Grant TypeDissertation Fieldwork Grant
Institutional AffiliationParis 10-Nanterre, U. of
Grant numberGr. 9830
Approve DateApril 30, 2019
Project TitleLoyola, Rodrigo (Paris 10-Nanterre, U. of) "Hunter-gatherer social networks and lithic procurement during the early peopling of the Atacama Desert"
RODRIGO LOYOLA, then a graduate student at University of Paris 10-Nanterre, Nanterre, France, received a grant in April 2019 to aid research on “Hunter-Gatherer Social Networks and Lithic Procurement during the Early Peopling of the Atacama Desert,” supervised by Dr. Jacques Pelegrin. This project studies the interaction networks of the pre-Columbian societies of the Atacama Desert (22-23ºS), from the early peopling (12,500 cal BP) to the late Formative period (1500 cal BP) through the circulation of obsidian artifacts. Through X-ray fluorescence analysis and neutron activation, the sources of origin of 590 obsidian samples recovered from archaeological excavations and museum collections were determined. Together with complementary evidence, the results point to the existence of extensive interaction networks that connected the Pacific coast, the Atacama Desert, the Andes highlands, and northwestern Argentina on the other side of the Andes Mountain. Contrary to the current view, this study concludes that early pre-Columbian societies managed to maintain high levels of organization on wide spatial scales from early periods. Social cohesion was assured thanks to different mechanisms such as periodic aggregations, ritual feasts and collective hunts between trans-egalitarian groups. These results allow researchers to discuss the established idea of an amplification of the interaction networks due to the establishment of agro-pastoral life and caravan traffic in later periods. Results indicate that broad and flexible networks were a key strategy that ensured human settlement in the arid Atacama Desert.