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Dating the Late Archaic occupation of the Norte Chico region in Peru


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The Norte Chico region on the coast of Peru north of Lima consists of four adjacent river valleys--Huaura, Supe, Pativilca and Fortaleza--in which archaeologists have been aware of a number of apparently early sites for more than 40 years (refs 1- 3). To clarify the early chronology in this region, we undertook fieldwork in 2002 and 2003 to determine the dates of occupation of sites in the Fortaleza and Pativilca valleys. Here we present 95 new radiocarbon dates from a sample of 13 of more than 20 large, early sites. These sites share certain basic characteristics, including large-scale monumental architecture, extensive residential architecture and a lack of ceramics. The 95 new dates confirm the emergence and development of a major cultural complex in this region during the Late Archaic period between 3000 and 1800 calibrated calendar years bc. The results help to redefine a broader understanding of the respective roles of agricultural and fishing economies in the beginnings of civilization in South America.
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Dating the Late Archaic occupation of
the Norte Chico Region in Peru
Jonathan Haas
*, Winifred Creamer
* & Alvaro Ruiz
Department of Anthropology, The Field Museum, Chicago, Illinois 60605, USA
Department of Anthropology, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Illinois
60115, USA
* These authors contributed equally to this work
The Norte Chico region on the coast of Peru north of Lima
consists of four adjacent river valleys
Huaura, Supe, Pativilca and
in which archaeologists have been aware of a number
of apparently early sites for more than 40 years (refs 1–3). To
clarify the early chronology in this region, we undertook field-
work in 2002 and 2003 to determine the dates of occupation of
sites in the Fortaleza and Pativilca valleys. Here we present 95
new radiocarbon dates from a sample of 13 of more than 20 large,
early sites. These sites share certain basic characteristics, includ-
ing large-scale monumental architecture, extensive residential
architecture and a lack of ceramics. The 95 new dates confirm the
emergence and development of a major cultural complex in this
region during the Late Archaic period between 3000 and 1800
calibrated calendar years
BC. The results help to redefine a
broader understanding of the respective roles of agricultural
and fishing economies in the beginnings of civilization in South
The Norte Chico region has greatly influenced the development
of theories on the rise of complex societies in South America.
Fieldwork done in the 1970s and 1980s
at the site of Aspero at the
mouth of the Supe Valley showed that this fishing community was
occupied during the Late Archaic period
. With its several platform
mound structures, Aspero inspired the theor y that the initial
emergence of complex society in the Andes was based on the
exploitation of maritime resources rather than agriculture, a theory
often referred to as the ‘maritime foundations of Andean civiliza-
. In the 1980s the first dates for a number of large inland sites
in the Supe Valley suggested that these sites were occupied during
the Late Archaic period
. Extensive excavations in the 1990s at
the Supe Valley site of Caral
firmly established the presence of a
major inland, agriculturally based, component to the Late Archaic
occupation in the Norte Chico
Our recent work in the neighbouring Pativilca and Fortaleza has
revealed that Caral and Aspero were but two of a much larger
number of major Late Archaic sites in the Norte Chico. There is now
evidence of an extraordinary complex of more than 20 separate
major residential centres with monumental architecture concen-
trated in just three small valleys (Fig. 1).
To complement the earlier work in the Supe Valley and assess the
overall extent of the Late Archaic occupation in the Norte Chico, we
began fieldwork in the Pativilca and Fortaleza valleys in 2002 and
2003. Our limited reconnaissance in these two valleys identified at
least 16 sites with surface characteristics of Late Archaic occu-
pations: a lack of ceramics, monumental stone architecture and
large circular ceremonial structures
. These sites vary in size from
ten to more than 100 hectares in area. Each has between one and
seven platform mounds. The mounds, rectangular terraced pyra-
mids, range in size from 3,000 to over 100,000 m
(Fig. 2). Rooms
were constructed on the tops and upper terraces of the structures.
Another hallmark of Late Archaic sites is the sunken circular plaza.
These plazas range from 20 to 40 m in diameter and are 1–2 m
. The sites also had large expanses of associated residential
architecture, as manifested in surface indications and in stratified
house floors in test pits. Excavations revealed stratified household
refuse 50 to 200 cm deep. Importantly, the sites are consistently
located immediately adjacent to short irrigation canals watering
large tracts of land in the first terrace immediately above the river
Test excavations were conducted at a sample of 13 of the sites in
the Pativilca (seven sites) and Fortaleza valleys (six sites). These
excavations were designed to yield suitable material for radiocarbon
dating from successive events of mound construction and from
stratified levels of resid ential refuse. The 95 r adiocarbon dates
(Table 1) obtained from excavations confirmed that 11 of the 13
tested sites were occupied during the Late Archaic period (Fig. 2).
