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The Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology

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Variations in Human Adaptations During the

Terminal Pleistocene and Early Holocene at
Quebrada Jaguay (QJ-280) and the Ring Site,
Southern Perú

Elizabeth J. Reitz, Heather E. McInnis, Daniel H. Sandweiss & Susan D.


To cite this article: Elizabeth J. Reitz, Heather E. McInnis, Daniel H. Sandweiss & Susan D.
deFrance (2016): Variations in Human Adaptations During the Terminal Pleistocene and Early
Holocene at Quebrada Jaguay (QJ-280) and the Ring Site, Southern Perú, The Journal of Island
and Coastal Archaeology, DOI: 10.1080/15564894.2016.1172381

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Download by: [Jordan Univ. of Science & Tech] Date: 30 June 2016, At: 13:55
The Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology, 00:1–31, 2016
Copyright © 2016 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC
ISSN: 1556-4894 print / 1556-1828 online
DOI: 10.1080/15564894.2016.1172381

Variations in Human Adaptations During

the Terminal Pleistocene and Early
Holocene at Quebrada Jaguay (QJ-280)
and the Ring Site, Southern Perú
Elizabeth J. Reitz,1 Heather E. McInnis,2 Daniel H. Sandweiss,3
and Susan D. deFrance4
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Georgia Museum of Natural History, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia,
Research Competitiveness Program, Center for Science, Policy and Society
Programs, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS),
Washington, DC, USA
Department of Anthropology and Climate Change Institute, University of
Maine, Orono, Maine, USA
Department of Anthropology, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, USA


Vertebrate remains from two stratified sites, the Quebrada Jaguay site
(QJ-280) and the Ring Site, reveal details about economic strategies
practiced between 13,145 and 7500 cal yr BP on the southern coast of
Perú. The near absence of terrestrial resources, a broad continuity in
economic activities focused on marine resources, and flexibility within
the overall strategy, are among the most interesting aspects of these data.
Although they reflect economic and social decisions driven, in part,
by fluctuations in environmental conditions, they demonstrate that
people were sophisticated strategists actively responding to dynamic
environmental conditions.

Keywords fishing technology, Late Pleistocene/Early Holocene fishing strategies, South-

ern Peruvian coast, trophic levels, vertebrate diversity

INTRODUCTION Civilization Hypothesis, proposing that the

economic foundation of a civilization need
In 1975, Michael Moseley (1975) pub- not be agricultural; a complex social orga-
lished the Maritime Foundations of Andean nization could be supported with marine

Received 14 December 2015; accepted 24 March 2016.

Address correspondence to Elizabeth J. Reitz, Georgia Museum of Natural History, 101 Cedar Street,
University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602-1882, USA. E-mail:

Elizabeth J. Reitz et al.

resources as the economic base. The de- at two early sites on the southern Peruvian
bate initially focused on the potential of ma- coast spanning the Terminal Pleistocene to
rine resources to support large, sedentary mid-Holocene period (Reitz et al. 2015).
populations with complex social organiza- The sites of Quebrada Jaguay (QJ-280;
tions and monumental architecture such as full span of dated occupation: 13,480–8210
those associated with the late Preceramic site cal yr BP) and the Ring Site (Unit C-1; full
of El Paraı́so (aka Chuquitanta; Quilter and span of dated occupation: 11,680–5660 cal
Stocker 1983). Subsequent work shows that yr BP) offer insight into changes in coastal
the hypothesis applies to other coastal re- resource use over an extended period of
gions with high biological diversity. Most im- time by people who broadly shared access
portantly, this work demonstrates that the to similar terrestrial and marine habitats and
origins of Andean coastal traditions have organisms (Figure 1; Table 1). Although the
roots in the Terminal Pleistocene, an epoch sites differed in proximity to littoral and lo-
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coincident with the Younger Dryas, dating cal marine habitats, both were located in the
to ca. 13,000–14,000 cal yr BP (Sandweiss Central Andean hyperarid desert coast, were
2009). The Early Holocene dates to ca. distant from permanent streams, and offered
11,400–8000 cal yr BP. access to similar marine vertebrates associ-
Supported by several different strate- ated with cold upwelling currents when they
gies, early coastal economies at sites on the were occupied (supplemental document 1,
northern and central coasts of Perú were available online). Due to shoreline changes
heterogeneous, flexible, and targeted re- during the study period, people at QJ-280 and
sponses to dynamic environmental condi- the Ring Site probably did not have access
tions (Sandweiss 2014). In the Late Pleis- to exactly the same habitats and resources,
tocene (ca. 14,000 cal BP), strategies in- however. In this paper, we document the
cluded a combination of littoral and terres- near absence of terrestrial resources in the
trial hunting and gathering (Huaca Prieta; strategies practiced at both sites and the ex-
Dillehay et al. 2012). Paiján sites dating to the tent to which coastal resources were funda-
Terminal Pleistocene to Early Holocene tran- mental to the sites’ economies during these
sition (ca. 11,400 cal yr BP) contain evidence early millennia, as well as the continuity and
that both terrestrial and marine resources change that occurred in economic strate-
were used (Chauchat et al. 1992; Maggard gies at these two sites over time. These
2011; Reitz 2001). Evidence from Siches in- data will enable further regional-scale assess-
dicates that people combined fishing and ment of the culture-climate dynamic across
littoral gathering with cucurbit cultivation the Terminal Pleistocene/Early Holocene
(Sandweiss 2014). A change in fishing strate- boundary as well as the timing and na-
gies occurred after ca. 5800 cal BP, during ture of early maritime adaptations (Erlandson
the Middle to Late Holocene transition (Re- and Fitzpatrick 2006; Fitzpatrick et al.
itz 2001, 2004b; Reitz and Sandweiss 2001; 2015).
Sandweiss et al. 2007). This mid-Holocene
change is expressed on the Peruvian north
coast as a shift from a suite of animals as-
sociated with warm-temperate waters to a SITE DESCRIPTIONS AND FIELD
cool-temperate-water group of animals and a METHODS
decline in the mean trophic level of the catch
(Andrus et al. 2002; Reitz 2001, 2004b). On QJ-280 and the Ring Site are vertically and
the central coast, at Paloma, the change is ex- horizontally stratified Terminal Pleistocene
pressed as a decline in cool-temperate-water and Holocene sites located ca. 120 km apart
fishes associated with upwelling, specifically on the southern coast of Perú. We also refer
anchovies (Engraulidae), and, eventually, an occasionally to the only other known early
increase in the mean trophic level of the southern coastal sites: Quebrada Tacahuay
catch (Reitz 1988, 2003). Here, we explore (12,850–12,130 cal yr BP; deFrance 2005,
the variability and flexibility of economies 2008, 2009; Keefer et al. 1998) and Quebrada

2 VOLUME 00 • ISSUE 00 • 2016

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Table 1. Summary of site contexts, time periods, and faunal assemblage NISP and MNI.a

Site, cal yr Deposit, cal yr Screen

Site BP BP NISP MNI size

Quebrada Jaguay (QJ-280) 13,482–8206

Sector I (1996)
Early Holocene (EHI and EHII) 11,610–8210 2,480 56 1.7 mm
Sector II (1999)
Terminal Pleistocene post-induration (Levels 1/2) 11,710–10,250 984 149 1.7 mm
Sector II (1999)
Terminal Pleistocene pre-induration/induration 13,150–11,190 352 104 1.7 mm
(Levels 2b, 2c)
Sectors I, II, IV (1996)
Terminal Pleistocene 13,480–11,200 5,454 361 1.7 mm
Ring Site (C-1) 11,677–5660 11,680–7750 13,035 436 6.35 mm
Levels 3b–5
Middle Holocene ca. 8200–7500 320 25 6.35 mm
Levels 6–12
Early Holocene ca. 9400–8200 12,321 393 6.35 mm
Levels 13–14
Terminal Pleistocene/Holocene boundary ca. 11,700–9400 394 18 6.35 mm

The designations “Jaguay-96” and “Jaguay-99” distinguish between the 1996 and 1999 excavation seasons at Jaguay. Jaguay-96 data are from
McInnis (1999) and Sandweiss et al. (1998); Jaguay-99 dates are from Jones (2009). Ring Site dates are from Sandweiss et al. (1989; see Sandweiss
[2003]) and vertebrate data are from this paper. Calibrations run with Calib 5.0 (Hughen et al. 2004; McCormac et al. 2004; Reimer et al. 2004; Stuiver
and Reimer 1993). The dates listed in the cal yr BP column are those for the site as a whole. The deposit dates are for the specific contexts of the
vertebrate remains discussed in this paper. All of the materials from Jaguay-99 are late Terminal Pleistocene (TP) or Early Holocene (EH). The distinction
between EHI and EHII is based on stratigraphic sequence. A distinction is drawn between the Terminal Pleistocene pre-induration/induration levels,
which were capped by the induration layer, and the subsequent Early Holocene post-induration levels. At the Ring Site, Levels 13–14 are interpreted as
dating to the Terminal Pleistocene/Early Holocene boundary and the other levels are Holocene in age. Key to abbreviations: NISP: number of identified
specimens; MNI: minimum number of individuals. MNI was estimated only for fish otoliths for the Jaguay-96 collection.

