Geoarchaeological Investigations of the Waynuna Site and the Alca Obsidian Source, Peru

Kurt Rademaker

As of 2002, Degree of Master of Science (MS) Quaternary and Climate Studies published under the auspices of the Climate Change Institute.


This M.S. thesis presents results from field and laboratory investigations of the Alca highland obsidian (volcanic glass) source and Wayñuna, a Preceramic highland archaeological site previously identified close to a geological deposit of Alca obsidian in southern Peru's Cotahuasi Valley. Obsidian artifacts found within Terminal Pleistocene (13,000-11,200) strata at coastal site Quebrada Jaguay (QJ-280) were sourced to the Alca deposit in the Cotahuasi Valley some 155 km distant, suggesting contact between specific coastal and highland locales during the period of earliest settlement of South America. This Quebrada Jaguay-Alca connection suggested that additional, analogous Paleoindian sites should be located near Alca obsidian source deposits. Excavations at Waynuna revealed an intact Terminal Preceramic (ca. 4,000-3,600 cal yr B.P.) occupation, so Wayñuna does not constitute an analogous site to Quebrada Jaguay. This work at Wayñuna, however, offers the first excavated data of a Preceramic settlement in the Cotahuasi Valley, and the analysis of Wayñuna's lithic assemblage reported in this thesis constitutes the first in-depth study of highland Preceramic lithic technology for this region. The Wayñuna assemblage obtained from a limited investigation of a domestic house context is indicative of a systematic and carefully