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Title: Troubled waters : maritime cultures of the Andean fjords
Author: Curry, P. J.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 1999
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The cultures of the fjord region of the southern end of South America have long been considered among the most primitive and mobile in the world, in contrast to maritime societies at high latitudes elsewhere. The purpose of this study was to re-examine this image by means of ethnohistorical documents and archaeological field work. After analyzing historical records I argue that the region did not remain isolated from the effects of European invasion of the continent, as has long been thought. Although colonies were not established there until the 19th century, the effects of colonization were felt soon after the arrival of the Spanish in the 15th century. Scholars who visited in later centuries observed the results of profound social disruption but interpreted the primitive conditions they witnessed in terms of prevailing anthropological theory, assuming that they were observing pristine societies. I assert here that the post-contact culture bore little relationship to earlier populations. The study describes archaeological field work at the village of Puerto Edén and the adjacent Messier Channel that was focused on two issues: 1) the conventional assumption that the aboriginal populations were extremely nomadic; 2) the possibility of recent change, implied by re-examination of historical records. A survey of 80 km of the coast indicate that there was a greater concentration of sites at specific locations than would be expected from the ethnographic model of frequent movement by individual family units. There was also a differentiation in site location pattern, with most sites found bordering the outer channel, except at Pto. Edén where the inner bay was also occupied. Two shell middens were trenched to collect basic information on chronology and material assemblage, as well as to compare inner and outer locations. Radiocarbon dates indicated a 2000 year occupation in the area, and excavation showed changes in faunal remains are artifact assemblage over that period.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available