Ancient Bifacial Tools in Argentina
These last few days I have been reading about the native cultures of Northern Argentina, focusing on the Kakan or Diaguita peoples of the valleys of the Andean and Puna foothills. These people were nearly exterminated in a 100 year long war with the Spaniard conquerors (1580 - 1680) known as the Calchaquí Wars.
They lived in the Abaucán, Belén, Calchaquí and Santa María River valleys, in Salta, La Rioja and Catamarca provinces
My reading focused on the Santa María River Valley in Catamarca Province (which is the southern branch of the Calchaquí River Valley in Salta Province), the Santa María or Yokavil Valley. Below is a map of the area, centered on Ampajango
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It is an interesting region, since it has been inhabited for several thousand years. Its people were farmers who grew corn under irrigation -the area is very dry- and bred llama for food and wool.
The Spaniards were the last "invaders" starting in 1535. Just before them, the Inca Empire had occupied the region between 1470 and 1535, and the ruins of their forts dot the valley. By the way, nowadays you can get great wines grown in this region in the highest vines in the world, above 3.100 m altitude (10.165 ft.).
But this is deviating me from my point. It is also home to one of the most ancient stone age cultures of Argentina: the Ampajango Culture. The image of a bifacial stone ax drew my attention (see image below):
Primitive hand axes
The hand ax looks incredibly primitive and is "preceramic" (predates any ceramic remains in the region), no bones, carbon remains or other materials have been recovered at the site to allow an exact dating of the stone tools, but as I mentioned in a previous post: Calico remains proof of homo erectus in America, these hand axes are a sure indication of the ancient peopling of America since it is characteristic of the Acheulian lithic tradition developed by Homo erectus in Africa.
The area also has some rock art: engraved in stone (petroglyphs) date unknown.
Of course the papers quoted below don't go to the extreme of assigning them H. erectus age or origin, they do contend however that they are among the oldest remains in Argentina (and being orthodox) don't age them beyond the Clovis period.
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