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Re-evaluating the resource potential of lomas fog oasis environments for Preceramic hunter–gatherers under past ENSO modes on the south coast of Peru

Re-evaluating the resource potential of lomas fog oasis environments for Preceramic hunter–gatherers under past ENSO modes on the south coast of Peru
Re-evaluating the resource potential of lomas fog oasis environments for Preceramic hunter–gatherers under past ENSO modes on the south coast of Peru
Lomas – ephemeral seasonal oases sustained by ocean fogs – were critical to ancient human ecology on the desert Pacific coast of Peru: one of humanity's few independent hearths of agriculture and “pristine” civilisation. The role of climate change since the Late Pleistocene in determining productivity and extent of past lomas ecosystems has been much debated.

Here we reassess the resource potential of the poorly studied lomas of the south coast of Peru during the long Middle Pre-ceramic period (c. 8000–4500 BP): a period critical in the transition to agriculture, the onset of modern El Niño Southern Oscillation (‘ENSO’) conditions, and eustatic sea-level rise and stabilisation and beach progradation.

Our method combines vegetation survey and herbarium collection with archaeological survey and excavation to make inferences about both Preceramic hunter–gatherer ecology and the changed palaeoenvironments in which it took place. Our analysis of newly discovered archaeological sites – and their resource context – show how lomas formations defined human ecology until the end of the Middle Preceramic Period, thereby corroborating recent reconstructions of ENSO history based on other data.

Together, these suggest that a five millennia period of significantly colder seas on the south coast induced conditions of abundance and seasonal predictability in lomas and maritime ecosystems, that enabled Middle Preceramic hunter–gatherers to reduce mobility by settling in strategic locations at the confluence of multiple eco-zones at the river estuaries. Here the foundations of agriculture lay in a Broad Spectrum Revolution that unfolded, not through population pressure in deteriorating environments, but rather as an outcome of resource abundance
lomas palaeoenvironments, holocene, enso, hunter–gatherers, origins of agriculture, south coast Peru
0277-3791
196-215
Beresford-Jones, David
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Pullen, Alexander
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Whaley, Oliver
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Moat, Justin
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Chauca, George
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Cadwallader, Lauren
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Arce, Susana
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Orellana, Alfonso
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Alarcon, Carmella
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Gorriti, Manual
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Maita, Patricia
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Sturt, Fraser
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Dupeyron, Agathe
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Huaman, Oliver
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Lane, Kevin
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French, Charles
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Beresford-Jones, David
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Pullen, Alexander
3e67506d-2601-40d2-bc2b-4f6d619a85ad
Whaley, Oliver
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Moat, Justin
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Chauca, George
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Cadwallader, Lauren
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Arce, Susana
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Orellana, Alfonso
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Alarcon, Carmella
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Gorriti, Manual
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Maita, Patricia
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Sturt, Fraser
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Dupeyron, Agathe
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Huaman, Oliver
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Lane, Kevin
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French, Charles
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Beresford-Jones, David, Pullen, Alexander, Whaley, Oliver, Moat, Justin, Chauca, George, Cadwallader, Lauren, Arce, Susana, Orellana, Alfonso, Alarcon, Carmella, Gorriti, Manual, Maita, Patricia, Sturt, Fraser, Dupeyron, Agathe, Huaman, Oliver, Lane, Kevin and French, Charles (2015) Re-evaluating the resource potential of lomas fog oasis environments for Preceramic hunter–gatherers under past ENSO modes on the south coast of Peru. Quaternary Science Reviews, 129, 196-215. (doi:10.1016/j.quascirev.2015.10.025).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Lomas – ephemeral seasonal oases sustained by ocean fogs – were critical to ancient human ecology on the desert Pacific coast of Peru: one of humanity's few independent hearths of agriculture and “pristine” civilisation. The role of climate change since the Late Pleistocene in determining productivity and extent of past lomas ecosystems has been much debated.

Here we reassess the resource potential of the poorly studied lomas of the south coast of Peru during the long Middle Pre-ceramic period (c. 8000–4500 BP): a period critical in the transition to agriculture, the onset of modern El Niño Southern Oscillation (‘ENSO’) conditions, and eustatic sea-level rise and stabilisation and beach progradation.

Our method combines vegetation survey and herbarium collection with archaeological survey and excavation to make inferences about both Preceramic hunter–gatherer ecology and the changed palaeoenvironments in which it took place. Our analysis of newly discovered archaeological sites – and their resource context – show how lomas formations defined human ecology until the end of the Middle Preceramic Period, thereby corroborating recent reconstructions of ENSO history based on other data.

Together, these suggest that a five millennia period of significantly colder seas on the south coast induced conditions of abundance and seasonal predictability in lomas and maritime ecosystems, that enabled Middle Preceramic hunter–gatherers to reduce mobility by settling in strategic locations at the confluence of multiple eco-zones at the river estuaries. Here the foundations of agriculture lay in a Broad Spectrum Revolution that unfolded, not through population pressure in deteriorating environments, but rather as an outcome of resource abundance

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Accepted/In Press date: 14 October 2015
Published date: October 2015
Keywords: lomas palaeoenvironments, holocene, enso, hunter–gatherers, origins of agriculture, south coast Peru
Organisations: Archaeology

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 383450
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/383450
ISSN: 0277-3791
PURE UUID: a8dfbcee-e23e-43ef-bc3a-2c65cc1e7823

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Date deposited: 13 Nov 2015 12:35
Last modified: 19 Jul 2019 20:28

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Contributors

Author: David Beresford-Jones
Author: Alexander Pullen
Author: Oliver Whaley
Author: Justin Moat
Author: George Chauca
Author: Lauren Cadwallader
Author: Susana Arce
Author: Alfonso Orellana
Author: Carmella Alarcon
Author: Manual Gorriti
Author: Patricia Maita
Author: Fraser Sturt
Author: Agathe Dupeyron
Author: Oliver Huaman
Author: Kevin Lane
Author: Charles French

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