Pedosedimentary, cultural and environmental significance of palaeosols within Pre-Hispanic agricultural terraces in the southern Peruvian Andes
Kemp, R. A., Branch, N. P., Silva, B., Meddens, F., Williams, A., Kendall, A. and Pomacanchari, C. V. (2006) Pedosedimentary, cultural and environmental significance of palaeosols within Pre-Hispanic agricultural terraces in the southern Peruvian Andes. Quaternary International, 158. pp. 13-22. ISSN 1040-6182
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1016/j.quaint.2006.05.013
Paleosols were exposed in sections through four abandoned pre-Hispanic agricultural terraces surrounding an infilled mire basin in the southern Peruvian Andes. The two paleosols beneath the Tocotoccasa terrace represent the original ‘natural’ solum and a later soil formed after construction of the agricultural terrace, probably during the early Middle Horizon cultural period (615–695 AD). The soil at the current surface developed subsequent to the building up and reconstruction of the terrace, possibly during the late Late Intermediate period (1200–1400 AD). Micromorphology revealed an unexpected abundance of clay coatings within the upper terrace paleosol and surface terrace soil, a phenonemon attributed to the migration and/or accumulation of neoformed clay produced from the weathering of very unstable volcanic clasts, perhaps fuelled by arid/humid climatic oscillations and/or seasonal input of irrigation waters. The paleosols at Tocotoccasa could not be correlated with any degree of confidence with those beneath the other three terraces due to differences in pedosedimentary properties and uncertainties over chronological controls. Thus, it seems likely that either the terraces were (re)constructed and utilised over different cultural periods or that there is significant variation in the extent of weathering of material used for reconstruction of the terraces. Unfortunately, it cannot be ascertained from the data available whether the terraces were abandoned for any significant period of time prior to reconstruction and, if so, whether this was a regional phenomenon related to climate, social, or economic changes.