Retention of hunter-gatherer economies among maritime foragers from Caleta Vitor, northern Chile, during the late Holocene: Evidence from stable carbon and nitrogen isotopic analysis of skeletal remains

Amy Roberts, Frank Pate, Bianca Petruzzelli, Chris Carter, Michael Westaway, Calogero Santoro, Jaime Swift, Todd Maddern, Geraldine Jacobsen, Fiona Bertuch, Francisco Rothhammer

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    29 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    On the basis of stable carbon and nitrogen isotope analysis of human remains, this paper provides evidence for the retention of hunter-gatherer economies among coastal inhabitants in northern Chile during the late Holocene - at the same time that inland populations were adopting agricultural economies. Coastal diets from the Caleta Vitor region of the Atacama Desert were dominated by marine-based foods, predominantly from upper trophic levels. The focus on reliable marine food resources is interpreted as a risk minimisation strategy in this marginal arid environment. Although these coastal hunter-gatherers adopted other goods and traditions from agricultural populations, their participation in this larger interregional exchange network did not affect their basic subsistence economies. Associated new radiocarbon dates from the site are also discussed. Skeletal remains and artefacts associated with the Caleta Vitor shell middens generally originate from sites with dates ranging from c. 9000-476 BP. However, the human remains that are the subject of this research cover the time period c. 4000-476 BP.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)2360-2372
    Number of pages13
    JournalJournal of Archaeological Science
    Volume40
    Issue number5
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - May 2013

    Keywords

    • Atacama
    • Caleta Vitor
    • Chile
    • Diet
    • Human remains
    • Isotope analysis
    • Marine economy

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