Eating the Valley: a Paleoethnobotanical Investigation of Local Food Use and Identity in the Cinti Valley, Bolivia in the Late Intermediate Period

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The Cinti Valley is located in southern Bolivia and has been occupied for at least 9,000 years, with an intensification in settlement starting around 800 years ago. The region was first surveyed in the 1990s, and in 1994, two sites, Palca Chica and El Porvenir, were excavated to investigate the chronology of the Cinti Valley. Rivera Casanovas (2004) proposed that the sites in the Cinti valley formed a three-tier site hierarchy, with a capital, local centers like El Porvenir, and small villages like Palca Chica. To study how these processes impacted food and plant use in the Cinti Valley, I sorted 17 flotation samples collected from Palca Chica and 21 from El Porvenir by Rivera Casanovas and Michel (1995). To analyze these samples, I compared the assemblages of Palca Chica and El Porvenir to study the difference between a small village and a local center, finding more local foods such as Trichocereeae (cacti), Portulaca spp., and Amaranthus spp. at El Porvenir and more Andean staple foods like corn and quinoa at Palca Chica. Additionally, to understand how plant use in the Cinti Valley compares to the rest of the Andes, in the highlands and lowlands, I compared the results to those of other Andean paleoethnobotanical studies. I found that the Cinti Valley sites had a much greater focus on local foods than traditional Andean staples compared to the other sites, suggesting that the residents of Palca Chica and El Porvenir developed their own local diets and identities.

Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
Andean archaeology, Identity, Late Intermediate Period, Paleoethnobotany