Discovering the Ancient Green Past of Argentina’s Arid Puna Plateau – The change of climate in the Puna region thousands of years ago may have played a key role in the adoption of agriculture by hunter-gatherers.
The arid high Andean Puna plateau in northwest Argentina was much greener thousands of years ago. Climate changes forced the local inhabitants to develop adaptation strategies that could offer lessons for today, researchers say.
“The Puna region was always a desert area. But until about 10,000 years ago, there was greater vegetation coverage and the productive parts were much more abundant, because it rained year-round,” archaeologist Hugo Yacobaccio of the University of Buenos Aires (UBA), told Tierramérica.
But changes that occurred over the space of thousands of years left the Puna region extremely arid.
According to the evidence, one of the factors that played a role was the El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO), a cyclical phenomenon in which the surface temperatures of the equatorial Pacific rise, which has been occurring for at least 3,000 years.
But the period 6000 to 2000 BC was characterized by extremely arid conditions at the planet’s lower latitudes.
“That is when the Sahara Desert was formed in the north of Africa, in an area that was previously savannah,” said Yacobaccio.
The inhabitants had to adapt to the new challenges. “The mobility of groups of hunter- gatherers was reduced and relative population density rose as they grouped around small oases or ecological refuges,” said Marcelo Morales, another archaeologist at UBA.