Archaeology of “Empty Spaces” in the Southern Andes

Category: Time:
Friday, February 22, 2013 - 16:00 to 17:30
Room: Speaker:
Axel E. Nielsen
Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas, Argentina
Ron Towner

The highlands of SW Bolivia, NW Argentina, and N Chile are the most arid part of the Andes. In this area, opportunities for human settlement concentrate in deep river valleys, piedmont oases, and to the lowest basins of the Altiplano (highplateau). This environmental structure has resulted in a long-term pattern of discontinuous settlement, with relatively small populations concentrated in favorable areas, separated by vast expanses of unpopulated mountain heights and deserts. Driven initially by questions concerning long-distance caravan trade, archaeological research in these seemingly “empty spaces” has demonstrated that they can provide important information about social processes at a regional scale. This lecture presents some of the results of 20 years of research in these areas focusing on long distance trade, logistical mobility, and cultural landscapes.