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Early Occupation of the Altiplano of Northern Chile: Activities, Technology, and Mobility

Author(s): Daniela Osorio ; Calogero Santoro ; Marcela Sepúlveda ; José Capriles ; Paula Ugalde

Year: 2016

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The problem of how and when the Andean highland (≥ 3,400 m above sea level) west of the Atacama Desert was colonized by humans has recently been the subject of extensive interdisciplinary research. New information challenges traditional interpretations that occupation of this extreme environment started relatively late in the process of peopling South America. Based on archaeological and paleoecological data from various sites in northern Chile, we propose that the Altiplano, a mega-ecological patch, was occupied during the Pleistocene-Holocene transition (ca. 12,000 cal year B.P.) by mobile hunter-gatherers. We describe the lithic technology, faunal remains, and other archaeological materials, such as pigments and ornaments (bone and shell beads), present at the sites. We argue that mobility within this highland environment was logistically organized, and that early people curated their lithic tools, as evidenced in diagnostic projectile points and other stone tools.

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Early Occupation of the Altiplano of Northern Chile: Activities, Technology, and Mobility. Daniela Osorio, Calogero Santoro, Marcela Sepúlveda, José Capriles, Paula Ugalde. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 404045)


Geographic Keywords
South America

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