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Satellite Remote Sensing of Archaeological Environmental Change in the Chicama Valley

Author(s): Benjamin Vining

Year: 2017

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As global ecological change becomes a pressing contemporary issue, it’s beneficial to also consider how long term land use histories have effected current ecologies. Using imagery from several multispectral remote sensing satellites and field verification of detected sites, I describe how legacies from archaeological occupations impact modern industrial sugarcane production in the Chicama valley. Occupation sites and agricultural systems, both extant and remnant, continue to influence sugarcane phenological development. These anthropogenic features result from highly localized changes in groundwater and soil water potential, which in turn produce differentials in plant-available essential nutrients and moisture. In many cases, crop losses result. This remote sensing-aided approach further documents many archaeological features unrecorded in prior surveys. Settlement analysis suggests an abrupt coastward shift in populations between the Moche and Lambayeque cultures; dispersal into more, smaller sites; and an increased reliance on anthropogenic ponds (cochas) in the latter period. These shifts may be linked to changes in groundwater hydrology. Modern small-scale farming and wetlands ecology continue to benefit from anthropogenic wetlands originating in the Lambayeque periods. Both findings show the importance of archaeological land use legacies and path dependence on the modern ecological function of the Chicama Valley.

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Satellite Remote Sensing of Archaeological Environmental Change in the Chicama Valley. Benjamin Vining. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 429281)


Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 14782

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