When the 95 new dates are added to the existing published dates
from previous projects, there is a combined total of 127 radiocarbon
dates available for the Norte Chico region, extending from 9210 to
186 calibrated calendar years
BC (cal. BC). Both the earlier and later
ends of this range are under-represented in this sample owing to a
research focus on sites most likely to fall into the period from 3000
to 1800 cal.
Ten samples date before 3500 cal.
BC. One early date of 9210 cal.
BC provides limited indication of an Early Archaic occupation. The
remaining nine dates confirm occupation in the region both on the
coast and at inland locations between 6300 and 3500 cal.
BC during
the Middle Archaic period. Two of the early dates, 3710 cal.
BC at
and 3710 cal. BC at Porvenir are directly associated with
communal architecture. The single date from Aspero is considered
an anomaly
and the date from Porvenir, although deduced from
construction material, is 700 years earlier than the next closest date.
Thus it should not be inferred on the basis of these two isolated dates
that mound construction had started in the fourth millennium
The succeeding 700 years, between 3200 and 2500 cal.
BC, with 27
dates, marks the clear appearance of large-scale communal con-
Figure 1 Map of major Late Archaic sites in the Norte Chico region.
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NATURE | doi:10.1038/nature03146 | 1
struction and population aggregation in the Norte Chico region.
Dated samples from this period have been found in direct associ-
ation with the construction or occupation of platform mounds at
, Caral
and Lurihuasi
in the Supe Valley, at Upaca in the
Pativilca Valley and at Huaricanga, Porvenir and Caballete in the
Fortaleza Valley. The dates at Aspero fit well within the range of
dates for the inland sites and indicate that the first construction of
communal architecture occurs at both inland and coastal sites at the
very beginning of the third millennium
BC. On the basis of this new
evidence, it is not feasible to view the maritime development at
Aspero as having preceded the large-scale inland occupations. Given
the significant and ongoing destruction of these early sites, includ-
ing the use of Aspero as a modern landfill, it is unlikely that which
site was ‘first’ can ever be known. What is clear from the new body of
dates is that the early development of complex societies along the
Peruvian coast in the Late Archaic involved an extensive inland
occupation based on irrigation agriculture coupled with a more
localized and much smaller-scale maritime occupation on the coast
The period from 2500 to 2000 cal.
BC, represented by 61 dates,
marks a considerable expansion of the Late Archaic occupation in
the Norte Chico region. This was when most of the platfor m
mounds were constructed, as shown by dates in this range from
thirteen sites. The proliferation of sites during this period is
lopsided, however, in that all the development was inland. The
available dates from Aspero come only from the beginning of this
. The large number and size of inland sites in the Norte
Chico, all continuing to be dependent on fish and shellfish, is hard
to reconcile with the scarcity of maritime sites in the same area. It
therefore seems likely that residents maintained exchange relation-
ships with maritime communities outside the Norte Chico region.
At the end of the Late Archaic and into the Initial Period, with 18
dates from 2000 to ,1500 cal.
BC, some sites continued to be
occupied and new sites were founded. Large multi-mound sites,
typical of the preceding millennium, were abandoned and two
new site types appear: single platform complexes with attached
sunken plazas, and U-shaped mound complexes. The nature and
chronology of the later occupations in the Norte Chico remain to be
The new dates for the Norte Chico Late Archaic provide insig hts
into the intensity and longevity of this early development. It is now
clear that Aspero, Caral and the sites in the Supe Valley were parts of
a much more extensive cultural system that reached across at least
three valleys and an area of 1,800 km
. The concentration of
monumental sites in the region is unique on the Andean landscape
during the third millennium
BC. The clustering of dates at the start
of the third millennium
BC also suggests that the Norte Chico was an
important historical location, where the path of cultural evolution
in the Andean region diverged from a relatively simple hunting and
Figure 2 Late Archaic communal architecture. a, Aerial photograph of Punta y Suela in
the Patavilca Valley taken in 1969 (mound A in lower left is 60 m £ 50 m £ 12 m).
b, Mounds A (left, 85 m £ 74 m £ 23 m) and B (right) at Vinto Alto in Pativilca Valley.
c, Overview of central ceremonial zone at Porvenir in Fortaleza valley (open plaza area
between mounds is 500 m across). d, Circle of stone stela or huancas at site of Caballete
in Fortaleza Valley.
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gathering society to a much more complex pattern of social and
political organization with a mixed economy based on agriculture
and marine exploitation. Domesticated plants recovered include
cotton (Gossypium barbadense), squash (Cucurbita sp.), chilli
(Capsicum sp.), beans (Phaseolus vulgaris and P. lunatus), lucuma
(Pouteria lucuma,formerlyLucuma obovata), guava (Psidium
guajava), pacay (Inga feuillei), camote (Ipomoea batatas), avocado
(Persea americana), and achira (Canna edulis). While the nature of
Late Archaic society is still being defined, there are indications of
social hierarchies, centralized decision-making, formalized religion,
and a multifaceted economy based on inland irrigation of cotton
and food plants, diverse marine resources, and a system of regular
exchange of food crops, cotton, fish and shellfish
The new dates establish that the people in this region were a
significant force on the Andean cultural landscape for more than
1,200 years. By 1800 cal.
