Water Harvesters of the Pampa de Mocan, Ancient North Coast, Peru, a talk by Ari Caramanica (Vanderbilt)


Thursday, December 2, 2021, 12:00pm to 1:30pm


Zoom, Please Register

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The north coast of Peru is home to some of the world’s most sophisticated irrigation technology. Many of the canal systems built in the prehispanic period continue to be used today, drawing water from the perennial rivers that descend the neighboring Andes. However, climate change is threatening the reliability of these rivers, drawing new attention to alternative water sources, including ephemeral and intermittent streams (EIS) activated by flood events. Historical case studies point to simple, low-cost agricultural systems built around EIS, however, few data exist to demonstrate the long-term productivity and effects of landscape-scale ‘water harvesting’ infrastructure. The Pampa de Mocan, located on the desert north coast of Peru, is a prehispanic farmland (1100BC-AD1460) that relied in part on El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) floodwaters for irrigation. This presentation will present new directions for research on the role of EIS in early forms of arid-land farming. Archaeological evidence indicates that EIS were highly managed, sediment capture was a central objective of water control technologies, and ancient infrastructure continues to impact the flow and direction of floodwaters today.


Ari Caramanica is a (somewhat…?) recent graduate of this department. Her research focuses on high-risk agriculture, human-environment dynamics, and climate change resilience in ancient South America. She currently holds a AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellowship in the Office of the Director at the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), (US Department of Agriculture). Beginning in Fall 2022, she will join the faculty of Vanderbilt University’s Department of Anthropology.