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Hunter-gatherer plant resource use during the Holocene in central western Patagonia (Aisén, Chile, South America)

P., Carolina Belmar, Méndez, César, Reyes, Omar
Vegetation history and archaeobotany 2017 v.26 no.6 pp. 607-625
archaeobotany, fuels, occupations, steppes, Argentina, Chile
Recent archaeobotanical studies on hunter-gatherer sites in the steppes of central western Patagonia, Chile, reveal new data on the use of plant resources throughout the Holocene, often previously assumed to be unimportant. The plant macroremains from two cave sites, El Chueco 1 (~11,500–180 cal BP) and Baño Nuevo 1 (∼10,800–3,000 cal BP), indicate that hunter-gatherers used locally available plants, of both restricted and extensive distributions, during the entire occupational sequences there. Due to the nature of these remains, we may indirectly infer their potential use as food, food sub-products, for fuel, or for making artefacts. Plant taxa, used as a seasonal indicator, suggest spring-summer occupations in the different periods of time defined for each site. Archaeobotanical data have proven valuable in complementing our view of the subsistence economy of prehistoric Patagonian steppe hunter-gatherer groups, not only by defining the botanical assemblages associated with the occupations, but also by contributing to define seasonality and the mobility strategies related to plant use.