BC the Norte Chico was losing its status as a
focal point on the Andean landscape. Much larger polities
were arising to the north and south along the coast as well as
in the highlands to the east. However, basic architectural and
organizational patterns first appearing in the third millennium in
the Norte Chico prov ided a foundation for many underly ing
similarities that define the distinctiveness of the Andean region in
the succeeding 4,000 years. A
Survey areas and site sampling
The Pativilca Valley extends 35 km from the coast until it narrows markedly to enter the
foothills of the Andes. Today, there are approximately 140 km
of land under irrigation. At
the mouth of the valley it is hard to distinguish the arable land of Pativilca from that of
Supe and Fortaleza, because the three share a common coastal plain. The Pativilca Valley
has never been systematically surveyed, and there have been only limited, unpublished
excavations at a small number of sites. The Fortaleza Valley extends 46 km from its mouth
at the Pacific shoreline to the town of Chasquitambo where it narrows to enter the foothills
of the Andes. Approximately 115 km
of land are under irrigated fields today.
In 1996 an archaeological survey of the middle portion of the Fortaleza Valley floor,
between 20 and 1,600 m above sea level, was conducted in conjunction with construction
of a power line
. None of the sites recorded on this survey were immediately recognized as
belonging to the Late Archaic period. Reconnaissance in 2000, 2001 and 2002 revealed
nine sites in the Pativilca Valley and eight sites in the Fortaleza Valley with all the hallmarks
of the Late Archaic: monumental architecture, circular plazas, residential architecture and
incidental surface ceramics. To obtain dates from the sites that appeared to belong to the
Late Archaic and to assess their overall chronological placement, test excavations were
conducted at seven of the nine in Pativilca and six of the eight sites in Fortaleza.
Two strategies were used to obtain radiocarbon samples at the sites: excavation of
1m£ 2 m test units placed in areas of stratified refuse; clearing exposed profiles left by
previous construction projects and looting activities. The latter allowed for the extraction
of radiocarbon samples in the interior and earlier construction phases of platform mounds
and other architectural features. In all these cases, modern surfaces were completely
removed to expose undisturbed, in situ deposits to ensure that the samples were not
Radiocarbon dates and calibration
Dates in this paper are given in calibrated calendar dates derived from the Calib 4.4
calibration program
. Previously published dates have been recalibrated using Calib 4.4
for consistency. Each single ‘cal.
BC date is derived from the mean probability rounded to
the nearest decade. All dates from excavations in the Fortaleza and Pativilca valleys are
provided in the Supplementary Information, with laboratory numbers, radiocarbon years
before present (that is, before 1950; yr
BP), provenance and calibration ranges.
Received 17 March; accepted 26 October 2004; doi:10.1038/nature03146.
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Acknowledgements Research for this project was supported by the National Science Foundation,
the California Community Trust, The Field Museum, and the Center for Latino and Latin
American Studies, Northern Illinois University. We thank the Instituto Nacional de Cultura of
Lima, Peru and the municipalities of Pativilca, Paramonga and Barranca.
Competing interests statement The authors declare that they have no competing financial