Elizabeth J. Reitz et al.
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Figure 1. Map of the study area. Stars represent modern cities and dots represent archaeological

de los Burros (Level 3; 7735–7195 cal yr BP; four sites are included in a regional review of
Lavallée et al. 2011). Tacahuay is a Terminal vertebrate remains (Reitz et al. 2015).
Pleistocene site ca. 23 km south of the Ring We refer broadly to occupational com-
Site and Burros is an Early/Middle Holocene ponents at these sites in terms of the Pleis-
site 43 km south of the Ring Site. Level 3 from tocene and Holocene epochs for the sake
Burros is interpreted as Middle Holocene. All of convenience, recognizing that local varia-

4 VOLUME 00 • ISSUE 00 • 2016

Variations in Human Adaptations in Southern Perú

tions are common and subject to diverse in- Holocene. In some cases, materials from the
terpretations, especially when seen through Holocene occupation in Sector I can be sub-
the lens of archaeological stratigraphy. Broad divided into Early Holocene I (EHI; 11,230–
continuity in economic activities focused on 9744 cal BP; 3 dates) and II (EHII; 9018–8161
marine resources, accompanied by changes cal BP; 6 dates) components by aggregating
representing flexibility within the overall levels defined by natural stratigraphy, sug-
strategy, are among the most interesting as- gesting an occupational hiatus between EHI
pects of our data. and EHII (Sandweiss 2009). Terminal Pleis-
This study focuses on vertebrates, tocene deposits in Sector I are midden with
though crustaceans, molluscs, and echino- no direct evidence of a house or hearth. Early
derms are present in both the QJ-280 and Holocene deposits in Sector I are associated
Ring Site collections and are briefly discussed with domestic structures and activities.
below. Invertebrates from QJ-280 have not Additional excavations were conducted
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been formally reported. Invertebrates from in Sector II in 1999, recovering vertebrate

Ring Site Unit D are reported elsewhere remains from Units 2–8. The Jaguay-99 ma-
(Sandweiss et al. 1989). terials were deposited during the Terminal
Pleistocene and earliest Holocene. Terminal
Quebrada Jaguay (QJ-280) Pleistocene deposits excavated in 1999 are
separated into earlier and later deposits by
The site of Quebrada Jaguay (hence- a thin, indurated layer. This layer is only
forth QJ-280) is at roughly 40 masl on an present within the site and is likely anthro-
alluvial terrace of a seasonal stream north pogenic (Andrus et al. 2000). The induration
of Camaná, Perú. The site is approximately sediments were cemented by halite, proba-
2 km from the present shoreline (McInnis bly originating from seawater brought to the
1999:10; Sandweiss et al. 1998). Estimating site, perhaps to secure buried posts or as a by-
the distance to the active shoreline when product of activities such as salt-drying food-
the site was occupied is problematic due stuffs. Levels 1/2 (a combination of Level 1
to current and former shoreline erosion. At and the uppermost portion of Level 2 desig-
the end of the Pleistocene, when sea level nated before the induration layer was iden-
was ca. 60–70 m below present levels, the tified) are above the induration level. The
site likely was ca. 6–7 km from the shore induration level itself was designated Level
(Sandweiss et al. 1998). Today, the beach 2b once it was recognized in the field. It
closest to the site is sandy and a rocky consists of cemented midden and is inter-
promontory supports a sea mammal rookery preted as the active living floor when the
(Reserva Nacional Punta Chira) ca. 7 km induration layer formed. Level 2c is below
from QJ-280. Sandweiss conducted excava- the induration level. In the following discus-
tions at QJ-280 in 1996 and 1999 (McInnis sion, the Jaguay-99 Levels 1/2 are referred
1999; Sandweiss 2014; Sandweiss et al. to as “post-induration” or “QJ-post” and Lev-
1998). The designations “Jaguay-96” and els 2b and 2c are combined into a “pre-
“Jaguay-99” distinguish between these two induration/induration” component or “QJ-
excavation seasons. If no modifier is used, pre.” Terminal Pleistocene deposits in Sec-
the entire QJ-280 assemblage is indicated. tor II are associated with domestic structures
During the 1996 season, Terminal Pleis- and activities.
tocene vertebrate remains were recovered QJ-280 contains evidence for affiliations
from Sectors I, II, and IV, and Early Holocene with more distant locations, use of mol-
materials were recovered from Sector I luscs and plants, and structures (Sandweiss
(McInnis 1999:12, 61). Natural stratigraphy 2009, 2014; Sandweiss et al. 1998). Obsid-
defined the levels and features in each ian at the site indicates that residents had
excavation unit within each sector (e.g., contact with the Andean highlands 130–
Figure 2). QJ-280 may have been abandoned 150 km to the east (Rademaker et al. 2013,
for 1–2 millennia after the Terminal Pleis- 2014). Jaguay-96 molluscs are dominated by
tocene and reoccupied briefly during the wedge clams (Mesodesma donacium; 99.5%


Elizabeth J. Reitz et al.
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Figure 2. Quebrada Jaguay (QJ-280) West Profile of Sector 1, Units 2B, 2D, and 3B.

by weight); confirming the visual impres- the mid-Holocene (Sandweiss et al. 1989). In
sion that this was the dominant mollusc at recent times, the site was located on a marine
the site (McInnis 1999:57; Sandweiss et al. terrace 0.75 km inland. At the end of the Pleis-
1998:1831). Wedge clams typically are found tocene, when sea level was lower, the site
in the sandy subtidal zone. Only two species may have been ca. 5 km from the coast. Sea-
of rock-dwelling molluscs were recovered level rise brought the shoreline within ca.
(Concholepas concholepas, Choromytilus 1 km of the site by the time the site was aban-
chorus) and both are very rare in the QJ-280 doned. Late in the occupation, this deeply
assemblage. Plant remains are poorly pre- stratified shell midden was topped by shells
served, but Terminal Pleistocene contexts to form a ring approximately 26 m in diame-
contain prickly pear (Opuntia) and horse- ter and at least 2.5 m high, with some areas
tail (Equisetum; Sandweiss 2009; Sandweiss possibly as high as 8 m. A marine terrace,
et al. 1998). Early Holocene contexts con- Pampa del Palo, lies between the site and the
tain bottle gourds (Lagenaria siceraria) and shore. The shoreline is a sandy beach. Today,
fragments of small, knotted cordage suitable a major rocky peninsula with bird and marine
for use in netting. aDNA from the gourd rinds mammal rookeries, Punta Coles, lies within
show they were domesticated (Erickson et al. ca. 10 km of the Ring Site. At this time there
2005). This suggests either local plant culti- is no evidence for farming or products of
vation or trade. farming at the site. No un-carbonized plant
remains were recovered and microbotani-
The Ring Site cal remains have not been studied. No living
floors, post molds, or other domestic features
The Ring Site was occupied from the were encountered. Lithic artifacts are made
Pleistocene/Holocene boundary through from local materials and are similar in form

