Aldenderfer the Archaic Period


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Norte Grande
  < i· t. : .; . Journal of World Prehistory Vol. 3 No. 2 1989 The Archaic Period n the South Central Andes Mark S Aldenderfer   Although the Archaic Period of the south-central Andes is not well-known beyond Latin America there is much of nterest in it to archaeologists working with foraging populations. Like the North American Archaic nd European Mesolithic the Archaic in the region is characterized by ethnic differentiation changes in the scale and requency of residential mobility resource intensification and specializat ion and population growth. The srcin and evolutionary trajectory of hese trends are discussed within the context of he development of ecological complementarity a strategy of land u se that exploits the vertically stratified distribution of resources in the Andean environment. KEY WORDS: Archaic Period; Preceramic; South America; ecological complementarity; camelid domestication; transhumance. INTRODUCTION Significant advances have been made in our understanding of the Archaic Period 10,000-3500 B.P.) of the south-central Andes since the explorations of Max Uhle in the early twentieth century. While most of these have been accomplished uri~g the past two decades by Chilean, Peruvian, Bolivian, and Argentinian archaeologists, Europeans and North Americans have also made important contributions. Despite this long history of research, however, relatively little is known of the causes and contexts of observed cultural change thoughout the Archaic Period. Most archaeologists in the southcentral Andes emphasize cultural-historical reconstructions, and furthermore, much research has been exploratory in intent. Research strategies have been consistent with the desire to reconstruct cultural history, and professional journals of the region emphasize publication of site reports, descriptions of Department of Anthropology, Northwestern n iversity, Evanston, Illinois 60208. 7 ã  0 I 118 Aldenderfer artifacts, and presentation of radiocarbon assays. Relatively few interpretative essays have been published, and most are limited to relatively small drainages or basins within the region. Regional or synthet ic research is generally focused on comparison of projectile point styles and trait lists to other areas within and beyond the south-central Andes and tends to be diffusionist in tone. These strategies are very similar to those associated with the Classificatory-Historical period of North American archaeology (Willey and Sabloff, 1980), and they seem dated to contemporary archaeologists in much of North America. Thus, descriptions of the Archaic Period have adopted one of three perspectives: (I) Archaic societies were t ransitional or experimental societies that eventually adopted various forms of sedentary life (Willey, 1971 , p. 50; Nunez, 1983, p. 172); (2) a generalized system of seasonal interregional exchange and resource exploitation persisted virtually unchanged for over 7000 years (Kolata, 1983, p. 273); and (3) significant cultural change did not occur until the introduction of various cultigens from the north and east (Munoz, 1982, 1986; Munoz and Chacama, 1982; Dauelsberg, 1986). These positions can be subsumed under two approaches: (1) evolutionist, with slow, directed change toward emergent complexity; and (2) diffusionist, with sources of change lying beyond the south-central Andes. In this view, the region essentially reacted to innovation or movements of population from external sources (Mujica, 19 8 5) . In one sense, both approaches are valid; compared to some parts of the world that underwent the broad -spectrum revolution in subsistence strategy in postglacial times (Flannery, 1986), the pace of change in the south-central Andes appears to be slow. But why is it slow? And while certain cultigens such as maize, carnote rnandioca and cotton, among others, did in fact diffuse into the region from the north and east, we know little about the reasons that lay behind their acceptance. Furthermore, the possibility of indigenous domestication of tubers and camelids has never been examined in detail (Lynch, 1983a). In short, there have been few atte mpts to explain processes of cultural change. A potentially powerful approach which can be used to examine processes of cultural change during the Archaic is to consider the srcins and evolution of ecological complementarity. As srcinally conceived by Murra (1972), complementarity is a form of land use characterized by direct, central control of vertically stratified resource-producing zones ( vertical archipelagos ). Puna-based societies reliant upon tuber production and pastoralism would attempt to control sierra valley production of maize and cotton through state-supported mechanisms of centralized redistribution. Early debate centered around the mode of control: establishment of