Correspondence and requests for materials should be addressed to J.H. (
Table 1 Radiocarbon dates from the excavations in the Pativilca and Fortaleza valleys
Site Radiocarbon yr
BP Cal. BC Site Radiocarbon yr BP Cal. BC Site Radiocarbon yr BP Cal. BC Site Radiocarbon yr BP Cal. BC
CAB 3,920 ^ 70 2400 CB2 3,390 ^ 70 1680 POR 3,780 ^ 60 2210 SHA 3,660 ^ 60 2030
CAB 3,590 ^ 70 1940 CB2 3,630 ^ 80 2000 POR 4,930 ^ 70 3720 UPC 3,880 ^ 60 2380
CAB 3,680 ^ 70 2060 CB2 3,720 ^ 90 2120 POR 3,040 ^ 80 1280 UPC 4,080 ^ 70 2650
CAB 3,720 ^ 70 2120 CPA 3,789 ^ 48 2220 POR 3,850 ^ 40 2320 UPC 4,180 ^ 110 2740
CAB 3,890 ^ 80 2360 HCG 2,580 ^ 80 670 PSJ 3,540 ^ 70 1870 UPC 3,850 ^ 70 2310
CAB 4,450 ^ 290 3120 HCG 3,870 ^ 40 2350 PSJ 3,600 ^ 40 1950 UPC 3,770 ^ 70 2190
CAB 3,810 ^ 70 2260 HCG 3,940 ^ 40 2430 PSJ 3,600 ^ 60 1950 UPC 3,820 ^ 70 2270
CAB 3,630 ^ 70 2000 HCG 3,970 ^ 110 2480 PSJ 3,710 ^ 70 2100 UPC 3,820 ^ 70 2270
CAB 3,670 ^ 50 2050 HCG 4,110 ^ 70 2690 PSJ 3,710 ^ 70 2100 UPC 3,860 ^ 70 2330
CAB 3,980 ^ 70 2490 HCG 4,780 ^ 50 3570 PSJ 3,790 ^ 60 2230 UPC 2,700 ^ 60 870
CAB 4,050 ^ 80 2600 HCG 3,770 ^ 70 2190 POT 3,215 ^ 35 1480 UPC 2,910 ^ 70 1110
CAB 3,740 ^ 50 2140 HCG 3,860 ^ 40 2330 PYS 3,775 ^ 35 2200 UPC 2,910 ^ 80 1110
CAB 3,330 ^ 90 1620 HCG 3,910 ^ 40 2390 PYS 3,935 ^ 35 2420 UPC 2,160 ^ 70 210
CAB 3,920 ^ 70 2400 HCG 3,940 ^ 70 2420 PYS 3,210 ^ 70 1480 UPC 2,950 ^ 70 1160
CAB 4,000 ^ 70 2520 HCG 4,030 ^ 70 2560 PYS 2,430 ^ 70 560 VTA 3,970 ^ 70 2480
CAB 4,440 ^ 40 3100 HCG 4,230 ^ 90 2790 PYS 2,550 ^ 70 660 VTA 3,970 ^ 70 2480
CAR 3,760 ^ 70 2180 HCG 3,950 ^ 70 2440 PYS 9,750 ^ 110 9170 VTA 4,010 ^ 70 2540
CB1 2,950 ^ 70 1160 HYT 3,800 ^ 70 2240 PYS 2,600 ^ 70 750 VTA 3,700 ^ 110 2100
CB1 2,960 ^ 70 1180 HYT 3,820 ^ 70 2270 PYS 3,520 ^ 70 1840 VTA 3,860 ^ 60 2330
CB1 3,080 ^ 70 1330 POR 3,630 ^ 70 2000 PYS 6,440 ^ 70 5410 VTA 4,040 ^ 70 2580
CB1 3,110 ^ 70 1370 POR 3,890 ^ 40 2370 PYS 6,450 ^ 90 5410 VTA 3,930 ^ 70 2410
CB1 3,370 ^ 80 1640 POR 4,110 ^ 70 2690 PYS 7,410 ^ 70 6280 VTA 3,930 ^ 60 2400
CB1 3,090 ^ 70 1340 POR 4,160 ^ 70 2740 SHA 3,540 ^ 60 1870 VTA 3,940 ^ 70 2420
CB1 3,420 ^ 70 1720 POR 3,710 ^ 70 2100 SHA 3,080 ^ 70 1330
CAB, Caballete; CAR, Carreterı
CB1, Cerro Blanco 1; CB2, Cerro Blanco 2; CPA, Cemetery CP; HCG, Huaricanga; HYT, Huayto; POR, Porvenir; PSJ, Pampa San Jose; POT, Potao; PYS, Punta y Suela;
SHA, Shaura; UPC, Upaca; VTA, Vinto Alto. See Methods for dating procedures.
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Author Queries
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please cut it as needed.
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... These trends are exemplified in the Norte Chico region and especially in the Supe Valley where 25 settlements from the Late Preceramic and Initial Periods are found from the coast to over 1,000 meters above sea level (masl) (Haas et al. 2004, Shady Solís et al. 2001; Shady Solís 2014). ...
... Haas and Winifred Creamer conducted survey, testing, and excavations at 16 sites in the Pativilca and Fortaleza valleys (Creamer et al. 2007(Creamer et al. , 2011Haas et al. 2004;Haas and Creamer 2006). This work produced over 90 radiocarbon dates, although it was criticized for poor contextualization of the samples (see responses in Haas and Creamer 2006). ...
... At Caral the new occupants built pyramids and rectangular plazas in a small area of the northeast part of the site (Shady Solís et al. 2015). Dates from the Fortaleza and Pativilca valleys show continued or recurrent use at four sites in the Middle Formative (Haas et al. 2004). ...
