Andean civilization was predicated on the development of human physiologic adaptation to challenging high-mountain environments and a cultural system that acquired and distributed diverse resources from vertically stacked ecological zones. Recent investigations in southern Peru suggest that these classic Andean features emerged long before the advent of complex societies and perhaps were characteristics of the first known inhabitants of the high Andes. I will discuss ongoing work at Cuncaicha rockshelter (4480 m elevation) and other sites, focused on understanding the timing and process of human colonization and adaptation to high altitude. The discovery of multiple human and dog burials in Cuncaicha provides an opportunity to examine Andean genetics, morphology, pathology and stress, diet, and mobility through time.
Kurt Rademaker, Northern Illinois University