Land, Water, and Empire in the High-Altitude Atacama

Research Team Seminar

April 11–13, 2015

Land, Water, and Empire in the High-Altitude AtacamaLand, Water, and Empire in the High-Altitude AtacamaChaired by Frances Hayashida, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of New Mexico; César Parcero-Oubiña, Staff Scientist, Instituto de Ciencias del Patrimonio, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (Spain); Diego Salazar, Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, Universidad de Chile; and Andrés Troncoso, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, Universidad de Chile. Research Team Seminar, April 11–13, 2015. Photo by William Geoghegan.Land, Water, and Empire in the High-Altitude AtacamaChaired by Frances Hayashida, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of New Mexico; César Parcero-Oubiña, Staff Scientist, Instituto de Ciencias del Patrimonio, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (Spain); Diego Salazar, Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, Universidad de Chile; and Andrés Troncoso, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, Universidad de Chile. Research Team Seminar, April 11–13, 2015. Photo by William Geoghegan.

Historical records for the Inka provide some information about how the state kept workers, personnel, royals, and the military fed, but little is known about how Inka agriculture functioned on the ground. Working within the framework of political ecology, the Topaín Archaeological Project is addressing this question for the Andean Inka Empire in an interdisciplinary collaboration involving researchers and students from the US, Chile, and Spain. This seminar was convened to explore long-term, historical perspectives on changes in local landscapes and livelihoods within broader political economies and complex relationships between water, land, politics, and society.

Seminar team members are based at nine institutions in three countries on three different continents. Their research is focused on three sites, Topaín, Paniri, and Turi, which are located between the Upper Loa and Salado rivers at 22 deg 10’ S and ca. 10,000 feet above sea level. The first phase of recently completed fieldwork and analysis included: mapping the settlements and agricultural field systems (facilitated by the extraordinary preservation and visibility of canals, fields, and architecture); testing excavations in settlements and fields; establishing a baseline chronology of occupation of the study sites; conducting a geomorphological survey; studying soils formation and management; creating paleoenvironmental reconstruction based on pollen; analyzing archaeological plant remains to identify the crops that were grown and consumed; and interviewing members of descendant communities about current and historical farming and irrigation principles and practices.

Making the best use of the opportunity to gather the team in one place, the seminar co-chairs set out the following goals for the seminar:

  1. To share research results to date across the various lines of investigation
  2. To discuss and debate the interpretations and significance of project findings
  3. To enrich interdisciplinary exchange by having the time to break down difficult or unfamiliar concepts and explain work in depth
  4. To make plans for publications, scientific presentations and public outreach
  5. To plan 2015 fieldwork and analyses
  6. To discuss long-term goals and the next round of research proposals.

The co-chairs reported that, “By the end of Days 1 and 2, participants had deepened their understanding of each other’s contributions and made connections between different and disparate lines of research. A very productive Day 3 of the seminar was dedicated to integrating results, identifying gaps or areas that needed to be strengthened, and planning presentations, publications, outreach activities, and future research.” They continued:

Immediately following the seminar, and informed by discussions at the SAR, project members gave four presentations at the Society for American Archaeology Meetings in San Francisco as part of three separate sessions, including one planned by the seminar co-organizers on the comparative archaeology of agricultural landscapes. Other project presentations in 2015 will be given in London, Tucumán (Argentina), and Concepción (Chile). An international workshop in Chile on ancient South American agricultural landscapes is planned for 2016. The SAR discussions will also inform manuscripts by different project members that are in progress or planned for US and international peer-reviewed journals.

The SAA presentations are listed below:

2015. Parcero-Oubiña, César. Patricia Manana-Borrazas, Alejandro Guimil-Farina, Mariela Pino, and César Borie. “A UAV-Based Approach for a Cost-Efficient Documentation of Agrarian Structures in the Arid Atacama Area (N. Chile).” 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology. San Francisco, CA.

2015. Hayashida, Frances, Andrés Troncoso, Diego Salazar, César Parcero-Oubiña, and Pastor Fabrega-Alvarez. “Agriculture and Empire in the High-Altitude Atacama Desert.” 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology. San Francisco, CA.

2015. Sandor, Jonathan and Jeffrey Homburg. “Approaches to Assessing Anthropogenic Soil-Landscape Change in Ancient Agricultural Systems.” 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology. San Francisco, CA.

2015. Salazar, Diego, Carola Flores, Laura Olguin, César Borie, and Valentina Figueroa. “Environment, History, and Resilience of Archaic Coastal Hunter-Gatherer-Fishers from the Atacama Desert (N. Chile).” 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology. San Francisco, CA.

Frances Hayashida, Chair Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of New Mexico Inka Agriculture and Water Management
César Parcero-Oubiña, Chair Staff Scientist, Instituto de Ciencias del Patrimonio, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (Spain) Análisis y Cronología de las Evidencias Arqueológicas de los Espacios de Riego y Cultivo (co-authored with Pastor Fábrega-Álvarez)
Diego Salazar, Chair Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, Universidad de Chile Late Intermediate and Late Periods in the Atacama
Andrés Troncoso, Chair Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, Universidad de Chile Contextualizando Procesos: Una Aproximación al Período Intermedio Tardío y Tardío en Los Andes del Sur
Pastor Fábrega-Álvarez Technical Research Staff Member, Instituto de Ciencias del Patrimonio, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (Spain) Análisis y Cronología de las Evidencias Arqueológicas de los Espacios de Riego y Cultivo (co-authored with César Parcero-Oubiña
Gary A. Huckleberry Adjunct Research Associate, Dept. of Geosciences, University of Arizona Geomorphological Overview of the Topaín and Paniri Archaeological Sites, Turi Basin, Northern Chile
Antonio Maldonado Researcher, Centro de Estudios Avanzados en Zonas Áridas, Universidad de La Serena 1. 2000 Years Paleoenvironmental Synthesis of the Atacama Desert (18° - 25° S) Based on Biological Proxies
2. Analisis de Madrigueras Fósiles y Muestras de Sedimento de las Localidades Topaín, Turi y Paniri (co-authored with Danisa Paredes)
Viviana P. Manríquez Assistant Professor, Dept. of Anthropology, Universidad Academia de Humanismo Cristiano Sistemas y Prácticas Agrícolas en Aiquina-Turi-Paniri. Una Primera Aproximación
Virginia McRostie Postdoctoral Researcher, Dept. of Biological Sciences, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Preliminary Archaeobotanical Evidence for the Agro-ecological System in the Upper LOA during the PIT and Inka Periods in Panire and Topaín, Andean Highlands of Northern Chile
Beau G. Murphy Doctoral Student, Dept. of Anthropology, University of New Mexico Production and Political Economy at the Site of Turi, Northern Chile
Jonathan A. Sandor Professor Emeritus, Consultant, Dept. of Agronomy, Iowa State University, and Private Consultant Soils in Ancient Irrigated Agricultural Terraces in the High-Altitude Atacama Desert, Chile (co-authored with Gary Huckleberry)
Cruz Ferro Vázquez Postdoctoral Fellow, Instituto de Ciencias del Patrimonio, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (Spain) Study of the Chemical, Mineralogical and Spectroscopic Properties of Terraced Soils in Topaín
Xurxo M. Ayán Vila Postdoctoral Researcher, Department of Geography, Archaeology, and Prehistory, Built Heritage Research Group, Universidad del País Vasco El Poblado en Altura de Topaín: Una Residencia en la Tierra (co-authored with Miguel Martínez)

Sponsored by National Science Foundation

Follow us: