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744 - The Prehistory of Coastal Northern Chile: A Multi-Focus and Multi-Disciplinary Approach.

18.07.2012 | 17:30 - 19:30
19.07.2012 | 17:30 - 19:30

Convener 1: Santoro, Calogero (Instituto de Alta Investigacion, Departamento de Antropologia, Universidad de Tarapaca , Arica, Chile / Chile)
Convener 2: Carter, Christopher (School of Archaeology & Anthropology, Australian National University, Canberra, Austria / Österreich)

Coastal northern Chile, the western fringe off the Atacama Desert, is an area rich in archaeological resources - from the Chinchorro, the oldest artificial mummies in the world, through to remnants of the Inka Empire. The history of the pre-Columbian people in this remote corner of the earth is full of innovation produced by a talented group of people, which are hidden in a rather non-hierarchical social tissue. The origins of these processes are associated with the ending of the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM, ca. 21-17 ka) at which time two significant issues developed in this Desert: the beginning of human colonization (~15,000-13,500 cal B.P.), deeply related to the colonization of South America; and the advent of ENSO (El Niño Southern Oscillation), which became more intense and frequent throughout the Holocene; and affected the environment and the economy of people all the way to the high Andes.

Among the coastal groups, the Chinchorro emerged as a good example for their technological mastering of marine resources and the complex way of treating their dead that included artificial mummification, treatment more commonly associated with hierarchical forms of social organization. Remnants of the technological solutions of the Chinchorro lasted along the coast until the 16th century, and descendants of these ancient populations can still be found in certain coastal locations.

Archaeologists have been attracted to this area for over one hundred and fifty years and artifacts from the early collections can be found all over the world. Archaeological research continues however the focus has gone far beyond that of the antiquarian and collector. Recent investigations at this region have sought to understand the origins of the early settlers; the development of their economy and reconstruction of prehistoric diets; the introduction of horticulture and pastoralism; the development of art and ritual use of colour along with the influence of highland interaction. Such studies have utilised a range of techniques and technologies including stable isotope analysis to analyse diet; ancient DNA studies to understand the impact of migration; OSL dating and site formation processes; paleo-botany and zoo-archaeology.

This symposium intends to present a range of papers to highlight the multi-focus and multi-disciplinary research carried out in the region and will use recent archaeological investigations at Caleta Vitor, in the far north of Chile, as a case study.

Keywords: Chile, Atacama Desert, zoo-archeology, Chinchorro

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