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date: 26 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

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.

Keywords: maize, Vegas, Wanka, Chavin, Andes, Maritime

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