No masters, no crops: A long-term archaeological and satellite imagery study of forager societies in the Camarones Basin (Northern Chile), ca 3700 – 400 BP
Oyaneder Rodriguez, A
Date: 17 January 2022
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
Doctor of Philosophy in Archaeology
The transition from foraging to the domestication of plants and animals in the Atacama Desert (ca. 3,000 BP) seemed to spark the emergence of social complexity, sedentarism, and the end for Hunter-Gatherer lifeways. Nonetheless, ethnohistorical evidence suggests the opposite. To challenge current narratives this work proposes an ...
The transition from foraging to the domestication of plants and animals in the Atacama Desert (ca. 3,000 BP) seemed to spark the emergence of social complexity, sedentarism, and the end for Hunter-Gatherer lifeways. Nonetheless, ethnohistorical evidence suggests the opposite. To challenge current narratives this work proposes an alternative perspective where the key is to ignore simple versus complex dichotomy and instead look deeply at the sources of evidence available. To test this proposed new narrative the basin of the Camarones Valley was the sampling area; a river valley located at the core of the Atacama that covers latitudinally from the Andean mountains to the Pacific. Therefore, an assessment of historical sources, the interpretation of freely available satellite imagery, and a sample of the new sites remotely sensed were surveyed. As a result, approximately 2,000 new archaeological sites in the basin of Camarones shows that agriculture was very limited, small-scale sites constitutes 90% of the record, and that pre-Hispanic people settled and moved around the landscape as a whole deriving in a high-mobility landscape showing limited evidence of sedentarism, disproving the current narrative of 'social complexity' and its close relation with sedentism. With this new information, a reorganization of the current multi-ethnic paradigm was also proposed for the different periods after the Formative. This change reflects that at least two distinct groups of foragers inhabited the western Chilean valleys during the Late Intermediate Period, and possibly prior to this. Finally, together with the proposal of the paradigmatic enhancement, it was possible to identify two types of archaeological sites unpublished for the Camarones Valley, the stoneworks for hunting called chaku and caycu. These have great implications for future research that will allow us to know in more detail the role of hunters in pre-Hispanic times.
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