Cueva del Medio: A Paleoindian site and its environmental setting in Southern South America

Hugo G. Nami, Calvin J. Heusser
Año de la publicación: 
2 015
Archaeological Discovery, 2015, 3, 62-71
This article reports the results of the palynological analysis obtained from one of the archaeological profiles exposed at Cueva del Medio, a Paleoindian site located at the southern tip of South America (Ultima Esperanza, Chile). The earliest occupation is located over a sand layer which follows the natural slope of the sedimentological matrix of the cave. The findings of this level are significant, as they demonstrate a clear Paleoindian context, linking humans with extinct fauna. Based on the palynological analysis and previous results obtained in the region, the environmental setting of Cueva del Medio is described. Paleoindian occupations of the cave, estimated to date from approximately 11 - 10 kya, may have taken place at about the time of initial, albeit ephemeral, Nothofagus expansion. Climate becoming more mesic was evidently transitory, and possibly favored some development of arboreal communities. Summer drought for a time afterward, in turn, was less favorable to the spread of trees, as inferred by the successive prevalence of steppe.