Coastal paleolandscapes of far southern Peru: Implications for Late Pleistocene human settlement

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The Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology


Archaeological evidence indicates that initial coastal settlement of western South America took place near the end of the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) when sea level was between 40 and 100 m lower than today. Beginning around 15,000 cal BP, and for roughly the next 8,000 years, sea levels rose, eventually covering these formerly exposed and potentially human-occupied landscapes. We use bathymetric data and the reconstructed global mean sea level curve from the Last Glacial Maximum to the Holocene to describe the paleolandscapes associated with the Late Pleistocene and Early Holocene coastal occupations at five sites located in far southern Peru. We constructed cross-sections perpendicular to the modern shoreline at the various locales to determine the approximate extent of the exposed land surface and the proximity of the communities at the sites of Quebrada de los Burros, Quebrada Tacahuay, the Ring Site, Kilometer 4 (K4), and Quebrada Miraflores to the ocean and various littoral habitats. Our analysis identifies previously undocumented littoral habitats consisting of large, shallow-water bays, significant rocky headlands, and beach habitats. We propose several methods of future research to identify potentially submerged sites and the marine paleolandscape of the study region. Knowing the paleolandscapes contributes to refining Pacific coast migration and settlement models for South America.



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