The Archeological Landscape of the Chanchán Basin and Its Agroecological Legacies for the Conservation of Montane Forests in the Western Foothills of the Ecuadorian Andes

Christiam Paúl Aguirre Merino, Raquel Piqué Huerta, Lady Nathaly Parra Ordoñez, Verónica Alexandra Guamán Cazho, Walter Oswaldo Valdez Bustamante

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Abstract

This article shows a set of agroecological practices that were incorporated into the archeological landscape of the Chanchán basin by pre-Hispanic Kañaris societies for 1200 years (240–1438 AD), a millennium before the arrival of the Incas, and that continue to be used in this landscape by certain indigenous communities of the 21st century. The use of archeobotanical techniques, contrasted with ethnobotanical sources, has allowed us to interpret how these societies structured their cultivation systems, agroecological practices, and landscape management, for the conservation of agroecosystems in the western Andean foothills. Agroecological legacies show how the stability, adaptability, and elasticity of Andean agriculture can be sustained under models of progressive intensification without this causing irreversible environmental damage in the agroecosystems. Kañaris agroecological practices configured the Chanchán landscape as a great cultural artifact, wherein the non-human agency of plants (cultivated and wild) was more than a mere adaptation to the niches culturally constructed by human populations. Non-humans are active subjects in recovering the functional and structural integrity of agroecosystems after a social or ecological disturbance. All this is part of landscape management based on an “Ecological Diversification Model”, where plant species are adapted to the ecotones and ecological floors of the western Andean foothills, to diversify and increase the availability of food crops that are bioculturally appropriate given the present agrobiodiversity.

Translated title of the contributionEl paisaje arqueológico de la cuenca de Chanchán y sus legados agroecológicos para la conservación de los bosques montanos en el piedemonte occidental de los Andes ecuatorianos
Original languageEnglish
Article number192
Pages (from-to)1-37
Number of pages37
JournalLand
Volume12
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jan 2023

Keywords

  • Andean ancient agroecology
  • Andean archeological landscape
  • Chanchán basin landscape
  • Joyagzhí terraces
  • pre-Hispanic agroecological legacies

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