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Agro-pastoralism and social change in the Cuzco heartland of Peru: a brief history using environmental proxies

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 January 2015

Alex Chepstow-Lusty*
Institut Français d'Etudes Andines (IFEA), Av. Arequipa 4500, Lima 18, Peru; Centre for Bio-Archaeology and Ecology, Université Montpellier 2, Montpellier, France (Email:


The author shows how pollen and oribatid mites recovered from the small lake of Marcacocha provide a detailed proxy record of agro-pastoralism over the last 4200 years in the central Andes. The introduction of highland maize and weeding practices 2700 years ago corresponds with major settlement development, as well as evidence for large herds of llamas not only facilitating trade but supplying abundant fertilizer and fuel in the form of excrement. Prolonged droughts and pre-Colombian epidemics probably influenced many of the social changes observed.

Copyright © Antiquity Publications Ltd 2011

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