6 VOLUME 00 • ISSUE 00 • 2016

Variations in Human Adaptations in Southern Perú

of primarily purple mussels (Choromytilus

chorus) and wedge clams, along with other
bivalves, gastropods, crustaceans, and sea
urchins (Echinodermata; Sandweiss et al.
1989:63–67). Molluscs were common but
less dense in Levels 8 through 10. Verte-
brate remains were most dense in Levels 6–
8, but common almost to the bottom of the
deposit. Levels 12 and 14 each consisted of
ca. 2–3 cm of carbon and burned vertebrate
remains. Levels 11, 13, and 15 were sandy
with some vertebrate and mollusc remains.
Molluscs were primarily land snails (Scutalus
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Molluscs recovered from Unit C-1 were
not studied; but molluscs from a column sam-
ple in a corner of Unit C-1 (Unit D) were stud-
ied (Sandweiss et al. 1989:63). Strata in Unit D
correspond with those in Unit C-1. Molluscs
from Unit D are dominated by purple mus-
sels, wedge clams, and false abalones (Conc-
holepas concholepas). These three molluscs
constitute 84% of the bivalve and gastropod
weight and 61% of the Minimum Number of
Individuals (MNI) in Unit D. Rock- and sand-
dwelling molluscs are almost equally repre-
sented with no clear stratigraphic trend. It
is likely that the molluscs in Unit C-1 were
similar to those of Unit D. The invertebrate
collections from Units C-1 and D are not di-
rectly comparable, however, because only
vertebrates were studied from Unit C-1 and
only molluscs and other invertebrates were
studied from Unit D.
The Ring Site tool assemblage includes
Figure 3. Ring Site Profile, Unit C-1, facing
shell and bone artifacts, unifacial tools, cob-
north wall. ble cortexes, and lithic debris, but no lithic
projectile points (Sandweiss et al. 1989).
Shell and bone artifacts suggest that nets,
to those recovered from Quebrada Tacahuay hooks/gorges, and harpoons were used at
(Figure 1; deFrance 2005, 2008, 2009; Keefer the site. Some shells had holes caused
et al. 1998; Sandweiss et al. 1989). The Ring by percussion and might have served as
Site was used as a municipal trash dump in net weights. Some bone and shell ob-
the late 1900s and is now destroyed. jects are similar to barbs from compound
Vertebrate remains reported here were hooks/gorges found in Early Holocene shell
excavated in 1985 from Unit C-1. This m2 middens on the north coast of Chile (Bird
unit was excavated in 15 natural levels to a 1943). A single-barb harpoon point was
depth of 230 cm into sterile (Figure 3). Levels recovered.
1 through 7 contained a high density of mol- Vertebrates from Levels 3b–14 are
luscs and echinoderms. Level 3b contained merged into four analytical groups (Levels
very small amounts of shell, but Levels 4–6 3b–6, Level 7, Level 8, and Levels 9–14).
were defined in the field by large quantities The individual levels between 3b–6 and 9–


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Table 2. Characteristics of some vertebrate taxa represented by MNI.a

QJ-96 QJ-96 QJ-99 QJ-99 Ring Ring Ring Ring Body Capture Water
Taxa TL TP Holocene pre post L9–14 L8 L7 L3b–6 size method conditions

Lontra felina — — — — — — X X — Large I Cool

(marine otter)
Pinnipedia (seals, 3.5 — — — — X X X X Large I Mixed
sea lions)
Birds — — — — X X X X X Large I See text
Engraulidae 2.2 — — — X — — — — Small M Cool
Clupeidae 2.6 — — — — — — — X Small M Cool
Ariidae (sea 3.2 X — — X — — — X Lg or M Warm
catfishes) Unc
Mugil spp. 2.0 — X — — — — — — Lg or M Warm
(mullets) Unc
Mugiloides 3.5 — — — — X X X — Lg or I Cool
chilensis (rollizo) Unc
Serranidae (sea 3.5 X — — — X X — X Lg or I Mixed
basses) Unc
cf. Epinephelus 3.8 — — — — X — — — Lg or I Warm
spp. (groupers) Unc
Paralabrax 3.5 X — — — X X X X Lg or I Cool
humeralis (rock Unc
sea bass)
Carangidae (jacks) 3.3 — — — X — — — X Lg or I Mixed
Caranx spp. (jacks) 4.0 — — — — X — X — Lg or I Warm
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Trachinotus 3.3 — — — — — — — X Lg or I Mixed

paitensis Unc
Trachurus 3.3 — — — — — X X X Lg or I Cool
murphyi (jurel) Unc
Haemulidae 3.5 — — — — — — — X Lg or I Mixed
(grunts) Unc
Anisotremus 3.5 X — — — X X X — Lg or I Cool
scapularis Unc
Isacia conceptionis 3.5 — — — — — — X — Lg or I Cool
(cabinza) Unc
Sciaenidae (drums) — X X — — — — — — Unc Unc Mixed
cf. Bairdiella spp. 3.3 — — — — — — — X Small M Warm
Cilus (Sciaena) 3.5 X X X X X X X X Lg or I Cool
gilberti (corvina) Unc
Cynoscion spp. 3.4 — — X — X X X X Lg or I Mixed
(seatrouts) Unc
Paralonchurus 3.4 — — — X — — — — Lg or I Cool
peruanus Unc
Sciaena spp. 3.5 — — — — — X — — Lg or I Cool
(drums) Unc
Sciaena deliciosa 3.5 X X X X X X X X Small M Cool
(Continued on next page)

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Table 2. (Continued)

QJ-96 QJ-96 QJ-99 QJ-99 Ring Ring Ring Ring Body Capture Water
Taxa TL TP Holocene pre post L9–14 L8 L7 L3b–6 size method conditions

Cheilodactylus 3.5 — — — — X X X X Small M Cool

Labridae (wrasses) 3.6 — — — — X X — X Lg or I Cool
Labrisomus 3.6 — — — — X — X X Lg or I Cool
philippi Unc
(Chalapo clinid)
Scombridae 3.2 — — — — X X X X Lg or I Cool
(mackerels) Unc
Sarda spp. 3.4 — — — — X — — X Lg or I Cool
(bonitos) Unc
Scomberomorus 3.9 — — — — X — X X Lg or I Cool
spp. (caballas) Unc
Paralichthys spp. 3.4 — — — — X — X X Lg or I Mixed
(lenguados) Unc
Key to abbreviations: TL: mean trophic level from Froese and Pauly (1998); Lg or Unc: large or unclassified; I: individual capture; M: mass capture;
“X” indicates that MNI was estimated for that taxon in the analytical group indicated. Fish ubiquity is the number of components in which each fish
taxon is found divided by the total number of analytical groups (n = 8). Jaguay-96 (QJ-96) data are the Terminal Pleistocene and Holocene data
recovered during the 1996 excavation (McInnis 1999). Jaguay-99 is divided into pre-induration/induration levels (QJ-pre) and post-induration levels
(QJ-post). The Ring Site levels are subdivided into four groups, with Levels 9–14 the oldest and Levels 3b–6 the most recent. Body size and capture
methods are defined in the text. For more information see Reitz et al. (2015) and Reitz and Sandweiss (2001).
Variations in Human Adaptations in Southern Perú

14 are lumped because the number of spec- Contisuyo in Moquegua, Perú, but these sam-
imens in each level is small compared to ples have not been studied. Although we
the number of specimens in Levels 7 and would prefer to report on materials recov-
8. These groups are defined by the strati- ered using the same fine-gauged mesh, we
graphic sequence revealed in the unit’s pro- note that anchovies and herrings contribute
file. Although the analytical groups can be less than 1% of the individuals in the Jaguay-
roughly associated with radiometric dates, 99 assemblage, which was recovered with a
individual levels were not specifically dated; fine-gauged mesh.
however, these levels can be linked strati- These materials have been subjected to
graphically to five of the seven dates for the innumerable site formation processes over
Ring Site (Sandweiss et al. 1989:50–51, Ta- the millennia (e.g., deFrance 2005; Keefer
bles 1 and 2). The purpose of the groups is to and Moseley 2004). Ring Site vertebrate re-
take advantage of the stratigraphy in the unit mains are fragile but in relatively good condi-
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to build a relative diachronic sequence over tion compared to those from QJ-280. The dry
roughly four millennia, even though the se- Peruvian coast generally is known for excel-
quence is only tied indirectly to a radiometric lent preservation of archaeological organic
sequence. remains. These two vertebrate assemblages,
however, are from very old sites where geo-
logical and climatic factors accelerated de-
SCREEN SIZE AND SITE FORMATION terioration of organic remains. Alternating
PROCESSES cycles of wet and dry conditions, seismic
events, and landslides likely skewed these
The larger-meshed screen used at the Ring data toward animals and specimens with the
Site during excavation is known to bias re- best chances for surviving 10 millennia of
covery of anchovies, some herrings (Clupei- such conditions. These natural phenomena
dae), and other small fishes, thereby skew- were compounded by human activities. At
ing evidence for their use at the Ring Site QJ-280, the anthropogenic induration layer
and hampering comparison with the QJ-280 appears to have hastened the destruction
assemblage, which was recovered with a of vertebrate remains both from the water
smaller meshed screen (Table 1). This is a that formed it and the salt that cements it,
particularly important difference when con- leaving behind badly preserved fish otoliths
sidering archaeological evidence for associa- and few other vertebrate remains (Andrus
tions among small-bodied fishes, such as an- et al. 2000). QJ-280 vertebrate remains are so
chovies and herrings, cultural processes, and poorly preserved that the durable otoliths
climatic conditions. Failure to recover small- from members of the drum family (Sci-
bodied fishes might be misinterpreted as ev- aenidae) break apart when handled (McIn-
idence that people did not have the technol- nis 1999:51–52). These fragile, chalky white
ogy suitable for their capture, preferred not otoliths may have lost their structural in-
to use small fishes, or that small fishes were tegrity because they were burned by direct
not present locally. In terms of climatic con- exposure to coals (Andrus and Crowe 2002).
ditions, anchovies are characteristic of an ac- The analysis that would test whether all of the
tive Peru Current, but herrings recover more aragonite was inverted to calcite, evidence of
quickly than do anchovies after the current burning, was not conducted and this possi-
is suppressed and are therefore more abun- bility has not been verified.
dant in the years immediately following large
magnitude El Niño events. Thus the relative
percentages of anchovies and herrings are ZOOARCHAEOLOGICAL METHODS
important in reconstructing water tempera-
tures and climatic conditions (Chavez et al. Details of the zooarchaeological methods
2003; Sandweiss et al. 2004). DeFrance ob- are provided in Supplemental Document 1.
served anchovies in unprocessed soil sam- MNI estimates for the Jaguay-96 assemblage
ples from the Ring Site curated at the Museo are made for three analytical groups: Termi-


