7375 - Animal utilization shift in formative period: climate change or social requirements?

The domestication of Camelids was initiated in the central Andes around BC4000 followed by a gradual shift from hunting to herding in the surrounding areas. Why did prehistoric people de-emphasize their hunting practices and start herding? The classical framework claims that animal domestication was prompted by technical improvements in animal handling, climate changes, and/or the need to expand food items subsequent to population growth. While these hypotheses were proposed based on archaeological models derived mainly from the Middle East, they have yet to be tested in the Americas. The current study is aimed at validating whether or not a correlation exists between resource depression of wild animals and the initiation of herding activity in the Peruvian Andes. In this study, we used zooarchaeological data collected from two Formative sites, Kuntur wasi and Pacopampa. In both assemblages, Camelids start to appear at the sites at the late formative period, but in low proportions. The ratio of Camelids to deer increases through time. At the same time, mortality change of deer is also observed. In middle formative period, mortality pattern of deer exhibited bias for prime. However, those of the later formative periods showed more U-shaped profiles that have more juveniles and old adults. Does the change of mortality pattern indicate environmental degradation? Or does it simply mean the change of human selection of the hunting activities? So far, we have two possible reasons for the mortality shift in the deer hunting. First one emphasizes the environmental factor. In the late formative period, white tailed deer population might have been damaged by the environmental degradation and it caused the bias for juveniles. Second reason focuses on the overall subsistence change caused by the acceptance of Camelids herding. The mortality shift from living structure to the U-shaped, or attritional pattern, may suggests the change of hunting methods from communal drive-in hunting to individual practices.

Keywords: Camelid, herding, hunting, zooarchaeology

Author: Uzawa, Kazuhiro (University of East Asia, Japan / Japan)


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