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The year 2020 was an awakening for some. For others, it reiterated the persistent social injustice in the United States. Compelled by these events, 30 diverse individuals came together from January to May 2021 for a semester-long seminar exploring inequity in archaeological practice. The seminar's discussions spotlighted the inequity and social injustices that are deeply embedded within the discipline. However, inequity in archaeology is often ignored or treated narrowly as discrete, if loosely bound, problems. A broad approach to inequity in archaeology revealed injustice to be intersectional, with compounding effects. Through the overarching themes of individual, community, theory, and practice, we (a subset of the seminar's participants) explore inequity and its role in various facets of archaeology, including North–South relations, publication, resource distribution, class differences, accessibility, inclusive theories, service to nonarchaeological communities, fieldwork, mentorship, and more. We focus on creating a roadmap for understanding the intersectionality of issues of inequity and suggesting avenues for continued education and direct engagement. We argue that community-building—by providing mutual support and building alliances—provides a pathway for realizing greater equity in our discipline.
ABSTRACT.This contribution assesses the latest archaeological evidence for the exploitation of maritime resources by human settlers on the Andean coast of South America. It discusses the extent to which the earliest civilizations of the central Andean region, which flourished c. 3800–1650 BC, depended upon marine resources and considers the importance of fishing and maritime commerce for later Andean societies up to the Spanish conquests of the 16th century AD.
RÉSUMÉ.Cette contribution analyse les dernières découvertes archéologiques de l'exploitation des ressources maritimes par l'être humain sur la côte andine d'Amérique du Sud. Elle étudie dans quelle mesure les civilisations primitives de la région des Andes centrales, qui ont prospéré de c. 3800 à 1650 av. J.-C., ont pu dépendre de ressources marines. Elle réfléchit également à l'importance de la pêche et du commerce maritime chez les sociétés andines plus récentes, jusqu'aux conquêtes espagnoles du 16ème siècle ap. J.-C.
The sea and its resources have played a critical role in the settlement and cultural development of the central Andean region, from the first arrival of humans more than 14,000 years ago through the long span of prehistory and into historic and modern times. This is no surprise – the coast of western South America is one of the world's richest fisheries thanks to upwelling associated with the Humboldt Current that flows north from Antarctica. From the start, Andean peoples have made sophisticated use of maritime resources.
The central Andean region (Figure 1) includes the southern coast of Ecuador, the coast of Peru, and the northern coast of Chile. The entire region is one of the world's driest deserts thanks to the rain-shadow effect of the Andes mountains to the east and the influence of the cold Humboldt Current to the west. Natural and human life, even large populations, are possible in this region because of two factors: the rivers that flow west from the Andes to the shore and the richness of the ocean. The river valleys tend to run perpendicular to the shoreline, creating T-shaped human settlement patterns. Farming is possible only in the valleys and their deltas, where irrigation canals can reach.
Los Morteros (8°39'54"S, 78°42 '00"W) is located in coastal, northern Peru, one of the six original centers of world civilization. The site consists of a large, sand-covered, isolated prominence situated on a Mid-Holocene shoreline, ∽5 km from the present coast. Preceramic archaeological deposits (4040±75 to 4656±60 14C yr BP or ∽3600–5500 cal yr BP) cap this feature, which has been identified by prior researchers as a sand-draped, bedrock-cored landform or a relict dune deposit. Because neither explanation is geomorphologically probable, we used ground-penetrating radar (GPR) and high-resolution mapping to assess the mound's interior structure. Our results indicate an anthropogenic origin for Los Morteros, potentially placing it among the earliest monumental structures in prehistoric South America. The extremely arid setting raises new questions about the purpose and the logistics of early mound construction in this region. This work demonstrates the value of an integrated Quaternary sciences approach to assess long-term landscape change and to understand the interaction between humans and the environment.