Elizabeth J. Reitz et al.

nal Pleistocene, Early Holocene I, and Early not represented by at least one otolith. Dur-
Holocene II, but only for those fishes repre- ing analysis of the Jaguay-99 collection, MNI
sented by otoliths (McInnis 1999:52). MNI estimates were made for all taxa regardless
estimates for the Jaguay-99 assemblage are of whether the animal was a fish or not, or
made for three analytical groups: Level 1/2 represented by an otolith or not. This differ-
(post-induration), Level 2b (the induration ence means that the data for these two ex-
layer), and Level 2c (pre-induration). Mate- cavations cannot be combined. For the same
rials from the seven Jaguay-99 excavation reason, estimates of richness, diversity, equi-
units are aggregated to form these analytical tability, trophic levels, and prey body sizes
groups because of the small sample sizes re- were not made for Jaguay-96.
covered from each level in each unit and be- The Jaguay-96 data show that people re-
cause the units were contiguous. In the case lied on coastal resources during both the
of the Ring Site, MNI estimates are made for Terminal Pleistocene and the Early Holocene
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each of the 15 distinct natural strata in Unit (Table 3). The dominant animals in both com-
C-1 (Levels 3b–14). Estimates of richness, ponents are drums known as lornas (Sciaena
diversity, equitability, trophic levels, prey deliciosa). The dominance of drums may be
body sizes, capture methods, and habitat due to site formation processes that favored
preferences are derived using methods dis- the preservation of otoliths over other speci-
cussed elsewhere (Reitz 2001, 2003, 2004a; mens and the resulting analytical decision to
Reitz et al. 2015; Reitz et al. 2009; Reitz and focus on those otoliths. Both collections con-
Sandweiss 2001; Reitz and Wing 2008:110– tain a few anchovy specimens, though MNI
113, 245–247; Supplemental Document 1). was not estimated for them because they
Table 2 lists the values for trophic levels, and were not represented by otoliths. Despite
assignments of taxa to body size categories, the small sample, these data suggest that nets
capture methods, and water conditions. and small-bodied fishes were used during the
All primary and secondary data are de- Terminal Pleistocene and Holocene.
pendent on sample size. Analytical groups
with low NISP and low MNI should be consid-
ered incomplete, with abbreviated richness QUEBRADA JAGUAY-99
and skewed relationships among taxa. In the
case of the QJ-280 data, larger samples and The Jaguay-99 assemblage is dominated
samples of similar sizes from each analytical by corvinas (Sciaenidae: Cilus [Sciaena]
group would be desirable. The Ring Site as- gilberti), lornas, and rodents; this is par-
semblage is large, but represents a single ac- ticularly true for the post-induration col-
tivity area within a much larger site occupied lection (Table 4). Virtually all of the
for several millennia. It is likely that neither pre-induration/induration individuals prefer
of these assemblages fully represents the syn- cool-temperate water conditions (Figure 4).
chronic or diachronic events that occurred Marine diversity is low throughout the se-
at either location. quence. Marine equitability is moderate both
before the induration level was laid down
and subsequently. The slight increase in rich-
QUEBRADA JAGUAY-96 ness above the induration level indicates that
the subsistence base had expanded (Table 4).
The Jaguay-96 and Jaguay-99 data are con- The increase in trophic levels used supports
sidered separately because they represent this assessment (Figures 4 and 5). With the
overlapping but different time periods. Ad- exception of lornas and a post-induration an-
ditionally, different decisions were made in chovy, the taxa are large-bodied fishes occur-
the analysis of the two collections. Jaguay-96 ring either singly or in small schools inshore
covers all periods present at the site whereas and susceptible to individual-capture meth-
Jaguay-99 only refers to Terminal Pleistocene ods (Figure 6). Small-bodied, mass-captured
and earliest Holocene occupations. No MNI lornas, however, contribute at least two-
estimate was attempted for Jaguay-96 taxa thirds of all vertebrate individuals in both

12 VOLUME 00 • ISSUE 00 • 2016

Variations in Human Adaptations in Southern Perú

Table 3. Jaguay-96 (QJ-280, Sectors I, II, IV) vertebrates by analytical group.a

Pleistocene Early Holocene I Early Holocene II


Indeterminate mammal 40 — 1 — 28 —
Sigmodontinae 128 — 3 — 4 —
New world mice
Sigmodon spp. 5 — — — — —
New world mice
Indeterminate bird 13 — — — 2 —
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Indeterminate fish 4058 — 291 — 1826 —

Engraulidae 7 — — — 2 —
Ariidae 3 1 — — — —
Sea catfishes
Mugil sp. — — — — 1 1
Serranidae 1 1 — — — —
Sea basses
Paralabrax humeralis 1 1 — — — —
Rock sea bass
Anisotremus sp. 1 1 — — — —
Sciaenidae 163 8 11 1 63 5
Cilus (Sciaena) gilberti 131 75 11 5 6 5
Paralonchurus 11 — 1 —
Sciaena deliciosa 520 274 94 22 63 17
Cheilodactylus — — — — 1 —
Indeterminate 372 — — — 72 —
Total 5454 361 411 28 2069 28

Data from McInnis (1999:63, 74, 78) modified to facilitate comparison with the Jaguay-99 and the
Ring Site data. Key to abbreviations: NISP: number of identified specimens; MNI: minimum number of
individuals. MNI was estimated only for otoliths. See Table 1 for dates and screen size.


Elizabeth J. Reitz et al.

Table 4. Jaguay-99 (QJ-280, Sector II) vertebrates by analytical group.a

Pre- Post-
induration Induration induration Total


Indeterminate 50 5 5 1 418 33 473 39 15.4

Indeterminate — — — — 5 1 5 1 0.4
Indeterminate 54 — 18 — 220 — 292 — —
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Engraulidae — — — — 1 1 1 1 0.4
Ariidae — — — — 1 1 1 1 0.4
Sea catfish
cf. Carangidae — — — — 1 1 1 1 0.4
Possible jacks
Sciaenidae 22 — 26 — 113 — 161 — —
Cilus (Sciaena) 33 19 14 8 45 22 92 49 19.4
Cynoscion sp. 1 1 — — — — 1 1 0.4
Paralonchurus — — — — 1 1 1 1 0.4
Sciaena 80 43 49 27 179 89 308 159 62.8
Indeterminate — — — — — — — —
Total 240 68 112 36 984 149 1336 253

Indeterminate vertebrate specimens are present in these collections but were not counted. See
Table 1 for dates and screen size.

components. The lower percentage of cool- The recovery of 473 rodent specimens
temperate water individuals in the post- is incongruous given the generally poor con-
induration collection is associated with an dition of the Jaguay-99 material. Most of the
increase in rodents, all of which are probably rodent specimens (n = 321) are from Fea-
New World mice (Sigmodontinae; Table 4). ture 68 (Level 2, II-3-A), just above the in-
Nonetheless, 98% of the marine individuals duration level. This post-induration increase
in the post-induration collection are associ- in rodents may indicate that rodents were
ated with cool-temperate waters. consumed or were attracted to refuse or

14 VOLUME 00 • ISSUE 00 • 2016

Variations in Human Adaptations in Southern Perú
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Figure 4. Percentages of cool-temperate water and mixed-water vertebrate individuals (MNI) plotted
with (A) mean trophic level and (B) marine diversity. Data are arranged in rough chrono-
logical order (Table 1). Jaguay-99 is divided into pre-induration/induration levels (QJ-
pre) and post-induration levels (QJ-post). Ring Site levels are subdivided into four groups,
with Levels 9–14 the oldest and Levels 3–6 the most recent. QJ-pre: marine richness = 3,
marine equitability = 0.585; QJ-post: marine richness = 6, marine equitability = 0.404;
L 9–14: marine richness = 18, marine equitability = 0.858; L 8: marine richness = 14,
marine equitability = 0.879; L 7: marine richness = 16, marine equitability = 0.841; L
3b–6: marine richness = 21, marine equitability = 0.646. Trophic level includes pinnipeds
and fishes, but does not include otters or birds. Marine diversity includes otters, pinnipeds,
and fishes, but not birds. See Table 2, Supplemental Document 1, or Reitz et al. (2015) for
information about trophic level, marine diversity, and water condition classifications.

