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Chungará (Arica)

On-line version ISSN 0717-7356

Abstract

NUNEZ, Lautaro; GROSJEAN, Martín  and  CARTAJENA, Isabel. SEQUENTIAL ANALYSIS OF HUMAN OCCUPATION PATTERNS AND RESOURCE USE IN THE ATACAMA DESERT. Chungará (Arica) [online]. 2010, vol.42, n.2, pp.363-391. ISSN 0717-7356.  http://dx.doi.org/10.4067/S0717-73562010000200003.

This paper presents a chronological sequence of human occupation from the end of the Pleistocene to the present day in the Atacama Desert, one of the most barren territories of the New World. The occupational sequence covers a period of 11,000 years of prehistory, in which distinct patterns of resource use are examined such as hunting, fishing and gathering techniques, animal domestication, agriculture, animal husbandry, mining, commerce and trade. The study also incorporales innovations based on industrial scale mining developments in colonial times, the 19th century industrial period and the present day (extractive mega projects). A variety of cultural, technological and productive developments are discussed in relation to continuity and shifts in human occupations and their impact on the spatial distribution of the population in different locations from the Andes to the Pacific. A marked imbalance can be observed between traditional natural resource production and extractive mining activities that lead to extreme ecological fragility due to the indiscriminate use of water resources. The paper suggests that sustainable development is being jeopardised by the lack of research and alternative models, coupled with a lack of coherence among political, scientific and ethical discourses.

Keywords : Atacama Desert; prehistoric and historie human occupations; natural resource use; productive innovations.

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