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Unearthing the Deep Roots of the Long-term Human History and Environmental Interaction in the Atacama Desert

Author(s): Calogero Santoro ; José M Capriles ; Claudio Latorre ; Eugenia Gayo ; Ricardo De Pol Holz

Year: 2017

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Summary

New archaeological evidence demonstrates that by 12,800 years ago, bands of hunter-gatherers effectively occupied the hyperarid basins of the Atacama Desert. The selection of the habitats they exploited and the location of their activity areas were constrained by specific environmental circumstances that coincide with positive moisture anomalies that provided abundant resources. The distributions and properties of which were likely managed by these people to create complex landscapes using specialized adaptive strategies. It is still uncertain, however, whether these people were the first to occupy the desert or if they were preceded by a wave of even earlier colonizers engaged in exploratory tactics. Considering that by at least 14,500 years ago, humans inhabited the southern tip of South America (i.e. Monte Verde), and that favorable environmental conditions existed in the Atacama Desert between 17,000 and 14,000 years ago, we discuss the idea that human occupations in the Atacama Desert were likely preceded by an even earlier phase of exploration. This means the first migratory South American groups traversed and eventually colonized the Atacama Desert perhaps as early as 15,000 years ago under environmental conditions that would have been extremely favorable to human dispersion.


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Unearthing the Deep Roots of the Long-term Human History and Environmental Interaction in the Atacama Desert. Calogero Santoro, José M Capriles, Claudio Latorre, Eugenia Gayo, Ricardo De Pol Holz. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431029)


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Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 16773

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