stored food. Small rodents were eaten else- the cranium (88% of rodent NISP), which
where in the Americas by both foragers and could be evidence that post-cranial elements
farmers and should not be dismissed as a were consumed along with whatever meat
possible food source (Sobolik 2008; Szuter adhered to the tiny bones. It is more likely,
1994). Most of the rodent specimens are from however, that the increase in rodents is unre-


Elizabeth J. Reitz et al.

lated to their use as food. It is possible that ro-

dents entered the site in the post-induration
level after abandonment; the deposit on top
of the induration level was soft and only a few
centimeters thick. An attribution to a lower
taxonomic level would be required to draw
climatic inferences from these data, though
this should be explored further.
The estimated mean standard length of
corvinas and lornas is near or below the
250 mm marker used to distinguish between
small-bodied or large-bodied fishes, though
the maximum standard length estimates all
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exceed 250 mm (Table 5). The small size

range for both fishes suggests that most were
from a single size/age cohort taken during
a specific season when that size/age cohort Figure 5. Percentages of vertebrate individu-
was most abundant and vulnerable to nets. als (MNI) grouped by trophic level.
Nonetheless, at least some individuals were Data are arranged in rough chrono-
larger, perhaps older. logical order (Table 1). See Supple-
The general estimates of body sizes mental Document 1 for information
and the range of trophic levels repre- about trophic level classifications.
sented suggest that several different capture
techniques were used, probably in several
different habitats, and at different stages in THE RING SITE
the tidal or annual cycle. The combination
of lornas and small cordage at the site sug- The economy at the Ring Site was a gener-
gests that people at QJ-280 targeted lornas alized one combining an array of resources
using nets in nearshore waters instead of from several different coastal habitats in dif-
hooks or other individual-capture methods ferent proportions throughout the occupa-
(McInnis 1999:115, 135; Sandweiss et al. tion (Tables 6 and 7). Fishes and birds domi-
1998). Although small-bodied lornas domi- nate the MNI estimates; though fishes are far
nate the Jaguay-99 individuals, at least two more abundant than birds by the end of the
thirds of the vertebrate taxa in both the pre- sequence. Over time, the mean trophic level
induration/induration and post-induration declined slightly, the percentage of cool-
collections are large-bodied taxa suscepti- temperate water individuals increased, and
ble to individual capture. It may be that the subsistence base contracted (Figures 4
individual-capture methods were the pri- and 5).
mary fishing techniques for fishes other than Most of the individuals are found in ei-
small drums and fishes associated with them. ther cool-temperate or mixed-water condi-
The dominance of lornas in the Jaguay- tions and feed at high trophic levels (Fig-
99 assemblage suggests QJ-280 was occu- ures 4 and 5). This consistency suggests local
pied in the austral summer primarily to catch habitats and water regimes did not change
lornas in nearshore waters, at least during significantly while the site was occupied
the Terminal Pleistocene (Sandweiss 2009; though small fluctuations within the prevail-
Sandweiss et al. 1998). The quebrada from ing cool-water regime were likely. Warm-
which the site takes its name is wet in the aus- temperate water animals are consistently
tral summer, but dry during the austral win- rare or absent and cool-temperate water indi-
ter. The winter is also when plants bloom in viduals are much more common by the end
the lomas. This cycle might have motivated of the sequence. Mixed-water conditions are
a seasonal round during the Terminal Pleis- prominent in Levels 9–14 and Level 8 due to
tocene/Early Holocene (see Discussion). the high number of cormorants (Phalacro-

16 VOLUME 00 • ISSUE 00 • 2016

Variations in Human Adaptations in Southern Perú
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Figure 6. Percentages of small-bodied and mass-captured fish taxa plotted with (A) mean trophic
level and (B) marine diversity. Data are arranged in rough chronological order (Table 1).
Jaguay-99 is divided into pre-induration/induration levels (QJ-pre) and post-induration
levels (QJ-post). Ring Site levels are subdivided into four groups, with Levels 9–14 the oldest
and Levels 3–6 the most recent. See Table 2 and Supplemental Document 1 for information
about trophic level, marine diversity, body-size, and capture-method classifications.

corax spp.) in those analytical groups, and Marine diversity is moderate, though it
the lower percentages of mixed-water indi- declines slightly over time, despite an in-
viduals in Level 7 and Levels 3b–6 can be crease in marine richness (Figure 4; Table 7).
attributed, in part, to a decline in cormorants Marine equitability also declines over time,
(Table 7). The dip in mean trophic level reflecting the emphasis on corvinas and lor-
in Level 8 is associated with an increase in nas. A decline in total diversity (from H’ =
mackerels (Scombridae) and a reduction in 2.704 to H’ = 2.197) and a slight decline in
pinnipeds (probably eared seals [Otariidae]). total richness (from 27 to 25) reflects the
The lower mean trophic level in Levels 3b–6 decline in cormorants and the growing dom-
is associated with a general increase in lower- inance of lornas (Table 7).
trophic-level fishes and a further decline in Very small fishes are rare, due in part
the use of pinnipeds. to the recovery method (though compare


Elizabeth J. Reitz et al.

Table 5. Summary of Standard Length estimates, in mm, for corvinas (Cilus [Sciaena]
gilberti) and lornas (Sciaena deliciosa).a

Taxa Description N Minimum Maximum Mean SD

Cilus (Sciaena) Jaguay-99, pre- 96 166.16 384.14 262.27 64.94

gilberti induration/induration
Cilus (Sciaena) Jaguay-99, 42 166.33 361.03 234.43 57.26
gilberti post-induration
Cilus (Sciaena) Jaguay-96, Holocene 11 175.30 358.01 227.94 55.77
Cilus (Sciaena) Ring Site, Levels 9–13 19 121.69 218.96 273.43 36.91
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Cilus (Sciaena) Ring Site, Level 8 10 199.53 355.13 289.23 60.15

Cilus (Sciaena) Ring Site, Level 7 15 101.77 359.45 256.40 75.38
Cilus (Sciaena) Ring Site, Levels 4–6 20 242.73 334.82 304.11 26.12
Cilus (Sciaena) Ring Site, combined 64 101.77 359.45 281.49 52.12
Sciaena Jaguay-99, pre- 220 139.26 275.03 201.53 24.97
deliciosa induration/induration
Sciaena Jaguay-99, 254 115.98 327.79 198.94 24.61
deliciosa post-induration
Sciaena Jaguay-96, Holocene 59 153.45 286.41 195.49 23.25
Sciaena Ring Site, Levels 9–13 22 192.13 253.80 220.84 16.50
Sciaena Ring Site, Level 8 20 197.89 258.29 224.39 18.81
Sciaena Ring Site, Level 7 22 177.99 244.29 210.80 14.99
Sciaena Ring Site, Levels 4–6 83 183.01 269.06 227.53 20.09
Sciaena Ring Site, combined 147 177.99 269.06 223.60 19.47
Jaguay data combine standard length measurements from the 1996 and 1999 excavations. The
estimates published by McInnis (1999) are re-calculated using formula in Supplemental Table 1.
Jaguay-99 materials in the pre-induration/induration and post-induration levels are all considered
Terminal Pleistocene. No Cilus or Sciaena otoliths were present in Ring Site Level 3b. Data are arranged
in rough chronological order.

this to the Jaguay-99 assemblage recovered are large-bodied animals susceptible to

using 1.7 mm mesh; Tables 4 and 7). Over individual-capture methods, with lornas
80% of the taxa throughout the sequence the dominant small-bodied, mass-captured

18 VOLUME 00 • ISSUE 00 • 2016

Variations in Human Adaptations in Southern Perú

Table 6. Ring Site (C-1) vertebrates.a

Taxa NISP MNI % Wt (g) Biomass (kg)

Indeterminate mammal 497 — — 213.97 3.291

Indeterminate rodent 1 — — 0.13 0.004
Sigmodontinae 8 4 0.9 0.15 0.005
New world mice
Carnivora 1 — — 0.62 0.017
Lontra felina 7 3 0.7 11.92 0.245
Marine otter
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cf. Pinnipedia 6 1 0.2 2.23 0.054

Possible sea lion
Pinnipedia 124 12 2.8 299.12 4.449
Seals, sea lions
Indeterminate bird 2183 1 0.2 583.54 6.716
Spheniscus humboldti 23 9 2.1 35.48 0.525
Humboldt penguin
Podiceps major 1 1 0.2 0.09 0.002
Great grebe
Procellariidae 2 2 0.5 1.06 0.022
Pelecanoides garnoti 2 2 0.5 0.21 0.005
Peruvian diving-petrel
Pelecanus spp. 10 4 0.9 6.2 0.107
Sula spp. 163 27 6.2 66.34 0.929
Phalacrocorax spp. 800 75 17.2 443.18 5.229
cf. Cracidae 1 1 0.2 0.04 0.001
Larosterna inca 1 1 0.2 0.14 0.003
Inca tern
Indeterminate fish 8402 2 0.5 687.61 5.865
Clupeidae 1 1 0.2 0.03 0.002
Ariidae 2 1 0.2 0.39 0.008
Sea catfishes
Mugiloides chilensis 7 6 1.4 1.42 0.037
Serranidae 12 6 1.4 1.84 0.036
Sea basses
(Continued on next page)


Elizabeth J. Reitz et al.