Within coastal Andean archaeology there is a growing emphasis on the roles of hydrology and hydrological knowledge in Andean strategies for water management, settlement, and land use. Hydrological methods can not only help reconstruct past water environments but also illuminate the influence of changing climates and conditions in the Andean highlands on coastal water flows. Through a case study of the Supe River basin in north-central coastal Peru, focusing on the period from 5000 to 3000 calibrated radiocarbon years before present (cal. BP), I review several hydrological methods useful for archaeological study. I then combine these to develop a paleohydrological model that provides a basis for comparing the hydrological effects of changing climates, environmental factors, and settlement and land use patterns. Recognizing the importance of Andean highland climates on coastal river flows, I begin by developing a paleoclimate synthesis for the Norte Chico region (i.e., the Fortaleza, Pativilca, Supe, and Huaura basins) from 6000 to 2000 cal. BP. There has been considerable paleoclimate research in both the highlands and the coast but only limited efforts to develop these records into a coherent narrative of basin-wide climate patterns. Through a review of 21 studies spanning the tropical Andes, the central Andean highlands, the Altiplano, and the Peruvian coast, I identify three millennial-scale periods defined by distinct climatic transitions affecting the highlands and/or the coast: 6000-4000 cal. BP, 4000-3200 cal. BP, and 3200-2000 cal. BP. I then apply paleohydrological methods, which are largely grounded in geospatial analysis in a geographic information system. The first method is drainage network modeling from a digital elevation model, which defines stream networks and catchments for a study area. The second method is delineation of hydrological response units (HRUs), which are areas that have similar hydrological dynamics. The HRU model uses climate-based parameters derived from the paleoclimate synthesis to create a spatial layer of climate regions and combines these with geological and soils layers to define discrete units of shared characteristics. Although both methods provide useful context on their own, I combine them through a qualitative assessment of hydrological dynamics within and between each of the HRUs, tracing their effects on surface and ground water flows from the highest elevations through inland valleys to the coast. This is the core of the paleohydrological model. The hydrological conditions suggested by the model provide a basis for considering how Supe Valley settlement patterns relate to intra-basin and temporal variations in water availability, access to water and irrigable land, and flood risk. The study period is characterized by intensified settlement and agriculture in the inland valleys of the Norte Chico region between 5000 and 4000 cal. BP followed by marked shifts in the fortunes of certain settlements with a long-term decline in activity. The analysis calls into question previous hypotheses regarding social organization in the Supe Valley, irrigation practices, and the contribution of environmental processes to the region’s decline and suggests directions for future research to clarify these developments.
... Since 1975, however, the inventory of confirmed Late Preceramic mounds has increased both latitudinally (north as far as Lambayeque at 6°48' S) and in number. The greatest surprisealbeit suspected by Lanning and others-was the Late Preceramic age of Caral in the Supe Valley (10°53' S; Shady et al. 2001) and the subsequent confirmation that dozens of mound sites in the Norte Chico (Huacho, Huara, Supe, Fortaleza, and Pativilca Valleys, 11 ° 12' S to 10°38' S) are also Late Preceramic (see Haas, Creamer, and Ruiz 2004;Shady et al. 2015). Although smallscale monumental structures appear first in the Middle Preceramic period (e.g., Huaca Prieta in the Chicama Valley, 7"55' S; Dillehay et al. 2012), the earliest large mound is Los Morteros (8°40' S) in the Salinas de Chao, which began before 5400 cal BP (Mauricio Llonto 2015). ...
... The most prominent case is the Norte Chico, centered about two hundred kilometers north of Lima. The last two decades of research by Shady et al. (2001Shady et al. ( , 2015 and Haas et al. (2004) show that this region had the highest concentration of monumental structures during the Late Preceramic period, anchored at the huge, World Heritage site of Caral. Between about 3800 and 3600 cal BP, these sites were all abandoned. ...
... venidos, los cuales fueron: Caballete, Huaricanga, El Porvenir, Cerro Blanco 1, Cerro Blanco 2 y Shaura. Se hicieron diversas publicaciones en torno al surgimiento de la civilización andina, así como una serie de investigaciones entre las que destacan tesis y trabajos de los sitios de Caballete y Huarincanga (Bazán, 2012;Haas et al., 2004Haas et al., , 2013Winker, 2011;Wulffen, 2009). En el año 2015 se ejecutó un rescate arqueológico parcial en el Cerro de la Horca por parte de la consultora Qetzal S.A.C. para la concesionaria de la Red Vial 4 -Autopista del Norte S.A.C., cuyos resultados fueron publicados en el año 2019 en cuatro tomos, siendo uno de los estudios más importantes en el valle de Fortaleza en el ámbito arqueológico. ...
Full-text available
El artículo desarrolla un estudio comparativo que expone la relación que tienen las intervenciones arqueológicas en los distritos de Supe Puerto y Paramonga, pertenecientes a la provincia de Barranca, departamento de Lima, con la conformación identitaria en sus respectivos grupos estudiantiles del nivel secundario. Para entender esta relación se han realizado entrevistas semi estructuradas a los estudiantes, una revisión de las intervenciones arqueológicas en general y una visita a los sitios arqueológicos más representativos de cada distrito. Los resultados muestran una relativa diferencia en la conformación identitaria de ambos grupos estudiantiles, lo cual se entiende por la condición actual de los sitios arqueológicos y el entramado social específico que construye la práctica arqueológica con los mismos.
... The history of domestication of pacay is not well documented, but archeological studies have evidenced that its early consumption (∼8,000 years ago) in the Peruvian northern coast (Piperno and Dillehay, 2008). Furthermore, it has been documented that this tree crop was being cultivated in the coast of Peru by ∼4,500 cal yr BP and its pods have been portrayed on ceramics (National Research Council, 1989;Shady Solis et al., 2001;Haas et al., 2004). Remains of Inga feuillei have been also recovered from Formative sites in the northern coast of Chile (Muñoz Ovalle, 2004). ...