Understanding the influence of natural climatic variability on modern fisheries is complicated by over a century of industrial fishing. Archaeological data provide unique opportunities for assessing precolonial and preindustrial fisheries. Records show that anchoveta-vs sardine-dominated fisheries correlate with 20th-century climate change in the Pacific Basin and are linked to multidecadal climatic variability. The “anchovy regime” is characterized by cooler conditions and lower frequency El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events, while the “sardine regime” is associated with warmer conditions and higher frequency ENSO. Fish remains excavated at Lo Demás, an Inca-period (ca. A.D. 1480–1540) fishing site at 13°25′S on the Peruvian coast, document a shift from an anchoveta-to a sardine-dominated fishery at about A.D. 1500. This shift correlates with records for increasing ENSO frequency at the same time. Middle and late Holocene sites have archaeofish assemblages that also suggest regime changes. Here we show that changes in fish regimes can result from natural variability and we support the potential role of archaeological assemblages in tracking multidecadal climate change in the Pacific Basin throughout the Holocene (0–11,500 cal yr B.P.).
Fronting the Pacific Ocean in southern Ecuador, Peru and northern Chile (~2°–32° S), the central Andean coast has played a critical role in South American history from the earliest human settlement more than thirteen thousand years ago to the present. As recently as the 1960s, Peru was the world’s top fishing nation. The leaders of that country’s 1968 military coup intended to fund much of their social and economic reforms with the proceeds from the fishery, but a combination of overexploitation and the 1972 El Niño caused a precipitous decline in the catch. Combined with other natural events such as the massive 1970 earthquake off the port of Chimbote and anthropogenic factors related to the new regime’s social and economic policies, the collapse of the fishery led ultimately to the downfall of the military government and to years of economic difficulty and social unrest (Masterson 2009).
Prior to the Spanish Conquest in 1532 ce, we lack the detailed historic record that allows us to see the role of the coast in modern Andean history. However, the archaeological record does give us the outlines of prehistoric human settlement, economy, adaptation and change in the region from the initial settlement onwards. We can assume that this history was coloured by the particular environment, climate and biotic resources of the region, without their necessarily being determining factors. In an interesting twist that brings these strands back together, until recently the most complete display of Peru’s prehistory was at the Museum of the Nation, housed in a monumental eleven-storey concrete structure originally built by the military government for the Ministry of Fisheries.
Mollusk shells provide brief (<5 yr per shell) records of past marine conditions, including marine radiocarbon reservoir age (R) and upwelling. We report 21 14C ages and R calculations on small (∼2 mg) samples from 2 Mesodesma donacium (surf clam) shells. These shells were excavated from a semi-subterranean house floor stratum 14C dated to 7625 ± 35 BP at site QJ-280, Quebrada Jaguay, southern Peru. The ranges in marine 14C ages (and thus R) from the 2 shells are 530 and 170 14C yr; R from individual aragonite samples spans 130 ± 60 to 730 ± 170 14C yr. This intrashell 14C variability suggests that 14C dating of small (time-slice much less than 1 yr) marine samples from a variable-R (i.e. variable-upwelling) environment may introduce centuries of chronometric uncertainty.
Incised pebbles found at the mid-Holocene, Middle Preceramic period Ostra Base Camp site on the Peruvian north coast demonstrate long-distance links to coastal Ecuador, 700 km to the north. The artifacts belong to a northwestern Andean pebble-figurine tradition associated with the tropical coast. Environmental indicators at the Ostra site show a warm-water lagoonal environment, unlike the modern cold-water conditions of northwestern Peru but similar to modern Ecuador. The Ostra site dates between ca. 5500 and 6250 B.P. (3550 and 4300 B.C.), during a hiatus in the coastal Ecuadorian record, so the link to Ecuador provides the earliest evidence of long-distance cultural interaction between these regions. Until contemporary sites are found in Ecuador, the Ostra Base Camp site provides our only example for this time of tropical coastal cultures of the northwestern Andean interaction sphere.
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