Humans permanently occupied the Andean highlands by at least 7 ka
Stefanescu, Ioana C.
Aldenderfer, Mark S.
Clementz, Mark T.
Murphy, Melissa S.
Llave, Carlos Viviano
Watson, James T.
AffiliationUniv Arizona, Arizona State Museum
Univ Arizona, Sch Anthropol
MetadataShow full item record
CitationHumans permanently occupied the Andean highlands by at least 7 ka 2017, 4 (6):170331 Royal Society Open Science
JournalRoyal Society Open Science
Rights© 2017 The Authors. Published by the Royal Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License
Collection InformationThis item from the UA Faculty Publications collection is made available by the University of Arizona with support from the University of Arizona Libraries. If you have questions, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
AbstractHigh-elevation environments above 2500 metres above sea level (m.a.s.l.) were among the planet's last frontiers of human colonization. Research on the speed and tempo of this colonization process is active and holds implications for understanding rates of genetic, physiological and cultural adaptation in our species. Permanent occupation of high-elevation environments in the Andes Mountains of South America tentatively began with hunter-gatherers around 9 ka according to current archaeological estimates, though the timing is currently debated. Recent observations on the archaeological site of Soro Mik'aya Patjxa (8.0-6.5 ka), located at 3800 m.a.s.l. in the Andean Altiplano, offer an opportunity to independently test hypotheses for early permanent use of the region. This study observes low oxygen (delta O-18) and high carbon (delta C-13) isotope values in human bone, long travel distances to low-elevation zones, variable age and sex structure in the human population and an absence of non-local lithic materials. These independent lines of evidence converge to support a model of permanent occupation of high elevations and refute logistical and seasonal use models. The results constitute the strongest empirical support to date for permanent human occupation of the Andean highlands by hunter-gatherers before 7 ka.
VersionFinal published version
SponsorsNational Science Foundation [BCS-1311626]; American Philosophical Society; University of Arizona; Stable Isotope Facility (SIF) at the University of Wyoming