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Evidence for a mid-Holocene drowning from the Atacama Desert coast of Chile

Evidence for a mid-Holocene drowning from the Atacama Desert coast of Chile
Evidence for a mid-Holocene drowning from the Atacama Desert coast of Chile

Coastal archaeological communities were exposed to numerous risks associated with living in their liminal environment. Many of the problems faced by these populations have been recorded and interpreted through their skeletal remains, but death by drowning in saltwater is not easy to recognise and as such is invariably either ignored, inferred, or discounted as a possible cause of death. Here we develop and test an enhanced microscopic marine fingerprinting methodology to determine the death by drowning of a ∼5000 year old coastal hunter-gatherer from the hyperarid coast of northern Chile. Through the application of this forensic method, we were able to detect the presence of a range of exogenous microscopic material that allows us to postulate his death because of drowning in the nearshore environment. This methodology has the potential to greatly enrich our understanding of past human-environment interactions not only in northern Chile but also around the world's coastlines. How pervasive was drowning in prehistory particularly along an active, tectonic margin exposed to palaeotsunamis and extreme ENSO-related palaeostorms?

Chile, Exogenous microscopic material, Holocene, Residual bone marrow, Saltwater drowning
0305-4403
Andrade, Pedro
ed94d3fd-6a04-48be-a337-6149ed490272
Goff, James
f51d7d6f-dfd7-4b5a-9e58-d28afad3b8a9
Pearce, Richard
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Cundy, Andrew
994fdc96-2dce-40f4-b74b-dc638286eb08
Sear, David
ccd892ab-a93d-4073-a11c-b8bca42ecfd3
Castro, Victoria
33a4535b-1a65-4c0b-8dc1-434911ab4cb8
Andrade, Pedro
ed94d3fd-6a04-48be-a337-6149ed490272
Goff, James
f51d7d6f-dfd7-4b5a-9e58-d28afad3b8a9
Pearce, Richard
7d772b25-3ad0-4909-9a96-3a1a8111bc2f
Cundy, Andrew
994fdc96-2dce-40f4-b74b-dc638286eb08
Sear, David
ccd892ab-a93d-4073-a11c-b8bca42ecfd3
Castro, Victoria
33a4535b-1a65-4c0b-8dc1-434911ab4cb8

Andrade, Pedro, Goff, James, Pearce, Richard, Cundy, Andrew, Sear, David and Castro, Victoria (2022) Evidence for a mid-Holocene drowning from the Atacama Desert coast of Chile. Journal of Archaeological Science, 140, [105565]. (doi:10.1016/j.jas.2022.105565).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Coastal archaeological communities were exposed to numerous risks associated with living in their liminal environment. Many of the problems faced by these populations have been recorded and interpreted through their skeletal remains, but death by drowning in saltwater is not easy to recognise and as such is invariably either ignored, inferred, or discounted as a possible cause of death. Here we develop and test an enhanced microscopic marine fingerprinting methodology to determine the death by drowning of a ∼5000 year old coastal hunter-gatherer from the hyperarid coast of northern Chile. Through the application of this forensic method, we were able to detect the presence of a range of exogenous microscopic material that allows us to postulate his death because of drowning in the nearshore environment. This methodology has the potential to greatly enrich our understanding of past human-environment interactions not only in northern Chile but also around the world's coastlines. How pervasive was drowning in prehistory particularly along an active, tectonic margin exposed to palaeotsunamis and extreme ENSO-related palaeostorms?

Text
Andrade et al ms JAS full accepted version - Accepted Manuscript
Restricted to Repository staff only until 8 February 2023.
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Accepted/In Press date: 2 February 2022
e-pub ahead of print date: 8 February 2022
Additional Information: Funding Information: This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors. We are grateful to Drs. Jennifer Pike (Cardiff University) and Anna Pie?kowski (Norwegian Polar Institute), Professors Sreepat Jain (Adama Science and Technology University, Ethiopia) and Reed Wicander (Central Michigan University, USA), for their assistance with the identification of several enigmatic exogenous microscopic organisms. Genevieve Cain (University of Oxford) is thanked for her original conceptual thinking that both underpinned and drove this work. GC is grateful to Robin Cain for his support at the early stages of this research. Publisher Copyright: © 2022 Elsevier Ltd Copyright: Copyright 2022 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.
Keywords: Chile, Exogenous microscopic material, Holocene, Residual bone marrow, Saltwater drowning

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 455352
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/455352
ISSN: 0305-4403
PURE UUID: 3ccd731e-70e2-4314-90dd-7a1b57624066
ORCID for Andrew Cundy: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-4368-2569
ORCID for David Sear: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-0191-6179

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 17 Mar 2022 17:37
Last modified: 23 Jul 2022 02:10

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Contributors

Author: Pedro Andrade
Author: James Goff
Author: Richard Pearce
Author: Andrew Cundy ORCID iD
Author: David Sear ORCID iD
Author: Victoria Castro

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