The archaeological record of the late Pleistocene period of the New World, between 14,000 and 11,000 years ago, represents the continued spread of human groups into many previously unoccupied or unavailable areas of the North and South American continents (Bryan 1991; Dillehay 1999, 2000a,b; Lavallée 2000; Meltzer 2009; Rothhammer and Dillehay 2009). As this colonization of new environmental zones occurred there was a concurrent rise in the diversity of mobility, subsistence, and technological strategies pursued by early populations (Borrero 1996; Kaulicke and Dillehay 1999a,b; Maggard 2010; Politis 1991). Nowhere is this pattern more evident than in western South America where several coterminous or overlapping complexes, including the Fishtail, Paiján, and several other bifacial and unifacial complexes, have been documented. As for Peru and the study area, it was probably first populated by way of a coastal route along the Pacific shoreline or from the crest of the nearby Andean highlands sometime before 13000 bp.
An abundance of new literature exists on the first peopling of the Americas, which will not be reviewed here. However, for the purpose of situating our database within this broader literature, we make a few brief introductory comments. We recognize that the distinct adaptive modes associated with Fishtail, Paiján, and other lithic industries may be related to different strategies of colonization. For instance, Beaton (1991) and others have posited a model of colonization strategies that emphasizes two distinct forms of social organization (cf. Dillehay 1997b; Dixon 1999; Maggard 2010).