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Institute of Archaeology

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Catalina Maria Contreras Mira

Catalina Maria Contreras Mira

Lithic technology and raw material economy in the steppe of Central-Western Patagonia

 

Email: catalina.mira.14@ucl.ac.uk
Section: Archaeological Sciences

Supervisors:

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Lithic technology and raw material economy in the steppe of Central-Western Patagonia

This PhD research project studies lithic assemblages from the upper portions of two valleys in western Patagonia, in the Chilean region of Aysén: Cisnes and Ñirehuao. A comparative technological and raw material analysis aims to explain how the occupation of these valleys was organised. This will lead to a characterization of the lifestyle of hunter-gatherers in this part of Patagonia, and the extent to which it changed or remained the same during the 10,000 plus years of indigenous occupation of the area.

The peopling of America is a significant research interest for archaeologists around the globe, as are the social and economic structure of these first American societies. These issues remain a topic of discussion, and are the focus of several research projects across South America, including the Patagonian region. In this context, the Cisnes and Ñirehuao river valleys are exceptional because of the presence of the sites Baño Nuevo-1 and Baño Nuevo-15, key sites to understanding the prehistory of central-western Patagonia with broader implications to South America, since they yield some of the earliest evidence of human presence, including the earliest human burials in Patagonia. Despite this, the lithic components of these sites have never been systematically studied.

The technological study of these assemblages will provide significant information regarding the use of stone-tools in Aysén, during a time-span of over 10,000 years. In addition, raw materials will be studied in the context of hunter-gatherer land use.

The chief aim of this research is to characterise the organization of the human occupation of the steppe of Central-Western Patagonia, based on lithic technology and raw material economy. It also aims to contribute to the understanding of a number of relevant issues of American prehistory, including the cultural and economic structure of the first as well as later American hunter-gatherer societies, the colonization and long-term occupation of extreme environments and the overall interpretation of hunter-gatherer archaeological sites.

Funding

Becas Chile, CONICYT

Education

    • Bachelor in Anthropology with a Major in Archaeology, Universidad de Chile, 2008.
    • Professional Degree (Honours) in Archaeology, Universidad de Chile, 2012. Degree thesis: Hunter-gatherers in the Andean steppe of Aysen: lithic resource management and spatial organization during the Late Holocene.
    Publications

    Journal Publications

    Contreras, C. 2012. Tecnología lítica en la cuenca del río Jeinemeni: análisis de material superficial. Boletín de la Sociedad Chilena de Arqueología 41/42:29-41.

    Fuentes-Mucherl, F., F. Mena, J. Blanco y C. Contreras. 2012. Excavaciones en Alero Gianella, curso medio del valle de Chacabuco (Andes centro patagónicos). Magallania 40(2):259-266.

    Contreras, C., Méndez, C. y Reyes, O. 2016. Gestión de recursos líticos y organización espacial de cazadores recolectores en la estepa de los valles de Cisnes y Simpson, región de Aysén, Chile. Magallania 44(1):167-185.

    Book Chapters

    Fuentes, F. y C. Contreras. 2010. Espacios fúnebres en el holoceno medio costero de la Región de Coquimbo, Chile: Asociaciones líticas y óseas, como medios de aproximación a un mundo vivido. In: Tradiciones de tierra y mar: antiguos pescadores, mariscadores y cazadores del semiárido. Fuentes, F; M. Biskupovic; J. Castelleti y M. P. Retamales. (Editors). pp. 65-88. Andros Impresores, Santiago, Chile.

    Other Publications

    Contreras, C. 2012. Hunter-gatherers in the Andean steppe of Aysen: lithic resource management and spatial organization during the Late Holocene. Unpublished Professional Degree Dissertation, Universidad de Chile. Santiago.

    Contreras, C. 2012. Hunter-gatherers in the Andean steppe of Aysen: lithic resource management and spatial organization during the Late Holocene. Unpublished Professional Degree Dissertation, Universidad de Chile. Santiago.

    Conference papers

    Refereed and Published In Extenso

    Méndez, C., O. Reyes, A. Nuevo Delaunay y C. Contreras 2010. Criterios para evaluar ocupaciones tempranas en sitios arqueológicos superficiales, Aisén norte, Chile. In: Arqueología argentina en el Bicentenario de la Revolución de Mayo, Volume I, pp. 85-90, Mendoza, Argentina 2010.

    Fuentes-Mucherl, F., M. Biskupovic, L. Frías, M.P. Retamales y C. Contreras 2010. Cazadores-recolectores del Holoceno Medio y Tardío en el extremo septentrional del semiárido de la región de Coquimbo, Chile. In: Arqueología argentina en el Bicentenario de la Revolución de Mayo, Volume I, pp. 327-332, Mendoza, Argentina 2010.

    Contreras, C. 2015. Ocupación holocénica tardía de la estepa de Aysén Centro Norte: conclusiones y perspectivas a partir del análisis de conjuntos líticos hallados en los valles altos de los ríos Cisnes y Simpson. In: Actas del XIX Congreso Nacional de Arqueología Chilena, pp. 527-532, Arica 2012.

    Other Presentations

    Contreras, C. y C. Méndez. 2010. Cazadores recolectores en la estepa aisenina: resultados preliminares de las investigaciones en sitios a cielo abierto en Alto Cisnes. III Jornadas de Investigación del Departamento de Antropología de la Universidad de Chile, San Felipe, Chile.

    Contreras, C. 2014. Obsidian sourcing analysis in Central-South Patagonia (southernmost South America). "Lunch in the Lab" Archaeological Sciences Section lunchtime series. Institute of Archaeology, University College London. London, United Kingdom.

    Contreras, C. 2017. Piedras como instrumentos: tecnología y materias primas entre los cazadores-recolectores de la estepa aisenina. "Mate y Ciencia" series, organised by Centro de Investigación en Ecosistemas de la Patagonia (CIEP). Coyhaique, Chile.