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South America is a megadiverse continent that witnessed the domestication, translocation and cultivation of various plant species from seemingly contrasting ecosystems. It was the recipient and supplier of crops brought to and from Mesoamerica (such as maize and cacao, respectively), and Polynesia to where the key staple crop sweet potato was exported. Not every instance of the trans-ecological expansion of cultivated plants (both domesticated and wild), however, resulted in successful farming. Here, we review the transregional circulation and introduction of five food tropical crops originated in the tropical and humid valleys of the eastern Andes—achira, cassava, ahipa, sweet potato, and pacay—to the hyper-arid coastal valleys of the Atacama Desert of northern Chile, where they have been found in early archeological sites. By means of an evaluation of the contexts of their deposition and supported by direct radiocarbon dating, stable isotopes analyses, and starch grain analysis, we evaluate different hypotheses for explaining their introduction and adaptation to the hyper-arid soils of northern Chile, by societal groups that after the introduction of cultigens still retained a strong dependence on marine hunting, gathering and fishing ways of life based on wide variety of marine coast resources. Many of the studied plants were part of a broader package of introduced goods and technological devices and procedures, linked to food, therapeutic medicine, social and ritual purposes that transformed previous hunter-gatherer social, economic, and ideological institutions. Based on archeological data, we discuss some of the possible socio-ecological processes involved in the development of agricultural landscapes including the adoption of tropical crops originated several hundred kilometers away from the Atacama Desert during the Late Holocene.
... In contrast to Aspero, Los Morteros and other Late Preceramic monumental sites known before 2001, Caral is located about 25 km inland, up the same valley as Aspero. Work by Shady elsewhere in the Supe Valley, and more recently byHaas et al. (2004) in neighbouring valleys, has uncovered additional inland Late Preceramic centres with mounds. ...
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Much of the early prehistory of the Americas lies underwater along its coastlines and in the submerged caves and cenotes of Florida and Central America. A cenote (from Yucatan Maya dzoonot ‘well’) is a deep natural pit, or sinkhole, resulting from the collapse of a doline or limestone bedrock that exposes groundwater underneath. Cenotes are a unique resource in a dry land, especially associated with the Yucatan Peninsula and some nearby Caribbean islands, and were sometimes used by the ancient Maya for sacrificial offerings. In times of lowered sea level and drier climate, as prevailed in the terminal Pleistocene, they were rare sources of freshwater for people and animals. Cenotes and the extensive cave systems to which they are linked have become the focus of palaeontological and palaeoanthropological studies by North American and Mexican Prehistorians, with the Vice-Directorate for Underwater Archaeology, National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) commanding several of these efforts. The search for early humans in the Yucatan Peninsula started more than a century ago when Henry Mercer arrived in search of early Americans; however, only in the last fifteen years have systematic efforts been undertaken. Efforts by archaeologists and cave-diving explorers have already resulted in the discovery of numerous assemblages of Pleistocene megafauna and pre-Maya humans. Finds near Tulum, Quintana Roo state, include some of the most complete early Americans skeletons, as well as a largely varied faunal complex including numerous examples of extinct megafauna. Some of the human skeletons are thought to be among the oldest in the hemisphere and they are so well preserved that now they are providing enough organic material for ancient DNA analysis and stable isotope studies. Associated concentrations of bat guano, wood, wood charcoal and calcite formations hold promise for advances in palaeoecology and sea-level history. Despite their great scientific value, these deposits are increasingly at risk from water pollution, salinization, tourism and urban development. As such dangers threaten inundated caves and cenotes all over the world, a major concern for UNESCO and other international and national agencies has been to set minimal standards for protecting this important heritage, which includes detailed recording at the sites and maintaining the materials in situ whenever possible.
... In contrast to Aspero, Los Morteros and other Late Preceramic monumental sites known before 2001, Caral is located about 25 km inland, up the same valley as Aspero. Work by Shady elsewhere in the Supe Valley, and more recently byHaas et al. (2004) in neighbouring valleys, has uncovered additional inland Late Preceramic centres with mounds. ...
... A few Central Andean projects were ahead of their time in exploring the potential of 14 C dating and Bayesian modeling Zeidler et al. 1998), and more recently an increasing number of projects have focused on the development of high-precision robust site chronologies, often through Bayesian modeling methods (e.g., Korpisaari et al. 2014;Marsh 2012;Marsh et al. 2019;Michczyński et al. , 2007Millaire 2020;Rademaker and Hodgins 2018;Sharratt 2019;Takigami et al. 2014;Vega-Centeno Sara-Lafosse 2008;Yaeger and Vranich 2013). These contrast sharply with the still-common use of 14 C dates largely in isolation from their contexts, as indicators of antiquity rather than building blocks in detailed chronologies (e.g., Dillehay et al. 2007;Haas et al. 2004;Pozorski and Pozorski 2005;Shady Solis et al. 2001). While use of 14 C dates to establish approximate calendar ages is necessary to the construction of basic chronological frameworks, explanatory analyses are likely to require the higherprecision site and regional chronologies produced by Bayesian modeling approaches. ...