Table 6. Ring Site (C-1) vertebrates.a (Continued)

Taxa NISP MNI % Wt (g) Biomass (kg)

cf. Epinephelus spp. 7 5 1.1 1.65 0.032

cf. Paralabrax 13 7 1.6 1.8 0.035
Possible rock sea bass
Paralabrax humeralis 20 10 2.3 4.75 0.100
Rock sea bass
Carangidae 34 1 0.2 11.37 0.330
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Caranx spp. 4 3 0.7 0.77 0.031
Trachinotus paitensis 1 1 0.2 0.06 0.003
Paloma pompano
Trachurus murphyi 7 6 1.4 0.99 0.039
Haemulidae 5 1 0.2 1.23 0.028
Anisotremus 18 7 1.6 3.97 0.074
Isacia conceptionis 1 1 0.2 0.20 0.006
Sciaenidae 6 — — 0.57 0.026
cf. Bairdiella spp. 2 2 0.5 0.35 0.018
Cilus (Sciaena) gilberti 83 45 10.3 47.60 0.678
Cynoscion spp. 15 10 2.3 3.51 0.099
Sciaena spp. 20 3 0.7 3.17 0.091
Sciaena deliciosa 190 101 23.2 45.75 0.659
Labridae 15 4 0.9 9.20 0.174
Cheilodactylus spp. 141 35 8.0 22.67 0.367
(Continued on next page)

20 VOLUME 00 • ISSUE 00 • 2016

Variations in Human Adaptations in Southern Perú

Table 6. Ring Site (C-1) vertebrates.a (Continued)

Taxa NISP MNI % Wt (g) Biomass (kg)

cf. Labrisomus philippi 4 4 0.9 0.34 0.011
Chalapo clinid
Scombridae 167 16 3.7 31.58 0.484
cf. Sarda spp. 5 — — 0.62 0.019
Possible bonito
Sarda spp. 5 3 0.7 0.47 0.015
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Scomberomorus spp. 5 3 0.7 1.54 0.039
Paralichthys spp. 13 9 2.1 2.87 0.067
Indeterminate — — — —
vertebrate 1311.95
Total 13035 436 30.9778
Originally published in Sandweiss et al. (1989:60) and reproduced here with modifications. Key to
abbreviations: NISP: number of identified specimens; MNI: minimum number of individuals. See
Table 1 for dates and screen size. Biomass is estimated from specimen weight using allometric formulae
in Supplemental Table 1. Cormorants were attributed to Phalacrocorax spp. during the original
studies. Some genetic studies suggest that the genus should be subdivided, with some members
classified as Leucocarbo spp. (Kennedy et al. 2000).

fish (Figure 6). The estimated mean stan- this observation has little meaning. Marine
dard length and the maximum estimated mammals include marine otters (Lontra fe-
standard length for corvinas is higher than lina) and pinnipeds. Two of the otters were
the 250 mm marker used to classify taxa adults at death and the third individual was
as small- or large-bodied (Table 5). The a subadult when it died. These could have
small range in size for both corvinas and died during almost any season. Most of the
lornas suggests that most were from a single unidentified mammal specimens are proba-
size/age cohort taken during a specific bly pinniped rather than deer (Cervidae) or
season when that size/age cohort was most guanaco (Lama guanicoe).
abundant and vulnerable to nets. On the The pinniped remains suggest that se-
other hand, at least some individuals were lected portions of these large mammals were
larger, perhaps older, and may have been transported from the shore up to the site. Of
taken at another time of year, with another the 130 pinniped or possible pinniped spec-
method, and/or from another location. This imens in the assemblage, 15% are from the
would be particularly the case for corvinas. cranium; 12% are from the vertebral column,
Mammals are present but rare in the Ring upper hindlimbs, and forelimbs; and 73%
Site assemblage. New World mice are the are foot specimens (carpals, tarsals, metapo-
only clearly terrestrial mammals. Mice indi- dials, and phalanges). Late Pleistocene ma-
viduals are slightly more abundant in Levels terials from Huaca Prieta indicate that por-
3b–6 than in earlier levels, though with a total tions of pinniped carcasses, along with other
of four individuals in the entire assemblage coastal resources, were transported from a


Elizabeth J. Reitz et al.

Table 7. Ring Site: Vertebrate NISP and MNI by analytical group.

L9–14 L9–14 L8 L8 L7 L7 L3b–6 L3b–6


Indeterminate 70 — 69 — 295 — 63 —
Indeterminate — — 1 — — — — —
Sigmodontinae 5 1 1 1 — — 2 2
Carnivora — — — — 1 — — —
Lontra felina — — 4 2 3 1 — —
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cf. Pinnipedia — — — — 6 1 — —
Pinnipedia 15 5 64 2 41 3 4 2
Indeterminate bird 819 1 906 — 377 — 81 —
Spheniscus 4 2 4 1 11 4 4 2
Podiceps major 1 1 — — — — — —
Procellariidae 1 1 1 1 — — — —
Pelecanoides — — 1 1 1 1 — —
Pelecanus spp. 2 1 7 2 1 1 — —
Sula spp. 47 8 91 12 24 6 1 1
Phalacrocorax 275 27 373 32 122 10 30 6
cf. Cracidae 1 1 — — — — — —
Larosterna inca — — 1 1 — — — —
Indeterminate fish 1192 1 842 — 3865 — 2503 1
Clupeidae — — — — — — 1 1
Ariidae — — — — — — 2 1
Mugiloides 3 2 1 1 3 3 — —
Serranidae 3 2 1 1 3 — 5 3
cf. Epinephelus 7 5 — — — — — —
cf. Paralabrax 1 1 — — 4 2 8 4
Paralabrax 8 5 5 3 7 2 — —
Carangidae 3 — 8 — 13 — 10 1
Caranx spp. 1 1 — — 3 2 — —
(Continued on next page)

22 VOLUME 00 • ISSUE 00 • 2016

Variations in Human Adaptations in Southern Perú

Table 7. Ring Site: Vertebrate NISP and MNI by analytical group. (Continued)

L9–14 L9–14 L8 L8 L7 L7 L3b–6 L3b–6


Trachinotus — — — — — — 1 1
Trachurus — — 2 2 3 3 2 1
Haemulidae — — — — 1 — 4 1
Anisotremus 9 3 5 2 4 2 — —
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Isacia — — — — 1 1 — —
Sciaenidae — — — — 1 — 5 —
cf. Bairdiella spp. — — — — — — 2 2
Cilus (Sciaena) 22 12 18 7 18 11 25 15
Cynoscion spp. 1 1 2 1 1 1 11 7
Sciaena spp. 3 — 8 3 8 — 1 —
Sciaena deliciosa 27 17 22 12 39 16 102 56
Labridae 9 2 5 1 — — 1 1
Cheilodactylus 38 11 27 4 57 14 19 6
cf. Labrisomus 1 1 — — 2 2 1 1
Scombridae 52 5 50 6 51 3 14 2
cf. Sarda spp. — — 2 — 3 — — —
Sarda spp. 1 1 — — — — 4 2
Scomberomorus 3 1 — — 1 1 1 1
Paralichthys spp. 8 4 — — 2 2 3 3
Total 2632 123 2521 98 4972 92 2910 123

Data from Sandweiss et al. (1989:52, 54). See Table 2 for common names. Cormorants were
attributed to Phalacrocorax spp. during the original studies. Some genetic studies suggest that the
genus should be subdivided, with some members classified as Leucocarbo spp. (Kennedy et al. 2000).

coastline that may have been 20 km from ential transport of preferred portions from
the site at the time (Dillehay et al. 2012); the beach to the site. In particular, it sug-
thus transport of pinniped carcasses over 5– gests that some butchery took place on the
10 km is not unprecedented. Although trans- beach, but that the hide was brought back
port theory argues that the dominance of to the site with foot bones still in place.
head and foot specimens represents butch- The Ring Site pinniped materials are from
ery waste and not prime meat-bearing parts one juvenile, four subadults, two adults,
of the carcass, in the case of the Ring and six individuals whose age could not be
Site it is more likely evidence of prefer- estimated.


