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The Terminal Pleistocene-Early Holocene transition and settlement discontinuities in the arid Central Andes

Author(s): Kurt Rademaker ; Gordon Bromley

Year: 2015

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The Central Andean region poses numerous environmental challenges, including hyper-aridity, rugged topography, strong seasonality, uneven spatial distribution of biotic resources, and high altitude, yet this area was colonized successfully in the Terminal Pleistocene. However, the archaeological record shows considerable discontinuity through the Terminal Pleistocene-Early Holocene transition, with site occupation hiatuses or abandonments often interpreted as having stemmed from unfavorable paleoenvironmental changes. Do settlement discontinuities truly indicate environmental or demographic shifts, or might these result from issues of chronological resolution or taphonomic or research biases?

We integrate paleoclimatic data from the Central Andean region to examine region-scale patterns of environmental change through the Terminal Pleistocene-Early Holocene transition. Examination of available high-resolution archaeological chronologies at the regional scale points to several periods of environmental instability but also to site-scale events. We present an example from the high Andes of southern Peru, which suggests that human-environment dynamics at the site scale can be investigated effectively via the development of paired, local paleoenvironmental and archaeological records.

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The Terminal Pleistocene-Early Holocene transition and settlement discontinuities in the arid Central Andes. Kurt Rademaker, Gordon Bromley. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 395696)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -93.691; min lat: -56.945 ; max long: -31.113; max lat: 18.48 ;

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America