstone of highland Andean diets for thousands of years, but it has received relatively little attention from archaeologists studying diet through stable isotope analysis. In this study, we present the largest sample published to date (n = 49) of archaeological carbon (δ¹³C) and nitrogen (δ¹⁵N) stable isotope ratios in quinoa, as well as single samples of cactus (Opuntia spp.), wild bean (Trifolium amabile), and potato (Solanum tuberosum) from a Late Intermediate Period (cal ad 1250–1450) hillfort town in the western Lake Titicaca basin. Quinoa δ¹⁵N averages + 8.83‰±2.17, indicating that agricultural fields at this site were fertilized with camelid manure, but values were significantly higher in samples recovered from high-status compounds than low-status ones. This suggests that high-status groups within the community had larger camelid herds and/or older fields that had been improved with fertilizer for longer periods of time, possibly allowing their plants to be more productive than those of lower-status groups. Mean quinoa δ¹³C was − 23.95‰±0.72, which indicates that plants were not significantly more water-stressed than modern or historic comparative samples grown with similar methods. This concurs with paleoclimate data suggesting that the environment surrounding this settlement was in a period of drought recovery during the occupation. Alternatively, fertilizer may have allowed plants to combat the effects of drought without recycling sub-stomatal CO2. This study is an important contribution to research on foodways in the ancient Andes and non-cereal grain-dependent societies more broadly.
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Stable isotope studies have revolutionised our understanding of food webs, subsistence, mobility and their change through time. In the Andes, dietary stable isotopic studies have often focused on timing the adoption of maize as a staple food and identifying camelid pastoralism in selected valleys of the Pacific coast. Few studies have focused on highland societies and understanding pastoralist communities in particular, but the underlying assumption has been that camelid herders had essentially narrow and specialised diets. To evaluate this assertion, we analyzed dietary carbon and nitrogen stable isotopes of 27 human and 23 faunal specimens from nine archaeological sites located in the Central Altiplano of Bolivia supported by 27 radiocarbon dates. Our results suggest important diversity characterised both human and animal isotopic ecology between 1300 BCE and 1200 CE. The collected data also demonstrates that maize was not regularly consumed, suggesting interregional food exchange between this region of the Altiplano and its neighboring lowland inter-Andean valleys likely postdated 1100 CE. Consistent with reliance on cultivated crops such as chenopods and tubers and wild fauna including rodents, birds and fish, early camelid herders in the Andean Central Altiplano relied on a generalised form of pastoralism.
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Early researchers of radiocarbon levels in Southern Hemisphere tree rings identified a variable North-South hemispheric offset, necessitating construction of a separate radiocarbon calibration curve for the South. We present here SHCal20, a revised calibration curve from 0-55,000 cal BP, based upon SHCal13 and fortified by the addition of 14 new tree-ring data sets in the 2140-0, 3520-3453, 3608-3590 and 13,140-11,375 cal BP time intervals. We detail the statistical approaches used for curve construction and present recommendations for the use of the Northern Hemisphere curve (IntCal20), the Southern Hemisphere curve (SHCal20) and suggest where application of an equal mixture of the curves might be more appropriate. Using our Bayesian spline with errors-in-variables methodology, and based upon a comparison of Southern Hemisphere tree-ring data compared with contemporaneous Northern Hemisphere data, we estimate the mean Southern Hemisphere offset to be 36 ± 27 14 C yrs older.
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The Late Formative period immediately precedes the emergence of Tiwanaku, one of the earliest South American states, yet it is one of the most poorly understood periods in the southern Lake Titicaca Basin (Bolivia). In this article, we refine the ceramic chronology of this period with large sets of dates from eight sites, focusing on temporal inflection points in decorated ceramic styles. These points, estimated here by Bayesian models, index specific moments of change: (1) cal AD 120 ( 60–170, 95% probability ): the first deposition of Kalasasaya red-rimmed and zonally incised styles; (2) cal AD 240 ( 190–340, 95% probability ): a tentative estimate of the final deposition of Kalasasaya zonally incised vessels; (3) cal AD 420 ( 380–470, 95% probability ): the final deposition of Kalasasaya red-rimmed vessels; and (4) cal AD 590 ( 500–660, 95% probability ): the first deposition of Tiwanaku Redwares. These four modeled boundaries anchor an updated Late Formative chronology, which includes the Initial Late Formative phase, a newly identified decorative hiatus between the Middle and Late Formative periods. The models place Qeya and transitional vessels between inflection points 3 and 4 based on regionally consistent stratigraphic sequences. This more precise chronology will enable researchers to explore the trajectories of other contemporary shifts during this crucial period in Lake Titicaca Basin's prehistory.
Tiwanaku was a regionally significant, state level polity in the south-central Andes from ca. 500–1000 CE. The development of complex society in the region was greatly facilitated through intensified agricultural systems that relied on monsoonal precipitation. At the end of the first millennium CE, the Tiwanaku political regime collapsed, and their raised field systems were mostly abandoned within 200 years or less. It has been suggested that a prolonged period of aridity contributed to the collapse, but questions have remained about its chronology and severity. In this study, we investigated the relationship between δ²Hwax and δ¹⁸Ocalcite values, aridity and societal change. A period of nondeposition or erosion occurred between 915 and 1025 CE indicating a low lake stand exposing the core site. This extended and pronounced drought ending 1025 CE was recorded in the isotopic proxies extracted from lake sediments that show this period of aridity persisted into the 13th century. The broad agreement between our record and other regional paleoenvironmental archives of Holocene climate variability is consistent with Northern Hemisphere oceanic and atmospheric circulation patterns as a mechanism for driving centennial scale climate change in the Andes and supports the correspondence between prolonged drought and the collapse of Tiwanaku.
Archaeologists today need a wide range of scientific approaches in order to delineate and interpret the ecology of their sites. Dena Dincauze has written an authoritative and essential guide to a variety of archaeological methods, ranging from techniques for measuring time with isotopes and magnetism to the sciences of climate reconstruction, geomorphology, sedimentology, soil science, paleobotany and faunal paleoecology. Professor Dincauze insists that borrowing concepts from other disciplines demands a critical understanding of their theoretical roots. Moreover, the methods that are chosen must be appropriate to particular sets of data. The applications of the methods needed for an holistic human-ecology approach in archaeology are illustrated by examples ranging from the Paleolithic, through classical civilizations, to recent urban archaeology.
In southern Peru near Lake Titicaca, at the Colla hillfort town of Ayawiri, archaeological data indicate that the construction of a large terrace complex and the production of agricultural staples were managed in a decentralized manner. The layout and engineering qualities of the terraces surrounding Ayawiri reveal that the construction, maintenance, and cultivation of these systems was managed through household labor rather than a central political authority. This agrarian landscape and labor regime provided households with what I term ecological resistance—human modifications to ecosystems that provide individuals with the capacity to resist the establishment of hierarchical authority and subjugation by imperial powers. The built agricultural landscape and accompanying agrarian labor regimes made the Colla difficult to subjugate by neighboring enemies and in the 15th century, when Inka forces attempted to conquer and incorporate the Colla into their empire. The Colla were only successfully integrated into the Inka Empire after the Inka employed their own ecological tactics. This case study provides key insights into the ways that humans modify their environment to build and perpetuate ecological resistance.