Elizabeth J. Reitz et al.

With the exception of the chachalacas taken with nets, scoops, or traps, though the
(and perhaps the Indeterminate Bird), all range in size/age classes of corvinas, and the
birds are associated with the Peru Current larger lornas, indicates that different fishing
today. The sea birds indicate that nesting technologies were used in other locations to
sites and food sources were available nearby; capture these larger fishes. The fishing effort
an interpretation reinforced by the presence deployed against lornas, however, suggests
of otters and pinnipeds, which also are at- a highly focused effort targeting a single age
tracted to the food offered by the Peru Cur- cohort at a specific time and in a specific lo-
rent and onshore nesting or resting locations. cation, within what was otherwise a broad-
The bird rookery and marine mammal pre- based strategy. This was especially the case at
serve at Punta Coles is easily accessed from the end of the sequence when high-trophic-
the Ring Site today and the large number level fishes are rare.
of birds and marine mammals in the Ring
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Site assemblage suggests that a similar habi-

tat was present in the Early Holocene. Cor- DISCUSSION
morants are typical of the Peru Current, but
the identification of these birds to genus pre- Many studies document the antiquity and
cludes classifying them as members of the extent to which coastal resources were
cool-temperate-water group. used along the South American Pacific
The Ring Site may have been a base from coast (e.g., Ballester et al. 2012; Béarez
which several different extraction locales 2000, 2012; Béarez et al. 2015; deFrance
were accessed to acquire a variety of marine 2005, 2008, 2009; deFrance et al. 2001,
vertebrates during the year. The wide range 2009; Dillehay et al. 2012; Fantle 2003;
of trophic levels used, the moderate total and Jackson et al. 2007; Keefer et al. 1998;
marine diversity, and the range of prey body Lavallée et al. 2011; Llagostera Martinez
sizes represented suggest several different 1979, 1992; McInnis 1999, 2006; Plourde
capture techniques and habitats were used 1998; Reitz 2001, 2003, 2004b; Reitz et al.
and that these changed over time (Figure 6; 2008, 2015; Reitz and Masucci 2004; Reitz
Table 2). The large numbers of sea birds, es- and Sandweiss 2001; Sandweiss 2003, 2009,
pecially cormorants, in addition to otters and 2014; Sandweiss et al. 1989, 1998; Wing
pinnipeds, indicate that capture techniques and Reitz 1982). These studies show that
for these animals might have been different use of coastal resources was both heteroge-
from those used to capture most of the fish, neous and flexible. This is particularly ev-
especially lornas. Pinnipeds and birds, in par- ident when vertebrate data from two sites
ticular, were sources of valuable materials located relatively close to one another, QJ-
that could be made into clothing, tools, and 280 and the Ring Site, are considered from
ornaments, such as grease, hides, feathers, a broadly diachronic perspective. That per-
and bones. spective shows continuity in economic ac-
DeFrance and her colleagues (deFrance tivity over time accompanied by changes
2005; deFrance et al. 2001) interpret the within that strategy. These changes likely re-
large number of birds at Tacahuay as ev- flect economic and social flexibility driven,
idence that nets were used, and this was in part, by fluctuations in environmental
likely so at the Ring Site. Nets also could be conditions.
used to capture marine mammals and in fish- Biotic effects of atmospheric and
ing. Most of the fishes in the assemblage are oceanographic conditions related to ENSO
carnivores or omnivores found singly or in cycles and Peru Current variability at the end
small schools near shore over hard, soft, or of the Pleistocene and during the early mil-
sandy bottoms, though some are more abun- lennia of the Holocene may underlie some of
dant further from shore. Individual-capture the differences in cultural history, settlement
techniques may have been the primary fish- patterns, and resource use. Unfortunately,
ing technique for these taxa instead of mass- no natural paleoenvironmental proxies are
capture techniques. Small lornas were likely reported for the southern Peruvian coast.

24 VOLUME 00 • ISSUE 00 • 2016

Variations in Human Adaptations in Southern Perú

The organic contents of the only known (Sandweiss et al. 2007). The extremely small
Terminal Pleistocene and/or Early Holocene increase in warm-temperate water individ-
sites in the area (Quebrada Jaguay [QJ-280], uals, however, is insufficient to indicate a
the Ring Site, Quebrada Tacahuay, and Que- regime change such as was experienced
brada de los Burros), however, indicate that in northern Perú during the mid-Holocene
cool-temperate marine conditions prevailed (e.g., Chavez et al. 2003). The waters near
between ca. 13,000 and 7500 cal BP, con- both QJ-280 and the Ring Site remained pre-
ditions similar to those found in the re- dominately cool. These results are consis-
gion today (Sandweiss 2003). This means tent with paleoclimatological evidence from
that the coastal zone was hyperarid, with other early coastal sites in southern Perú and
available water provided by permanent and with other proxies (e.g., Carré et al. 2005,
ephemeral streams and (particularly in the 2014; Fontugne et al. 1999, 2004; Geyh et al.
Early Holocene) dense winter fog or garua 1999; Grosjean 2001; Grosjean et al. 1997a;
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(Fontugne et al. 1999). Streamflow in the Grosjean et al. 1997b; Halpin et al. 2004;
Terminal Pleistocene and Early Holocene de- Sandweiss 2003; Sandweiss et al. 2004).
pends on the timing and intensity of high- Many of the differences between these
land precipitation where streams originate. two assemblages, and within them, may
Drawing on other research, Rademaker et al. be explained by local topography associ-
(2014) suggest highland conditions were ated with sea-level changes, storms, tectonic
wetter than at present, at least during the events, and similar changes along the coast.
Terminal Pleistocene. The virtual absence of rock-dwelling mol-
If atmospheric and oceanographic luscs in QJ-280 deposits suggests the adjacent
conditions were stable throughout the shoreline was entirely sand-mantled when
sequence, similar percentages of cool- sea level was lower in the Terminal Pleis-
temperate water individuals probably would tocene and Early Holocene. It is only after a
have persisted throughout the chronological mid-Holocene hiatus from ca. 8000 to 4000
sequence. Instead, the percentage of cool- cal yr BP that rock-dwelling molluscs appear
temperate water individuals varies. In the frequently in sites lying within ca. 5 km of
Jaguay-99 assemblage, higher percentages of QJ-280. The rocky promontory near the Ring
cool-temperate water individuals are found Site today, in addition to the abundance of
in the pre-induration/induration collection rock-dwelling molluscs, marine mammals,
than in the post-induration collection. Like- and seabirds in that assemblage, suggests that
wise, the early analytical groups at the Ring this, or similar, rocky habitats were accessi-
Site have smaller percentages of cool-water ble from the Ring Site when that site was
individuals than do the later ones. One might occupied.
also expect cool-temperate water individuals Rodents increase at the end of both the
to be more abundant in the Ring Site assem- Jaguay-99 and Ring Site sequences. Rodents
blage than in the QJ-280 assemblage due to in the Jaguay-99 assemblage may indicate
the Ring Site’s more southerly location, but that they were more abundant after the in-
that is not the case. Warm-temperate water duration layer was laid down, though mice
individuals are absent from the Jaguay-99 specimens also are abundant in the Jaguay-
pre-induration/induration collection and 96 Terminal Pleistocene and Early Holocene
rare among post-induration individuals. The collections. Rodents may reflect QJ-280’s lo-
number of mixed-water forms declines from cation on the banks of an ephemeral stream
early levels to later ones in the Ring Site with seasonal flow and enduring vegetation
assemblage. during the austral summer. They may also be
It is likely that water conditions were evidence of food preservation and storage
subject to variations within a cool-water activities that occurred after the induration
regime. Occasional modest increases in layer was laid down. Given that the Jaguay-
warm-temperate individuals may reflect the 99 rodents are primarily from a single, post-
same mid-Holocene warming trend observed induration feature, they could suggest that
at sites on the northern Peruvian coast the deposit was used for refuse disposal or


Elizabeth J. Reitz et al.

