Date of Award


Level of Access

Campus-Only Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Interdisciplinary Program


Daniel H. Sandweiss

Second Committee Member

Daniel F. Belknap

Third Committee Member

Richard L. Burger


This interdisciplinary thesis presents results from field and laboratory investigations of archaeological sites in a ~150-km coast-highland corridor in southern Peru, aimed at better understanding the Terminal Pleistocene biogeographic expansion of humans into the high-altitude Andes and possible early coast-highland links. I integrated a number of approaches to understand late-glacial landscapes and to locate early hunter- gatherer archaeological sites, including creation of a digital database of archaeological radiocarbon data, geochemical characterization of the Alca obsidian source, quantitative geographic information systems (GIS) predictive modeling, region-level archaeological survey, geophysical surveys, test excavations, and systematic surface collections, and accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) dating of the Cuncaicha rockshelter (4488 m elevation), the highest Pleistocene archaeological site yet discovered in the world. This interdisciplinary work in the high Peruvian Andes has yielded evidence that despite colder temperatures, more extensive glaciers, and low-oxygen conditions, successful human colonization of high-altitude environments began ~12,400-12,000 years ago at the end of the last ice age.


Interdisciplinary in Quaternary Archaeology

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

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