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High Elevation Foraging Societies

  • Mark S. Aldenderfer

Humans have lived in the high Andes for at least 10,000 years, and for most of that time, they were hunting and gathering people. That these adaptations were successful is obvious: Wari, Tiwanaku, and Inca were among the most powerful of the archaic states to arise in the Andes and each had its origin in a high elevation basin. These polities were ultimately based upon the achievements of their distant ancestors, who learned to cope with the rigors of life at high elevation, eventually domesticated plants and animals, and created early forms of social inequality that laid the foundations for persistent forms of leadership and hierarchy. In this chapter I will outline what we know of these early foraging people, and situate them within their ecological, biological, and chronological contexts. The time frame to be considered ranges from approximately 11,000 BC to 1800 BC, and is commonly known as the Archaic or Preceramic Period [Note 1]. Specific questions to be addressed include the following: the timing of and processes by which the high Andes were permanently occupied, the adaptive radiation of foragers after permanent settlement had been achieved, the nature of social formations and their interactions, subsistence change through time and the emergence of different forms of low-level food production, and finally, persistent leadership and the origins of social inequality.

Keywords

High Elevation Residential Mobility Resource Patch Central Place Forage Gold Bead 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mark S. Aldenderfer
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of ArizonaTucsonUSA

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