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Updates from the 2018 field season

Updated: Apr 19, 2022

Author: Kurt Rademaker.

In June 2018 our team traveled to Arequipa, Peru to conduct a series of field and lab studies. The archaeology team included Kurt Rademaker, Katherine Moore, David Reid, Sonia Zarrillo, Mike Cook, Brett Furlotte, Emily Milton, Dani Osorio, Taylor Panczak, and Lauren Pratt. We linked up with our glacial geology colleagues Gordon Bromley and Maggie Jackson for field work in late July and capped off the season with a climb of Nevado Chachani.

We began a long-anticipated project analyzing archaeological collections from sites the team has excavated from 2010-2015: “Adaptations and inter-zonal connections in a system of early settlement" authorized by the Peruvian Ministry of Culture (RD-205-2017).

This project includes collections from the Terminal Pleistocene sites Quebrada Jaguay, Pucuncho and Cuncaicha workshops, and Cuncaicha rockshelter, the Early Holocene sites Carbun Ruan rockshelter and Pampa Colorada, and a series of Late Holocene rockshelters. The collections included thousands of stone tools and associated manufacturing debris, ceramic sherds, faunal and paleoethnobotanical remains, bone and shell beads, quartz crystals, and other rare objects. Our objectives: to study the technology, subsistence and mobility patterns, and activities from early sites at the Pacific coast and Andean highlands. We aim to learn more about the ways of life of some of the first settlers of South America and to figure out how early people living at the coast and in the highlands formed and maintained inter-zonal connections over thousands of years. These kinds of vertical connections may have formed the foundation of later Andean patterns.

- Kate Moore and Emily Milton analyzed faunal remains and identified bone tools and beads

- Mike Cook, Dani Osorio, Taylor Panczak, Lauren Pratt, and Kurt Rademaker worked with the extensive lithic collections, studying technology, projectile point morphology, and raw material provenance (see Dani Osorio's and Taylor Panczak's updates)

- Sonia Zarrillo and Brett Furlotte recovered ancient plant remains from sediment samples and artifacts (see Brett Furlotte's update)

- David Reid analyzed ceramics to understand the Late Holocene record of the Pucuncho Basin

We also began a series of field investigations -

- Survey to map and sample petrified wood and other silica rocks found at intermediate elevations (1200 m above sea level). Many of these rocks occur as artifacts at early sites at the coast and highlands, indicating inter-zonal travel or interaction across this spectacular desert landscape (see Mike Cook's update)

- Collection of botanical specimens in a coast-highland transect to assist in the identification of ancient plant specimens recovered from early sites in both zones (see Brett Furlotte's update)

- Collection of water samples and modern and archaeological camelid specimens in the Pucuncho Basin for oxygen isotope analysis. This work will help us determine seasonality of occupation in the highland sites and eventually provide key data on Andean precipitation patterns over the past 12,500 years (see Emily Milton's update)

- Paleoenvironmental studies near Nevado Coropuna to study past environmental change

Stay tuned - We will be posting updates written by Paleo Andes team members showcasing different aspects of this work. Please feel free to comment, ask questions, and share with others!

Brett and Sonia look towards the Pacific coast while out on Botanical Survey.

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