4000 Years of Human Impact and Vegetation Change in the Central Peruvian Andes - with Events Paralleling the Maya Record?

By Chepstow-Lusty, A. J.; Bennett, K. D. et al. | Antiquity, December 1996 | Go to article overview

4000 Years of Human Impact and Vegetation Change in the Central Peruvian Andes - with Events Paralleling the Maya Record?


Chepstow-Lusty, A. J., Bennett, K. D., Switsur, V. R., Kendall, A., Antiquity


Recording the human presence in the central Andes

Most civilizations in the world probably had their kick-start subsequent to the bizarre accident of cultivating cereals - wheat, rice, maize or millet. In the Andes, a major centre for the origin of numerous cultivated plants (Vavilov 1926; 1992) including potatoes, it may instead have been a diverse array of tubers and pseudo-cereals that led to an early population expansion. It was not until much later that maize arrived from Central America to supplement and probably to replace many of these indigenous crops.

The central Andes was the centre of the Inca empire which stretched from southern Colombia to central Chile, AD 1290-1537; the endpoint of a whole series of civilizations, chiefdoms and kingdoms which have left archaeological remains all through the Andes (Keatinge 1988; Bruhns 1994). There were no historical records until the arrival in 1532 of the Spanish who caused the collapse of the Inca civilization, including the loss of sophisticated farming systems and the introduction of Eurasian domesticated animals. Even in the historical period from 1532 to the present, reliable documentation is largely missing prior to 1850. When only archaeological remains are studied for human impact on the landscape, the record is invariably disjunct in time and space, and frequently compounded by the problem of dating events precisely.

Continuous records are needed to document these changes accurately in this area across this time-interval. Well-dated sequences obtainable from lakes within major areas of archaeological importance can provide continuous records of vegetation and climatic changes, and anthropogenic impact, such as at Marcacocha.

The Marcacocha sequence

The Patacancha Valley (Peruvian central Andes: 13 [degrees] 13[minutes]S, 72 [degrees] 12[minutes]W, altitude 3300 m), containing the infilled lake at Marcacocha, is located within the central area of the Pan-Andean civilizations (Keatinge 1988; Bruhns 1994). Reputedly once a sacred lake according to the local people, its potential palaeo-ecological significance was recognized by the Cusichaca Trust, directed by Ann Kendall; preliminary analysis established that it contained 8 m of sediments (Tim Holden pers. comm. 1989). The valley is a minor tributary of the Urubamba river, extending from the confluence at Ollantaytambo (2800 m), once a major Inca city, up to a pass at 4500 m, c. 12 km to the north [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURES 1 AND 2 OMITTED]. It is today heavily cultivated and almost completely deforested. Wooded remnants are mostly secondary, introduced types, even growing on Inca terrace systems, but fragments of native woodland occur in steep-sided ravines. The infilled lake of Marcacocha, only 40 m in diameter and located 100 m east of the Patacancha river, remains wet in the dry season and it probably formed as a nivation hollow at the end of the last Ice Age.

Previous investigations of the Holocene record of the central Andes, providing a regional scheme for vegetational change, unfortunately have mostly come from above the forest limit at altitudes greater than 4000 m, in Peru at Lagunas Junin, Tuctua, Pomacocha, Jeronimo (Hansen et al. 1984; Hansen et al. 1994), and in Bolivia (Graf 1981). The tree-line at this altitude is c. 3900 m (Ellenberg 1979), but at Marcacocha the forest has been largely replaced by scrubland communities.

Only Laguna Paca (Hansen et al. 1994) at 3600 m altitude offers a broad, but valuable comparison with Marcacocha (altitude 3300 m). Laguna Paca lies near the town of Jauja, close to the archaeological site of Pancan in the valley of the Mantaro River in the province of Junin, with cultivation up to the lake-shore. The Mantaro River valley and Junin plain have been a focal area for studies investigating the early domestication of plants and have provided abundant ethnobotanical remains (e.g. Pearsall 1980; 1988; Hastorf 1988). Laguna Paca only has a single calibrated radiocarbon date at the base of the sequence at 5303[+ or -]90 BP, from which all the other dates have been interpolated. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

4000 Years of Human Impact and Vegetation Change in the Central Peruvian Andes - with Events Paralleling the Maya Record?
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.