colonies, conquest, or state-controlled exchange. Independent interzonal trade and exchange were The Archaic Period in the South-Central Andes 119 deemed unimportant. From an ecological perspective, the system operated to buffer risk for puna polities by increasing their access to a wide variety of resources. Since its publication, other forms of Andean complementarity have been recognized, and attempts have been made to generalize their salient characteristics across a number of environmental and social parameters (Salomon, 1985). Two dimensions of variability are important: (I) decentralized or reciprocity-based systems versus centralized, redistributive systems; and 2) systems based on direct access to resources versus those based on indirect access, primarily different modes of trade, exchange, and barter. This dimension also includes the number of external contacts a group must maintain in order to obtain access to desired resources (Salomon, 1985, pp. 513-516). Seasonal residential mobility (direct access by foragers to multiple resource zones without an exchange medium) could be considered to be a very simple form of ecological complementarity (Lynch, 1971, 1981; Mujica, 1985). A modification of direct access through unhindered mobility is buffering (Spielmann, 1986), in which periodic resource shortages faced by a group are countered by movement of that group, with permission, into the territory of another group. More complex forms of reciprocitybased complementarity that increase the number of external contacts include the formation of exchange relationships between groups in different resource zones, such as mutualism (Spielmann, 19 86), a strategy based upon the regular exchange of subsistence resources between groups able to produce surpluses, home-base or boundary reciprocity, and downthe-line trading (Renfrew, 1975, pp. 41-43; Shimada, 19 8 5, p. 382; Salomon, 1985). The challenge facing archaeologists in the south-central Andes is (I) to identify when and where multiple-resource zone utiliz at ion by a single group appears, (2) to determine which forms of complementarity exist, and (3) to explain the causal forces that lay behind the stability or transformation of different forms of complementarity. Thus, if seasonal interregional exchange and resource exploitation can be considered a form of ecological complementarity, why does it appear to remain unchanged for almost 7000 years? Is it characteristic of the entire region, or is it best restricted to a more limited spatial and temporal context? The archaeological problem is to identi fy th e material correl at es of these anthropological processes, and to do so, the following specific questions must be answered. (1) When does social or ethnic differentiation begin in the region, and where are these distinct social entities located? Aside from unhindered settle ment mobility, all forms of complementarity require the existence of distinct social entities for their operation.  120 Aldenderfer 2) How do settlement patterns change through time, and how do these changes correspond to changing economic patterns, population size, and population density? What is the scale of residential mobility, and how does it change through time? 3) What resources can be intensified in the region, and what is the form of intensification? Where and when does surplus production of resources appear, and is this process related to resource specialization and domestication? 4) What is the spatial distribution of different types of resources? When do resources produced in the Andean highlands appear at sites in lower elevations? What kinds of resources are found, and in what quantities do they appear? ENVIRONMENTAL CONTEXT Regional Ecology The south-central Andes are found in Peru, Bolivia, Chile, and Argentina and can be divided into five major subregions: the valles occidentales, the Titicaca basin or circumtiticaca, the altiplano meridional, the circumpunena, and the valluna (Fig. 1) . Despite differences created by topography and climate, each subregion can be characterized by three primary features: 1) ecological zones that vary with changes in altitude, creating a vertical banding of habitats from the coast to puna; (2) pervasive aridity leading to low primary plant productivity and the clustering of resources around permanent water sources; and 3) high variance and unpredictability in the availability of resources in most habitats (Molina and Little, 1981). Climate and ecology are strongly affected by the geographical massiveness and high altitude of the Andes and by the interplay between latitude and altitude (Winterhalder and Thomas, 1978, p. 12). Rainfall tends to decrease from northwest to southeast and from northeast to southwest across the two cordilleras of the Andes. The Atacama desert extends over all elevation gradients, and some areas, particularly around the Salar de Atacama and the adjacent western valleys