Distributional archeology and human biogeography in an Andean-Patagonian landscape

Resumen:
The objective of our research presented here is to study the spatial organization of mobile societies from Patagonia. In particular, we focus on a region characterized by sharp contrasts in topography, climate, and ecology (Barrancas-Buta Ranquil Locality, Neuquen Province, Argentina). We begin by analyzing the biogeographic structure of the landscape, presenting a GIS-based model of seasonally available resources. Our approach combines systematic surface survey with the analysis of evidence produced by other sampling strategies, such as excavation and rock art analysis. Based on the spatial distribution of lithic and ceramic artifacts and rock art motifs, we characterize patterns of occupational intensity, functional diversity, and information flow in areas with different biogeographic properties. The results suggest a functional delimitation of space, which operates in an averaged temporal scale, where the areas of intermediate altitude would have been used as central places from where the use of other areas was articulated. Because our sampling unit captures biogeographic variation that is widely expressed, this model of spatial organization would be useful for the archaeology of northwestern Patagonia at large.

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