Archaeological silence and ecorefuges: Arid events in the Puna of Atacama during the Middle Holocene

Lautaro Núñez, Isabel Cartajena, Martin Grosjean

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


This paper briefly summarizes presearch concerning the mid-Holocene in the western slope of the puna de Atacama (20-25°S). Proxy data and dates from palynological, limnological, geomorphological archives were compared with data recovered from the archaeological sites in high altitude basins, intermediate ravines and piemontane paleowetlands. Due to exceptionally favorable conditions, numerous Early Holocene archaeological sites were found. In contrast, the lack of occupations in previously populated areas suggests a decline in human activity during the arid mid-Holocene. In this context, two key concepts are introduced: ecorefuge or ecological refuge, and archaeological silence (silencio arqueológico). The first refers to the particular favorable locations occupied by human groups during the mid-Holocene. The second provides a better understanding about the impact of the arid interval during this period on human adaptations in the most barren territories of the New World.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5-13
Number of pages9
JournalQuaternary International
StatePublished - Sep 12 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We acknowledge the organizers of the Taller de Arqueología del NOA: Poblaciones humanas y ambientes durante el Holoceno Medio for the invitation to present the results of our research, supported by Project Fondecyt 1930022, Fondecyt 1020316 and Project NGS -5836-96.

Copyright 2013 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


Dive into the research topics of 'Archaeological silence and ecorefuges: Arid events in the Puna of Atacama during the Middle Holocene'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this