Some of the earliest archaeological materials radiocarbon-dated were from the Central Andes, and archaeologists from the region were also involved in early efforts at meta-analysis of assemblages of radiocarbon dates and Bayesian chronological modeling. Nevertheless, regional chronological schema still vary surprisingly little from their pre-radiocarbon antecedents. As a result, significant scope for increasing the impact of radiocarbon dates, as well as making their use more robust and transparent, remains. Improved use of radiocarbon dates has the potential to reconfigure Central Andean chronologies, suiting them better to addressing many of the questions that archaeologists wish to ask. With this in mind, I here review the history of use of ¹⁴C dating in the archaeology of the Central Andes, before focusing on practical issues that confront archaeologists working in the region as they both employ ¹⁴C dates and seek to be informed and critical consumers of published ¹⁴C dates and chronologies.
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This dissertation focuses on the Cosma Complex, a multi-component archaeological site located at the headwaters of the Nepeña River, on the western slopes of the Cordillera Negra in the modern Department of Ancash, Peru. The overarching goal of this study is to understand not only Cosma’s influence as a religious center within the Nepeña Valley and the surrounding region, but its recurring occupation over a 5000-year time span and its role in religious networks within the valley through its function as a cultural landscape resource or persistent place. The Cosma complex extends over 250 hectares and includes two multi-storied temple mounds, a megalithic hilltop fortress, domestic areas, agricultural terraces, above ground tombs, and carved stonework. The center is geographically located in a propitious locale, 2650 meters above sea level (masl) in a flat mountain basin at the start of the Cosma branch of the Nepeña River. Cosma’s construction in a geographically isolated basin at the headwaters of the valley may have added weight to its status as a ceremonial center, allowing it to function as a pilgrimage center. Through field survey and archaeological excavations as well as the analysis of material remains, this dissertation; (1) reconstructs the site’s occupational sequence, (2) explores its spatial organization and architectural forms through time, and (3) documents associated material remains in order to reconstruct cultural and religious affiliations. These lines of evidence are used to discuss Late Preceramic religious developments, in particular a significant Kotosh-Mito presence. Located in a transitional zone, between the highlands and the coast, the Cosma complex has been interpreted as an important center for studying Late Preceramic architectural styles. Utilizing Cosma as a case-study, this dissertation re-evaluates the criteria previously established for Mito and “pre-Mito” structures, paying attention to localized variations of the tradition, as opposed to chronological markers. Following the Late Preceramic use at the Cosma complex, the mounds again functioned as a stage for ceremonial practice during the Early Horizon Period and Middle Horizon for burial purposes. This dissertation presents this data under the auspice of persistent place and ritual gathering within the basin.
Discovering World Prehistory introduces the general field of archaeology and highlights for students the difference between obtaining data (basic archaeology) and interpreting those data into a prehistory, a coherent model of the past.
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A newly developed hybrid-coordinate ocean circulation model is documented and tested. Coordinate surfaces in this model adhere to isopycnals wherever this does not violate minimum layer thickness requirements; elsewhere, coordinate surfaces are geometrically constrained. The intent of this approach, some of whose features are reminiscent of the Arbitrary Lagrangian–Eulerian (ALE) technique, is to combine the best features of isopycnic-coordinate and fixed-grid circulation models within a single framework. The hybrid model is an offshoot of the Miami Isopycnic Coordinate Ocean Model whose solutions, obtained under identical geographic and forcing conditions, serve as reference. Century-scale simulations on a coarse-mesh near-global domain show considerable similarities in the modeled thermohaline-forced circulation. Certain architectural details, such as the choice of prognostic thermodynamic variables (ρ,S versus T,S) and the algorithm for moving coordinate surfaces toward their reference isopycnals, are found to only have a minor impact on the solution. Emphasis in this article is on the numerical resiliency of the hybrid coordinate approach. Exploitation of the model's flexible coordinate layout in areas of ocean physics where pure isopycnic coordinate models only have limited options, such as mixed-layer turbulence parameterization, will be the subject of forthcoming articles.
