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.
Menaker, Alexander and Kurt Rademaker, 2023. Obsidian from the Valley of Volcanoes, Peru. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 51: 104173. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jasrep.2023.104173
Portable x-ray fluorescence provenance analysis of obsidian artifacts from archaeological sites in the Andagua valley of southern Peru. Obsidian was brought to the valley from the Alca obsidian source on the adjacent plateau and from the distant sources Chivay and Quispisisa. Lack of evidence for Wari or Tiwanaku presence in the valley suggests that decentralized exchange systems linked people in the valley to neighboring and distant groups.
Meinekat, Sarah, Emily B. P. Milton, Brett Furlotte, Sonia Zarrillo, and Kurt Rademaker, 2023. Fire as high-elevation cold adaptation: An evaluation of fuels and Terminal Pleistocene combustion in the central Andes. Quaternary Science Reviews 316(108244):1-22. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.quascirev.2023.108244
Our review indicates widespread fire use in the Late Pleistocene occupations of the high Andes of South America. Experimental combustion highlights 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.
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 x-ray fluorescence 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 Oxygen Isotopes in Precipitation Calculator and isoscape geospatial modeling should be used with care.
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