viernes, 25 de septiembre de 2009

Paleindian Archaeology in Uruguay

Early human settlement on southeast of South America Plain
Rafael Suárez
Museo Nacional de Historia Natural y 
Antropología (Uruguay) Sistema Nacional de Investigadores -ANII
My research interests include Peopling of the Americas, Paleoindian archaeology (South America), lithic technology and hunter-gatherers lifeways. Other focus of my research are the variability design on Paleoindian “fishtail” projectile points assemblages of south cone, flaked stone analysis, raw material procurement, technological organization strategies, mobility and land use of early peoples of Uruguay. I have done fieldwork in Atlantic coast, east and north of Uruguay, Argentina, Brazil and Spain.

Currently, with a team of several specialists I am excavating Locality 1 of the Pay Paso
site, a Paleoindian campsite of 11,000 years old.

Recently, in the northwest plains of Uruguay we have identified prehistoric quarries of raw material on the Arapey formation (volcanic rocks) that includes great concentrations of siliceous lithic resources as translucent agate, chalcedony, five variants of highly silicified sandstone and opal, which were used by late Pleistocene knappers for manufacturing toolstones.
In Uruguay, research on early archaeological localities has not yet developed very far. The fieldwork that our team development has discovered in northern Uruguay seven new early archaeological and palaeontological sites in an area of 25 sq km on the Cuareim River Plains. Pay Paso 0, 1 and 3 are early stratified archaeological localities. Pay Paso 2 and 4 are stratified megamammal sites with Stegomastodon sp., Glyptodon sp., American horse and Pleistocene deer bones records. Pay Paso 5 and 6 are surface archaeological sites with projectile points.
The fieldwork research has revealed Locality 1 of the Pay Paso site are a multicomponent Paleoindian site dates to the Pleistocene-Holocene transition, and presents high archaeological resolution, with three early cultural components between 11,000 to 8,500 yr 14C AP. The oldest cultural component contains large (110 mm long) fluted “fishtail” projectile point and one age of ca. 11,000 yr. BP. The middle cultural component with records of extinct late Pleistocene fauna yielded a new South American Paleoindian point, defined by design and technological features as Pay Paso type. Also present are bifacial performs, blade and bifacial tools and hundreds of debitage remains. Two radiocarbon dates of charcoal sample were dated from this middle cultural component and average 10,300 yr. ago. The youngest component yielded one date of 9700 yr. calBP.
The archaeological data obtained in Pay Paso Locality 1 are encouraging because: 1) two early cultural component for the Pleistocene-Holocene transition has been discovered for east of South America characterized by previously unknown projectile point types and containing formal tools; 2) In these early components we have identified for Uruguay the first occurrences of extinct late Pleistocene fauna (Glyptodon sp. and American horse) associated in situ with human tools and we have confirmed that some species of late Pleistocene fauna possibly survived in the north of Uruguay until the early Holocene times, as in others regions of South America; 3) The Paleoindian period in this geographic region has more variation in cultural, chronological and design diversity of early projectile point types than previously documented.
Currently, the fieldwork on Locality 1 of the Pay Paso site are focus on resolve problems related to microstratigraphy, generate baseline data on the environment change at the late Pleistocene and Holocene times, produce new radiocarbon dates by AMS method and define the lithic technology of Paleoindian occupations of the site, to compare them with others Paleoindian lithic assemblages of Pampa-Patagonia of Argentina and south of Brazil.

2008-2009 Principal Investigator “Paleoindian Adaptations at the Subtropical Landscape During Pleistocene-Holocene Transition in Uruguay”. The Wenner-Gren Foundation US, research grant # 7864-08.

2005-2006 Archaeology of the first Americans, survival of Pleistocene fauna and paleoenvironmental change at the Pleistocene-Holocene transition in Uruguay. National Geographic Society, research grant # 7892-05.

2007 Co-Principal Investigator Chronology, Technology, and Ecology of Paleoindian Cultures: Cross-Cultural Comparison of the 30 to 36 degree Northern and Southern Atlantic Latitudes (South Carolina and Uruguay)”. Co-PI with J. Christopher Gillam and Tommy Charles (University of South Carolina, US). R. L. Stephenson Archaeological Research Fund, South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology. University of South Carolina.

2003-2004 Paleoindian Components of the Cuareim River Plains during the Pleistocene-Holocene Transition. Museo Histórico Departamental de Artigas and Junta Autónoma Electiva de Bella Unión.

2000-2002 Stratigraphy and Chronology of the Prehistoric Sites of the Arroyo Catalán Chico and Cuareim River. National Science Foundation of Uruguay (CONICYT), research grant # 5093.


2009 Suárez Rafael
“Unifacial” Fishtail Points and Considerations about the Archaeological Record of South American Paleoamericans. Send to Current Research in the Pleistocene Vol. 26.

2009 Suárez Rafael
Supervivencia de fauna del Pleistoceno en el Norte de Uruguay: Implicancias arqueológicas para la reconstrucción de los cambios climáticos durante la transición Pleistoceno-Holoceno. En Semana de reflexión sobe cambio y variabilidad climática en Uruguay. Editado por Jorge Bossi y Alejandra Ortiz: 63- 76. Facultad de Agronomía Universidad de la República.

2008 Suárez Rafael and Gillam, J. Christopher
The Paleoindian Database of Uruguay: Collections Survey and GIS Data Development. Current Research in the Pleistocene, 25:200-202.

2007 Suárez, Rafael and Rinderknecht, Andrés
First Fossil Records of Characiformes -boga fish- in Uruguay: Evidences Recovered in Pay Paso Site Locality 1, a Paleoamerican Site of South America. Current Research in the Pleistocene, 24:66-68.

2006 Suárez, Rafael
Comments on South American Fishtail Points: Design, Reduction Sequences, and Function. Current Research in the Pleistocene, 23:69–72.
2003 Suárez, Rafael and José M. López
Archaeology of the Pleistocene/Holocene transition in Uruguay: An overview. Quaternary International, Volume 109-110: 65-76.

2003 Suárez, Rafael
First Records of Pleistocene Fauna for an Archaeological Context in Uruguay:Evidences from Pay Paso Locality, Site 1. Current Research in the Pleistocene, 20:113-116. Center for the Study of the First American and Texas A & M University Press.

Do you want to participate in our fieldwork or support others Paleoindian archaeology activities in Uruguay? Please contact us. 

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