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Chungará (Arica)

On-line version ISSN 0717-7356

Abstract

SANTORO, Calogero M et al. PLEISTOCENE HUMAN OCCUPATION IN THE ATACAMA DESERT: FIRST RESULTS FROM THE APPLICATION OF AN INTERDISCIPLINARY PREDICTIVE RESEARCH MODEL. Chungará (Arica) [online]. 2011, vol.43, n.especial, pp.353-366. ISSN 0717-7356.  http://dx.doi.org/10.4067/S0717-73562011000300003.

In South America, evidence of human occupation dates back to 14,600 calibrated years BP (14.6 ka). Yet, important areas such as the Atacama Desert, between latitude 17° to 21° S (northern Atacama), lack occupations older than 11,5 ka. Current hyperarid conditions in the Atacama have dissuaded many researchers from considering this region as a possible territory for Pleistocene-Holocene peoples. Paleoecological data, however, have suggested increased availability of water along the western slope of the Andes from 17.5-9.5 ka. Thus, we systematically searched for rodent middens and paleowetlands in the large canyons of the Andean Precordillera as well as the interfluves (1,000-3,000 masl). As a result, we identified specific habitats favorable for early human settling. This interdisciplinary and predictive methodological model, summarized in this paper, allowed us to identify several sites. Among these, Quebrada Maní 12 is the first Pleistocene-Holocene human occupation (~11.9 a 12.7 ka) known from the northern Atacama.

Keywords : Pleistocene-Holocene transition; early peopling; paleoenvironment; Atacama Desert.

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