13,000 years of sociocultural plant use in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile
AuthorUgalde, Paula C.
Gayo, Eugenia M.
Santoro, Calogero M.
AffiliationUniv Arizona, Sch Anthropol
MetadataShow full item record
CitationUgalde, P.C., McRostie, V., Gayo, E.M. et al. 13,000 years of sociocultural plant use in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile. Veget Hist Archaeobot (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00334-020-00783-1
Rights© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2020
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AbstractThroughout Earth's most extreme environments, such as the Kalahari Desert or the Arctic, hunter-gatherers found ingenious ways to obtain proteins and sugars provided by plants for dietary requirements. In the hyperarid Atacama Desert, wild plant resources are scarce and unevenly distributed due to limited water availability. This study brings together all available archaeobotanical evidence gathered in the Atacama Desert from the Late Pleistocene (ca. 13,000 cal bp) until the Inka epoch (ca. 450 cal bp) to help us comprehend when these populations acquired and managed useful plants from the coastal zone, Intermediate Depression, High Andes, as well as tropical and subtropical ecosystems. Widespread introduction of farming crops, water control techniques and cultivation of diverse plants by 3,000 cal bp ended not only a chronic food shortage, but also led to the establishment of a set of staple foods for the Atacama Desert dwellers, a legacy that remains visible today. By contrasting these trends with major sociocultural changes, together with palaeodemographic and climatic fluctuations, we note that humans adapted to, and transformed this hyperarid landscape and oscillating climate, with plants being a key factor in their success. This long-term process, which we term the "Green Revolution", coincided with an exponential increase in the number of social groups inhabiting the Atacama Desert during the Late Holocene.
Note12 month embargo; published online: 6 May 2020
VersionFinal accepted manuscript