12,500 Years of Altitude


The earliest occupations in the Salt Puna —a high elevation desert in the Andes Mountains — date to the Pleistocene-Holocene boundary and are relevant to the discussion of the timing of the first exploration and colonization of South American elevations above 3500m, as well as the relationship between mountain environments and other ecological areas. The wooden shafts used in the extractive technologies of the earliest hunter-gatherers originated outside the Puna, in the eastern lowlands. However, the sources of obsidian used for manufacturing projectile points were located at high altitudes in the Puna, between 4000m and 4500m, revealing the existence of adaptations to very high elevations a few millennia after the initial peopling of South America. The implications of these data are broad, as they suggest that early hunter-gatherer groups inhabiting these very high elevations were using resources from far afield and had a good knowledge of the local and regional landscape that extended into adjacent ecological zones located several hundred kilometers away —a familiarity that would have taken several hundred to a few thousand years to develop and possibly enabled them to associate with and rely on neighbors in times of need.

Cite this Record

12,500 Years of Altitude. Elizabeth Pintar, María Fernanda Rodríguez. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 444410)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: -82.441; min lat: -56.17 ; max long: -64.863; max lat: 16.636 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 20600