Refining the Maritime Foundations of Andean Civilization: How Plant Fiber Technology Drove Social Complexity during the Preceramic Period
Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory
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Beresford-Jones, D., Pullen, A., Chauca, G., Cadwallader, L., Garcia, M., Salvatierra, I., Whaley, O., et al. (2017). Refining the Maritime Foundations of Andean Civilization: How Plant Fiber Technology Drove Social Complexity during the Preceramic Period. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory, 25 (2), 393-425. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10816-017-9341-3
Moseley’s (1975) Maritime Foundations of Andean Civilization hypothesis challenges, in one of humanity’s few pristine hearths of civilization, the axiom that agriculture is necessary for the rise of complex societies. We revisit that hypothesis by setting new findings from La Yerba II (7,571-6,674 Cal BP) and III (6,485-5,893 Cal BP), Río Ica estuary, alongside the wider archaeological record for the end of the Middle Preceramic Period on the Peruvian coast. The La Yerba record evinces increasing population, sedentism and ‘Broad Spectrum Revolution’ features, including early horticulture of Phaseolus and Canavalia beans. Yet unlike further north, these changes failed to presage the florescence of monumental civilization during the subsequent Late Preceramic Period. Instead, the south coast saw a profound ‘archaeological silence’. These contrasting trajectories had little to do with any relative differences in marine resources, but rather to restrictions on the terrestrial resources that determined a society’s capacity to intensify exploitation of those marine resources. We explain this apparent miscarriage of the MFAC hypothesis on the south coast of Peru by proposing more explicit links than hitherto, between the detailed technological aspects of marine exploitation using plant fibers to make fishing nets and the emergence of social complexity on the coast of Peru. Rather than because of any significant advantages in quality, it was the potential for increased quantities of production, inherent in the shift from gathered wild Asclepias bast fibers to cultivated cotton, that inadvertently precipitated revolutionary social change. Thereby refined, the MFAC hypothesis duly emerges more persuasive than ever.
Maritime Foundations of Andean Civilization, Preceramic Period, south coast Peru, complex society, Broad Spectrum Revolution, cotton, plant bast fibers, fishing nets
We thank the members of the One River Project including Agathe Dupeyron, Vincent Haburaj, Oliver Huamán, Leidy Santana, and Fraser Sturt; the Ministerio de Cultura del Perú for granting permission for archaeological fieldwork (under Resoluciones Directorales No. 933-2012-DGPC-VMPCIC/ MC, 19 December 2012, No. 386-2014-DGPA-VMPCIC/MC, 22 August 2014, and No. 290-2015-DGPAVMPCIC/MC, 17 July 2015) and the export of samples for dating; the director of the Museo Regional de Ica Susana Arce; don Alberto Benavides Ganoza and the people of Samaca for facilitating fieldwork; the Leverhulme Trust (grant number RPG-117); the late Don Alberto Benavides de la Quintana (grant number RG69428); and the NERC Radiocarbon facility (grant number NF/2013/2/2) for funding.
Leverhulme Trust (RPG-117)
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External DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10816-017-9341-3
This record's URL: https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/264997
Attribution 4.0 International, Attribution 4.0 International, Attribution 4.0 International, Attribution 4.0 International
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