Before Farming

Plant use intensification among hunter-gatherers in the Diamante river basin, Argentina

Before Farming (2011), 2011, (2), 1–15.

Abstract

Archaeologists have become increasingly interested in understanding the conditions under which resource intensification occurs. In the case of vegetal foods, the process often ends with the adoption of agriculture. In this article we explore wild plant resource intensification using archaeobotanical information from three sites located in the upper Diamante river basin, Mendoza province, Argentina. The area was populated by humans ca 8000 BP and the first evidence of wild plant exploitation in the regional archaeological record appears ca 3000 BP. Resource intensification is evaluated using return rates for plants recovered from the sites in the study area. The results show the exclusive use of high ranked plants during the beginning of the occupation with an increase in diet breadth over time. In addition, a comparison of the return rates of wild plants and domesticates indicates that agriculture appears in the study region coincidently with the initiation of low return (low rank) plant exploitation.

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Llano, Carina

Neme, Gustavo

Michieli, Catalina