Agricultural Practices in the Atacama Desert (Northern Chile): New Perspectives from Stable Isotope Analysis on Archaeological Crops
This is an abstract from the "Challenges and Future Directions in Plant Stable Isotope Analysis in Archaeology" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.
Agricultural practice began in arid northern Chile during the Formative Period just prior to 1000 yr BC. Unusually, preservation of crops, including maize, squash, quinoa and beans is excellent due to the extremely arid conditions that characterise the Atacama Desert. In order to explore crop management, and particularly the use of fertilisers, we carried out stable carbon and nitrogen isotope analysis of archaeological plant samples dating from the Formative to the Late Intermediate Period (1000 BC- AD 1450). Prompted by results showing high d15N values for crops from domestic and funerary sites, and by comparisons with modern experimental data (Szpak et al 2012), we explore the ethnohistorical documents that show evidence for manuring in the valleys and oases of the Atacama. Based on these records, different types of fertilisers are discussed in order to explain the high d15N values, including the use of llama dung, llama ashes after incineration, fish-heads, seabird guano and decomposed tree-leaves. We highlight the relevance of fertilisers for the development and consolidation of agriculture in the Atacama.
Cite this Record
Agricultural Practices in the Atacama Desert (Northern Chile): New Perspectives from Stable Isotope Analysis on Archaeological Crops. Francisca Santana Sagredo, Julia Lee-Thorp, Rick Schulting, Mauricio Uribe, Chris Harrod. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 451430)
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min long: -82.441; min lat: -56.17 ; max long: -64.863; max lat: 16.636 ;
Abstract Id(s): 25563