Applied Archaeology in the Americas: Evaluating Archaeological Solutions to the Impacts of Global Environmental Change
Jago Cooper and Lindsay Duncan
This chapter considers the role of archaeology in creating solutions for coping with the impacts of global environmental change, illustrated by cases from Latin America. Past examples of the practical application of pre-Columbian innovations and techniques are considered, and the key themes of social practice and community engagement discussed. These principles are then applied to the islands of the Caribbean where archaeology can play an important role in accessing and illuminating pre-Columbian lifeways in the region. The comparative resilience of past and present lifeways to the hazards created by extreme weather events, precipitation variability, and sea level changes are discussed, and the role of archaeology as a means of engaging the public, stimulating discussion, and informing debate is considered.
Guillermo Luis Mengoni Goñalons
South American Camelids (SAC) occupied a central role in the development of Andean societies and were an essential element of the cultural landscape. During the Inca period camelids had a major significance to people, integrating their economy, social, political, and ritual life. Camelids were a key instrument for the expansion and establishment of the Inca Empire. Llamas were used as beasts of burden for transporting goods along extensive redistribution networks that connected the highlands, valleys, and Pacific coast. From a utilitarian perspective camelids provided different products (e.g. meat, wool). This chapter illustrates the strategies used by the Incas for managing these ungulates by presenting some case studies from the Qollasuyu, the southeastern quarter of the Inca Empire.
While reports of child sacrifice in the ancient Andes are often sensationalized to captivate popular audiences, the study of the practice provides archaeologists with an important means of investigating power and sociopolitical dynamics in antiquity. This chapter discusses the significance of the terms ‘child’ and ‘sacrifice’ in the Andes and examines the evidence of child sacrifice from ancient contexts in Andean regions of modern-day Peru and Bolivia. It considers data on sacrificial practices from dives sources, such as descriptions in ethnohistorical documents, representations in architectural design and portable art, and direct evidence found in the archaeological record. Finally, various approaches to the study of these sacrifices and possible avenues for future analyses are outlined.
J. Scott Raymond
Ecuador and Peru embrace a large and diverse mountainous landscape stretching from the equator to 18 degrees south latitude. Besides the bounty of protein available from the sea, there are no concentrations of natural food resources that could sustain more than a very small population. Yet it is here that the Inka Empire, the largest and most centralized state in the Pre-Columbian Americas, arose. Beginning with the occupation of the region during the early Holocene, this chapter traces the evolution of the food economies and changes in diet through time, paying attention to intraregional variations. Where possible, multiple lines of evidence are used—archaeofaunal, palaeoethnobotanical, bone isotope, settlement patterns—to elucidate diet and economy. It focuses on changes that were critical to the demographic and political expansion of Andean societies, e.g. crop domestication, technological innovation. Finally, it briefly considers how the Inka conquest impacted the diverse economies of the region.
Stone and ceramic figurines occurred in many pre-Columbian cultures of Amazonia but only appear as recurrent, traditional objects late in the cultural history of the region, primarily in the large settlements which flourished along the Lower Amazon and its estuaries. Marajoara and Santarém ceramics include an array of figurines depicting humans and animals, in languages emphasizing body transformation and reproduction, and, sometimes, decapitation. Some also performed as rattles, or maracas, an instrument traditionally related to shamanic power. Stone figurines from the Lower Amazon present similar modes of body representation and seem to be part of the drug paraphernalia used in shamanic rituals. Rather than being a marker for the appearance of more complex, agrarian societies, Amazonian figurines seem to be related to the intensification of deeply rooted shamanic practices. This chapter reviews the context and repertoires of figurine traditions within the different models proposed in Amazonian archaeology for pre-Columbian societies.
Forests, steppes, and coastlines: zooarchaeology and the prehistoric exploitation of Patagonian habitats
Luis A. Borrero
The human colonization of southern Patagonia began over 11,500 radiocarbon years bp. The first colonizers exploited Pleistocene megamammals and camelids. During the Early Holocene, after the extinction of the megamammals, hunter-gatherers concentrated on the exploitation of camelids. During the Middle Holocene a full exploitation of coastal resources began—pinnipeds, molluscs, and coastal birds. The main trends observed in the exploitation of these animals through time were in the intensity of utilization. Huemul and Rheidae were discontinuously exploited in the interior, particularly in the forests. On the coasts, molluscs, fish, and birds complemented the human diet, especially during the Late Holocene. The main subsistence changes after the European contact resulted from the introduction of sheep and horses.
Indigenous Technologies, Archaeology, and Rural Development in the Andes: Three Decades of Trials in Bolivia, Ecuador, and Peru
This chapter addresses the deployment of selected material elements of indigenous technology in rural development projects inspired by archaeological understandings of raised fields, terraces, and reservoirs in Bolivia, Ecuador, and Peru during the 1980s and 1990s, and asks if and how applied archaeology may help mitigate the negative effects of capitalist expansion. By distinguishing intentions, practices, and consequences of development it identifies applied archaeology as immersed in development policies. Through interviews with agronomists, archaeologists, and campesino farmers, technical errors in past rehabilitation projects are identified and socio-theoretical weaknesses discussed. As a second wave of indigenous technology-inspired projects aims to bolster adaptations to climate change, the chapter highlights the significance and broader importance of the traditions that uphold communal organization, water management, and territorial aspirations, as well as agrobiodiversity.
Marcel Kornfeld and Gustavo G. Politis
The Americas (both North and South) were occupied by anatomically modern humans at least by 11000BP(12,900 calendar years ago)..An Asian origin of the First Americans is demonstrated through biological, linguistic, and archaeological data. Other regions, however, persist as potential points of origin or co-origin. By and immediately following 11000BP, cultural diversity is evident in material culture, subsistence, mobility, technology, and other aspects of early American culture. The first hunter-gatherers that entered the Americas apparently adapted quickly to different and diverse environments from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego and further became differentiated through settling into distinct habitats of the continents. These first groups set the stage for the subsequent 10,000 years of cultural evolution in the Americas.
How do human and landscape histories reciprocally affect each other? Can we distinguish between deliberate and unintended anthropic transformations of the landscape? This chapter summarizes evidence from pre-Columbian Amazonia in order to discuss the relation between three dimensions of anthropic landscape transformations: landscaping, landscape legacies, and landesque capital. Conflation between these three categories can lead to theoretical road closures and certainly risks oversimplifying both causality and consequence when anthropic landscape modifications are considered. On the other hand, paying attention to their differences defines a rich field of research in which historical ecology, earth-scientific thinking, and human niche construction theory converge.
Gustavo G. Politis and Almudena Hernando
This article tries to capture the great diversity of South American hunter-gatherers based on different ‘ethnographic presents’: some of these groups are already extinct whereas others are still hunting and gathering, resisting external pressures. Given the diversity of situations and the difficulty of classification, an ethno/linguistic or a geographical criterion will be used, following in each case the common framework present in current academic literature. The overview reflects an uneven knowledge of these hunter-gatherers, although some trends will be drawn. One of the most important is that some of them may be the result of a historical transformation from horticulturist societies, what should not be judged as a cultural ‘regression’, but rather as the result of political actions determined by the history of the colonization of the continent.