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A 5.8-year time series of moored current meter observations is used with hydrographic section data, CME model results, and gridded wind fields over the North Atlantic to describe the mean structure and variability of circulation and volume transports east of Abaco, Bahamas, at 26.5° N. A mean Antilles Current, with 5 Sv of northward transport, is confined against the Bahamas boundary in the upper 800 m and combines with approximately 19 Sv of Florida Current transport to balance the Sverdrup interior circulation, and does not contribute to interhemispheric exchange. The mean transport of the deep western boundary current (DWBC) off the Bahamas is approximately 40 Sv, of which 13 Sv compensates the upper branch of the thermohaline circulation, requiring a 27 Sv deep recirculation. Robust annual and semiannual cycles of meridional transport are found in both moored observations and model results with remarkable agreement in amplitude (±13 Sv) and phase. Maximum northward transports occur in winter and summer, and minimums occur in fall and spring due to a predominantly barotropic response to remote and local seasonal wind forcing. Transport variability on timescales less than semiannual is dominated by mesoscale eddies that propagate westward into the Bahamas boundary in the thermocline at periods of 70-100 days, wave speeds of about 4 cm s-1, and wavelengths of about 335 km. These events are frequently correlated with offshore shifts of the DWBC core.
The large preceramic site of Aspero, on the central Peruvian coast, was explored in the past by Uhle and by Willey and Corbett; however, these investigators did not recognize the presence of sizable artificial platform mounds or "corporate labor structures" at the site. In spite of its preceramic status, Aspero was a sedentary community, and the corporate labor structures suggest the beginnings of a complex, non-egalitarian society. The hypothesis is advanced that such a society was "pre-adapted" toward corporate labor activity and that this "pre-adaptation" expedited the rapid transference from a marine economy to an agricultural one at the close of the Cotton Preceramic period (about 2000-1800 B.C.).
A total of 21 about year-long current meter records in the depth range of the upper and middle North Atlantic Deep Water (NADW) were analyzed to determine the mean and the fluctuations of the upper Deep Western Boundary Current (DWBC) in the equatorial Atlantic. The investigation was based on moored arrays at 44°W from three different deployment periods, 1989/1990, 1990/1991 and 1992/1994, and was supplemented by current profiling along 44°W and 35°W. The approximately 100-km-wide DWBC at 44°W, just north of the equator, was attached to the topography with the current maximum exceeding 70 cm s−1. Currents within the DWBC core followed the topography, and the close agreement between the mean current direction and the direction of maximum variance indicated that the major contribution to the DWBC variability near the equator was due to pulsing rather than meandering. For mean transports of upper and middle NADW, the current meter records were averaged over their deployment duration yielding a best estimate of 13 Sv in the depth range 1000 to 3100 m. The mean transport appeared robust, as subsets of the data from two different years yielded about the same mean transport, namely, 12.4 and 13.6 Sv. The DWBC transport time series showed a definite seasonal cycle, ranging from less than 7 Sv during September/October to about 25 Sv during January/February. Annual and semiannual transport harmonics had similar amplitudes, at about 6 Sv each, and together they explained about two thirds of the total transport variability. After crossing the equator, the DWBC splits into two cores with the major flow along a chain of seamounts near 3.5°S, near 35°W. Magnitudes and phases of the transport variability at 35°W, south of approximately 1.5°S, were similar to that at 44°W. Further, for the flow of lower NADW which was detached from the upper DWBC core, similar periodicity and phases were observed in the deep records at 44°W.
We report results from a 1-year (September 1987 to September 1988) moored current meter array spanning the continental margin off French Guiana near 8° N in the western tropical Atlantic. Current profiles were recorded at three sites: at the shelf break, over the mid-continental slope, and at the base of the continental rise. Upper level mean currents showed a northwestward flowing North Brazil Current (NBC) and offshore retroflection of this flow into the North Equatorial Countercurrent from late summer through about January. Generally weak upper level mean flows were observed during the spring (February-June). Persistent northwestward mean flow was observed at 900 m depth over the continental slope, indicating northward transport of Antarctic Intermediate Waters in a subsurface boundary flow at speeds of 10-15 cm s-1. Deep currents over the continental rise showed a strong southeastward Deep Western Boundary Current (DWBC) extending from 2500 m to the bottom, with mean core speeds of nearly 30 cm s-1 at 4300 m depth. Transport estimates based on these data and a few geostrophic sections suggest a DWBC transport of 20-40 × 106 m3 s-1 at this location. Low-frequency current fluctuations were dominated by a well-defined 40- to 60-day oscillation with peak-to-peak meridional velocity amplitudes of > 1 m s-1 during the fall. Analysis of historical coastal zone color scanner imagery suggests that these oscillations are related to quasi-periodic generation and subsequent westward movement of ≈ 400 km diameter eddies from the NBC retroflection. These results contrast sharply with earlier indications of a quasi-permanent "Demerara Eddy" in this region, and suggest that this commonly observed feature is in fact a transient phenomenon associated with the time-dependent behavior of the NBC retroflection.
The Age Calibration Program, CALIB, published in 1986 and amended in 1987 is here amended anew. The program is available on a floppy disk in this publication. The new calibration data set covers nearly 22 000 Cal yr (approx 18 400 14C yr) and represents a 6 yr timescale calibration effort by several laboratories. The data are described and the program outlined. -K.Clayton