"Diet and connections among cultural groups in the Atacama Desert during the Late Intermediate Period (AD 950-1450)


The Pica-Tarapacá and the Atacama cultures appeared in northern Chile during the Late Intermediate Period, after the decline of the Tiwanaku state. Archaeological data suggests that both groups practiced maize agriculture and pastoralism to variable degrees, but their trade and exchange links differed significantly. Interaction with coastal groups, in the form of fish and other marine resources is common in the Pica-Tarapacá sites. The Atacama groups, who occupied the Atacama oases and pre-cordilleran area, seemed to have directed their networks towards the highlands instead. Here we applied stable isotope ratio analysis of carbon, nitrogen and oxygen to test the archaeological reconstructions of their dietary patterns and residential mobility. Our results show that diet amongst Tarapacá and Atacama cultures differed significantly: the Atacama group was mainly based on the consumption of terrestrial resources, while values for the Tarapacá group indicate consumption of both marine resources and maize. Oxygen isotope values from at least five individuals strongly suggest the presence of foreigners in the cemetery associated with the Picá-Tarapacá culture, consistent with evidence for high mobility patterns during this period. This evidence for human mobility accompanies the high levels of trade and interaction observed in the archaeological record.

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"Diet and connections among cultural groups in the Atacama Desert during the Late Intermediate Period (AD 950-1450). Francisca Santana Sagredo, Julia Lee-Thorp, Rick Schulting, Mauricio Uribe. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 397739)

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