Pre-Inka and Inka (A.D.1000-1500) agriculture in the Atacama Puna. Evidences through microfossils attached to lithic hoes.

Author(s): Virginia Mcrostie

Year: 2015


This research is part of the ongoing Conicyt-NSF project "WATER MANAGEMENT AND AGROHYDRAULIC SYSTEMS IN DESERT ENVIRONMENTS: THE UPPER LOA FROM A.D. 1000 – 1500". Complex irrigation systems and extensive terraces are silent testimony to the outstanding achievement of these agricultural societies in a highly arid and extreme environment. Within an interdisciplinary framework, archaeobotanical analyses are providing preliminary and novel information about the crops that were planted during Pre-Inka and Inka times in two sites: Panire and Topain. Residue analyses have been done for hoes collected on the surface of the terraces and farm fields. Pilot screenings reveal a dense presence of starch grains, whose characteristics resemble highlands tubers: Oxalis tuberosum, Tropaeolum tuberosum, Ullucus tuberosum and/or potential varieties of Solanum tuberosum. The lack of non-indigenous evidences on these sites and their extreme isolation argues against contamination. Future work is aimed towards further discriminating the taxonomy of these archaeological starch grains. These findings contribute to a better understanding of the local prehistory, and the impact that the Inkas produced in the local economy. They also allow us to begin to understand local agroecological practices, which today have practically vanished due to desertification and urban migration.

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Pre-Inka and Inka (A.D.1000-1500) agriculture in the Atacama Puna. Evidences through microfossils attached to lithic hoes.. Virginia Mcrostie. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 397905)

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Spatial Coverage

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