food storage, including storage of dried fish. Perhaps QJ-280 was primarily a place to
The very small increase in rodents in Levels capture and preserve fish for later use at the
3b–6 at the Ring Site may signify a modest site or to exchange for goods from the high-
increase in vegetation at the site, perhaps lands. Targeting fish large enough to pre-
supported by more moisture from an ENSO serve and transport may have been a motiva-
event. tion for occupying QJ-280 seasonally, when
QJ-280, the Ring Site, Quebrada Tac- water was available in Quebrada Jaguay, par-
ahuay, and Quebrada de los Burros pro- ticularly during the Terminal Pleistocene and
vide the only information currently avail- earliest part of the Holocene. A nearby site,
able for early cultural history and settle- QJ-1, had a similar function. QJ-1 is an exten-
ment patterns on the southern coast. Ex- sive, very Early Holocene midden on a lateral
tensive survey in the Quebrada Jaguay re- terrace in Quebrada Jaguay, just under 2 km
gion did not find any Pleistocene sites other inland from QJ-280. Test pits and surface ob-
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than QJ-280, but obsidian, petrified wood, servations indicate that QJ-1 consists only of
and prickly pear cactus seeds indicate that wedge clam shells and charcoal (Sandweiss
QJ-280 had close contact with both inter- 1999). The most likely activity at this site was
mediate and high altitude interior regions drying wedge clam meat, an artisanal activity
during the Terminal Pleistocene (Sandweiss that remained common in the region until the
2014). These items could be evidence of a 1997-98 El Niño decimated Peruvian wedge
seasonal migration between the coast and clam populations. Perhaps less specializa-
the interior locations, or of an exchange tion was the rule after the Pleistocene/Early
system, though the absence of contempo- Holocene transition. Other special-use sites
raneous coastal sites in the area suggests of the Pleistocene/Early Holocene transition
the former. The Early Holocene increase have not yet been found or studied, possi-
in the number of sites both in the Que- bly because of a persistent bias against look-
brada itself and on the surrounding hill- ing for early coastal occupations—which we
slopes and a decline in evidence for high- hope to dispel with these data (deFrance
land interaction suggest a switch to perma- 2008; Jackson et al. 2007).
nent coastal habitation, with people perhaps People at QJ-280 and the Ring Site used
moving seasonally among the Quebrada, the similar coastal resources, though in dissim-
surrounding hills, and the nearby Camaná ilar ways (Table 8). These materials rep-
River valley (Sandweiss 2009; Sandweiss resent considered choices made by peo-
et al. 1998; Tanner 2001). The region ple about which resources to use, when
seems to have been abandoned in the to use them, and how to acquire them,
mid-Holocene. in response to variations in the resource
Throughout its occupation, QJ-280 had base itself. People at both sites had simi-
houses and evidence for a variety of domestic lar concepts of how to use the resources
activities, indicating that it was a base camp. available to them. About two thirds of the
Neither the Ring Site nor Quebrada Tacahuay taxa in the QJ-280 assemblage were cap-
have evidence or structures or of contact tured using individual-capture technologies;
with the interior. Quebrada Tacahuay ap- probably from locations productively ex-
pears to be a logistical camp focused on ex- ploited using hooks, gorges, leisters, or sim-
tracting marine birds (deFrance et al. 2001; ilar individual-capture technologies. A third
Keefer et al. 1998). Quebrada de los Bur- of the taxa, however, were inherently small-
ros does have a domestic area with struc- bodied and susceptible to mass-capture tech-
tures; the excavators indicate short occu- niques. Many fewer Ring Site taxa are clas-
pations on the Early Holocene with possi- sified as small-bodied, mass-captured taxa;
ble highland contacts and then more per- but it is likely that this number would be
manent coastal occupation during the mid- higher if the fine-screened samples from
Holocene (Lavallée et al. 2011). This paral- the Ring Site were studied. People at both
lels QJ-280’s history but is offset by about sites focused on cool-temperate water in-
3,000 years. dividuals from trophic level 3.5, particu-

26 VOLUME 00 • ISSUE 00 • 2016

Variations in Human Adaptations in Southern Perú

Table 8. Summary of taxa: Jaguay-99 and the Ring Site.a

Jaguay-99 Ring Site

Classification MNI % MNI %

Terrestrial 39 15.4 4 0.9
Marine — — 16 3.7
Birds 1 0.4 123 28.2
Fishes 213 84.2 293 67.2
Total 253 436
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MNI: Minimum number of individuals.

larly drums, specifically lornas. Over time, They highlight differences that can exist
however, animals from lower trophic lev- among sites even when people relied upon
els were added to the strategies practiced a very similar resource base. Clearly it is
at both sites. The strategy at the Ring Site possible for more than one strategy to be
defined a resource base that was richer and practiced even at coastal sites relatively
more diverse than that used earlier at QJ-280. close in space and time.
The subsistence base at the Ring Site was
much broader and extended beyond fishes
to include marine mammals and birds. The
Ring Site is optimally placed to exploit this CONCLUSIONS
broader resource base. People at the Ring
Site lived there throughout the year in or- These two assemblages confirm the ex-
der to take advantage of the different coastal tent to which coastal resources dominated
locales and resources available nearby economies along the Peruvian coast dur-
(deFrance et al. 2009; Sandweiss et al. 1989), ing the Terminal Pleistocene and Early
while QJ-280 has clear evidence of inter- Holocene. They also document the variabil-
action with the interior during the Termi- ity that existed among communities that
nal Pleistocene and earliest Holocene (Rade- relied upon similar coastal resources. Dif-
maker et al. 2014; Sandweiss 2014). ferences between and within these assem-
These assemblages confirm the extent blages undoubtedly reflect local conditions,
to which coastal resources could dom- but they also reflect economic decisions and
inate early coastal economies along the social ties on local and regional scales. This is
South American Pacific rim. These distinct particularly true for QJ-280 where evidence
economic strategies may reflect subtle for long-distance trade is present and people
differences in the hunting (of marine mam- specialized in capturing a single resource.
mals), birding, and fishing opportunities The Ring Site, on the other hand, was occu-
at the two sites. There is no evidence for pied by people who accessed several differ-
terrestrial hunting at these sites. Given the ent coastal locales throughout the year, leav-
evidence presently available, it is unlikely ing a richer, more diverse vertebrate record.
that the marine focus that dominated life at Many different resources were drawn upon
these two sites developed out of previous to form these two different heterogeneous,
terrestrial-based adaptations. As a group, dynamic, and flexible strategies. Compara-
they indicate that many different maritime tive studies such as this one highlight the
traditions were in place by ca. 13,145 cal yr many distinct human behaviors that can char-
BP, if not earlier, and persisted for millennia. acterize coastal life.


Elizabeth J. Reitz et al.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS ing methods on otolith chemistry. Journal of

Archaeological Science 29:291–299.
We gratefully acknowledge James B. Andrus, C. F. T., D. E. Crowe, and D. H. Sandweiss.
Richardson III, Kristin Sobolik, and David 2000. Anthropogenic induration of sediments
at the Terminal Pleistocene Peruvian site Que-
Sanger for their support of this work. We
brada Jaguay. Boulder, CO: Geological Society
thank Elizabeth S. Wing and Kitty Emery of America Meeting Program A276.
for permission to use the Environmental Andrus, C. F. T., D. E. Crowe, D. H. Sandweiss, E.
Archaeology comparative collection at the J. Reitz, and C. S. Romanek. 2002. Otolith δ 18O
Florida Museum of Natural History, the record of mid-Holocene sea surface tempera-
Museo Contisuyo for research space and tures in Peru. Science 295:1508–1511.
use of the comparative collection, C. Fred Ballester, B., D. Jackson, M. Carré, A. Maldon-
T. Andrus for information about indura- ado, C. Méndez, and R. Seguel. 2012. An Early
tion layer at QJ-280, and the 1987 Univer- Holocene task camp (∼ 8.5 ka cal BP) on the
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sity of Georgia Zooarchaeology class. We coast of the semi-arid north of Chile. Antiquity
also appreciate the comments of our col-
Béarez, P. 2000. Archaic fishing at Quebrada de los
leagues who reviewed this manuscript. Fig- Burros, southern coast of Peru. Reconstruction
ures 1–3 were drafted by Susan Duser and of fish size using otoliths. Archaeofauna 9:29–
Oswaldo Chozo provided technical help in 34.
the field during the 1996 and 1999 Jaguay Béarez, P. 2012. Los peces y la pesca. In Prehis-
projects. Earlier versions of this article were toria de la Costa Extremo-sur del Perú. Los
presented at the 73rd annual meeting of the Pescadores Arcaicos de la Quebrada de los
Society for American Archaeology, Vancou- Burros (10000-7000 A.P.) (D. Lavallée and M.
ver, Canada, and the 12th International Julien, eds.):99–123. Lima: IFEA-PUCP.
Conference of Archaeozoology, San Rafael, Béarez, P., D. Jackson, and N. Mollaret. 2015. Early
Archaic fishing (12,600–9,200 cal yr BP) in the
semiarid north coast of Chile. Journal of Is-
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