of the circumpunena, receive virtually no rainfall. Rainfall has a generally se asonal distribution, with a wet season from December to April, but its predictability in amount and frequency decreases from north to south (Aldenderfer, 1989a). Although each of the subregions possesses a mosaic of microenvironments, it is possible to generalize about ecological structure. A number of authors, most notably Cabrera (1968), Winterhalder and Thomas (1978), Dollfus 19 8 1) , and Nunez (1983), have defined the fo ll ow in g ha bi tats: The Archaic Period in the South-Central Andes / / PERU 7 ° I / '-.. I eAREOUIP - / ,, I ~ < / ~o;J f ntft,O _ c _ \ VALLES 20°- ' COCH A8A M 6A . · - _   _ L_ - ·, ORUfi(\ . . . \ . ·   · ;~   -· ; og o de 1 : :· }: Poo p~ / · . -\ ~ .:·: : I ALTIPLA ·N·o porost MERIDIONAL e I 65° I \. \ \ \ I : ~ ~ ~~:. ~ :. ; ~:: 8 0 L I V I A \ 121 \ \ / ~ uy u n ;::. :. \ CHIlE /\   :::-=-=-=-=~ \ VAL L UNA /..._ - -1 - - ~   -/ N I 0 25C Km . ; v· .. ·· eJ L ãJUY I / eS ALTA / / ARGENTINA I Fig. 1. The south-central Andes and its major regional divisions.   22 PERU ( ·  ·--- ·. \ Poe i fie cean D ,., C D Coastal es ert Low Sierra H igh Sier ra Salt Dry Wet Puna L omas Solares Fig. 2. Habitats of the south-central Andes. A ld enderfer T iticoc BOLIVIA 1) fertile coast and li ttoral, (2) interfluvial desert coast, (3) lo w transverse valleys and basins, ( 4) high transverse valleys and basins, and (5) puna or altiplano, which includes four subtypes: wet, dry, salt, and suni (Fig. 2). These habitats differ primarily in temperature and precipitation, variations in vegetation communities, and the presence of special features, such as lomas  salt lakes and pans, small freshwater lakes, and bofedales bogs which are ,highly productive pasturage for camelids in high elevation zones of the region. While quantitative comparisons of the productivity of each habitat are not possible, relative rankings of their importance for foraging peoples can be made (Table I). Clearly, the fertile coast, wet puna  and dr y puna are the The Archaic Period in the South-Central Andes 23 most attractive habitats based on relatively high productivity and low uncertainty. While there is some seasonal complementarity of periods of optimal resource availability between the coast and puna both can be utilized year-round by groups with low population density. Seasonal compleme nt arity is more pronounced in the salt puna which is almost uninhabitable during the dry season due to very low temperatures and the lack of water and edible resources. All other habitats offer combinations of relatively low productivity and moderate uncertainty, which served to limit their utility to foraging peoples. All habitats, however, can be used on a seasonal basis. aleoenvironments While significant advances have been made in our understanding of the paleoenvironments in the south-central Andes during the past decade, paleoclimatic reconstructions have been of an extremely small scale, and consequently, there is considerable confusion and debate over the timing of important post-Pleistocene events and details of climatic structure. The glacial epoch ended between 12,000 and 10,000 B. P. (Wright, 1983; Lynch, 1983b, 1986). The retreat of the ice sheets directly affected the habitability of the high elevations, inundating the continental shelf of the western coast of South America. During the Pleistocene and in the immediate postglacial period, most areas over 3500 m in elevation would have been uninhabitable due to cold and snows, but refugia could have been occupied on a temporary basis during minor glacial retreats. Lower elevations, such as the low and high sierras, would have been very favorable habitats for human utilization. Also, much of the altiplano meridional and circumpunena areas that now contain large numbers of salares were once the site s of large, deep freshwater lakes that probably resembled modern Lake Junin in productivity (Lynch, 1986). ow long this relatively productive climate persisted into the postglacial period is a significant question, because it directly affects reconstructions of the Early Archaic. As monitored from Quereo, an import ant site lying just below the southern boundary of the south-central Andes (Nunez et at. 1983), the entire south-central Andes has undergone progressive desiccation during the p.ast 20,000 years (Paskoff, 1977). The Younger Dryas (10,500-6500 B.P.) was a period of increased moisture and cooler temperatures compared to the modern climate. This would have had an increased resource density and patch size. Rainfall periodicity is unknown, but it is likely to have been more predictable than today. The Boreal (6500-5500 B.P.) was characterized by a warming and drying trend which wou ld have intensified clustering and lowered productivity and predictability of resources. During the Atlantic
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