Before Farming

Late Holocene human occupation of the Quequén Grande River valley bottom

settlement systems and an example of a built environment in the Argentine Pampas

Before Farming (2003), 2003, (4), 1–27.

Abstract

This paper presents a preliminary model of the occupational history of the valley bottoms at the edges of the bed of the Quequén Grande River (Argentina) during the late Holocene. The ultimate goal of the research is to situate some aspects of technology, mobility, land-use patterns and settlement systems as a proximal consequence of a long-term process of ‘lithification', that is, the positioning of lithic raw material across otherwise lithic-free areas of the landscape.

In order to address this issue, distributions of lithic artefacts are used to discuss features of the regional technological organisation and settlement systems and the relationships between people and the landscape. In that sense, lithification, a variant of a ‘provisioning places’ strategy, has implications for other aspects of a human adaptive system. The lithification process has influenced the organisation of technology, in particular the degree of planning and anticipation necessary, which in turn affects the degree to which technological strategies (eg, curation and expediency) were employed. Lithification also has implications for the organisation of logistical and residential mobility strategies by encouraging reoccupations, changing periodicity of reoccupation, altering landscape use patterns, and making for longer seasonal or task-specific stays. One end result is an artificial conflation of resources, and a lessening of resource heterogeneity. For example, there will be more places where critical resources, such as water, fauna, and flora, co-occur with the lithic resources needed to exploit them. The lithic raw material distribution is only partially dependant on natural occurrence because the environment has been reorganised and (intentionally or otherwise) built by human activity. We propose that in the Pampas the late Holocene witnesses a process of ‘building a landscape’ which had implications for social organisation and hence played an important role in regional human adaptation and cultural evolution.

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Martínez, Gustavo

Mackie, Quentin