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When and by which routes did Paleoindians enter the Americas, and how did they adapt to inhabit different ecological zones?

Our group seeks to understand the timing, routes, and environmental setting of the earliest human dispersals in western South America.

We integrate archaeology, physical anthropology, genetics, and Quaternary science to study prehistoric settlement systems -  linked archaeological sites situated in multiple ecological zones from the Pacific coast to the high Andes.

This work provides information about the long-term history and co-evolution of humans and ecological systems, and the formation of landscapes.


Meinekat, Sarah, Emily B. P. Milton, Brett Furlotte, Sonia Zarrillo, and Kurt Rademaker. Fire as a high-elevaiton cold adaptation: An evaluation of fuels and Terminal Pleistocene combustion in the Central Andes. Quaternary Science Reviews 316(108244):1-22.

Our review indicates widespread fire use in the Late Pleistocene occupations of the high Andes of South America. Experimental combustion suggests multiple effective fuels in the Puna ecoregion, and microscopic ash analysis of experimental and archaeological materials suggests early use of Azorella compacta cushion plants as a high-temperature fuel.

A free version of the article can be accessed here:

Reid, David A., Patrick Ryan Williams, Kurt Rademaker; Nicholas Tripcevich, and Michael D. Glascock, 2022. The characterization of small-sized obsidian debitage using p-XRF: A case study from Arequipa, Peru. In Obsidian Across the Americas: Compositional Studies Conducted in the Elemental Analysis Facility at the Field Museum of Natural History, edited by Gary M. Feinman and Danielle J. Riebe, pp. 124-147. Archaeopress.

Provenance analysis of obsidian artifacts from the Majes Valley of Arequipa, Peru dating to the Middle
Horizon period (AD 600–1000). The approach includes
multivariate analyses to mitigate the challenges of using portable XRF on small artifacts.


Milton, Emily B.P., Nathan Stansell, Herve Bocherens, Annalis Brownlee, Dobereiner Chala-Aldana, and Kurt Rademaker, 2022. Examining surface water δ18O and δ2H values in the western central Andes: A watershed moment for anthropological mobility studies. Journal of Archaeological Science 146: 10565. 

Environmental sampling of surface waters in a coast-to-highland transect reveals that oxygen and hydrogen isotopes may not support human and animal mobility analyses in the western central Andes. Additionally, tools like the OIPC and isoscape geospatial modeling should be used with care.

Burger, Richard L., Eisei Tsurumi, Matthew Boulanger, Kurt Rademaker, Veronique Belisle, and Michael D. Glascock, 2022. Sayrosa, a minor obsidian source in the puna of Arequipa. Ñawpa Pacha (Journal of the Institute of Andean Studies) 42(2): 185-204.

Discovery and geochemical characterization of the Sayrosa obsidian source in southern Peru. Sayrosa obsidian was transferred across the Andes to archaeological sites in the valley of Cusco.

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