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Hunter-gatherer adaptation in the deserts of northern Patagonia

Franchetti, Fernando (2019) Hunter-gatherer adaptation in the deserts of northern Patagonia. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This research focuses on land use and risk management by hunter-gatherers in the Diamante valley, northern Patagonia, Argentina, across three ecological zones: the Highlands, the Piedmont, and the Lowlands. I also explore how site structure differed within these ecological zones, how mobility was used to manage the heterogeneous distribution of resources, and how ceramics were used in the context of high residential mobility. To determine the differences in land use, the fieldwork for this research involved a systematic random sample of surface deposits from 400 one-hectare units within a 100 km2 area in each ecological zone, followed by lithic and ceramic analysis of the materials recovered.
The Piedmont contains the highest density of human activity, followed by the Highlands, and then the Lowlands. In the Lowlands, the relative absence of evidence for human activity suggests this was an inhospitable place for people to live. In both the Piedmont and the Highlands, larger sites close to water courses and to raw materials were occupied repeatedly. Across the region, the most common raw material was basalt, followed by cryptocrystalline, and then obsidian. Chipped stone implements and fragments in the Highlands were smaller than in the other areas. In the Highlands, the most abundant camps were of medium size, possibly located and organized to support logistical foraging trips to acquire resources in a patchier environment. Ceramics were more abundant in the Highlands, but required only minimal investment suggesting they were used for only short periods of time. In addition to ceramics, obsidian was also more important in the Highlands than it was in the Piedmont. I examine how patterns of human mobility complement the use of resources across different ecological zones, nothing that the Piedmont, which is accessible all year round, was used the most. These findings contribute to our understanding of the diversity of evolutionary trajectories of small-scale groups in marginal environments by the use of a variety of adaptive strategies.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairBarton, Loukas
Committee MemberDrennan, Robert
Committee MemberBermann, Marc
Committee MemberBorrero, Luis
Date: 25 September 2019
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 18 April 2019
Approval Date: 25 September 2019
Submission Date: 7 August 2019
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 228
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Anthropology
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Hunter-gatherers, Adaptation, northen Patagonia, Risk management, Distributional archaeology
Date Deposited: 25 Sep 2019 20:02
Last Modified: 25 Sep 2019 20:02


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