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Molecular features of organic matter in anthropogenic earthen mounds, canals and lagoons in the Pago Lindo archaeological complex (Tacuarembó, Uruguayan lowlands) are controlled by pedogenetic processes and fire practices

AuthorsKaal, Joeri CSIC ORCID ; Gianotti, Camila CSIC ; Puerto, Laura del; Criado-Boado, Felipe CSIC ORCID ; Rivas, Mercedes
KeywordsSouth America
Lowland archaeology
Earthen mounds
Site formation processes
Soil organic matter
Degradation/preservation dynamics
Issue DateAug-2019
PublisherElsevier BV
CitationJournal of Archaeological Science: Reports 26: 01900 (2019)
AbstractThe Pago Lindo site in the River Plate basin (Uruguay) is an important pre-hispanic mound settlement (ca. 3000–600 BP), of which the technologically and socially advanced nature have only recently been revealed. Different angles of pedogenetic and palaeo-ecological science are rapidly improving our understanding of the history of the site and the relationships between human activity and habitat alteration. Here we add to this progress by molecular characterization of soil organic matter (SOM) in anthropogenic earthen mounds, canals and lagoons from Pago Lindo, by pyrolysis-GC–MS. The results showed that the SOM in the earthen mound and the archaeological lagoon are composed of microbial (partially chitin), aliphatic (partially root-derived) and pyrogenic (from fireplaces or wildfires) materials, whereas the canal and younger lagoon contained SOM with larger proportions of relatively intact plant remains (lignin and polysaccharides from herbaceous species). In most systems, a clear degradation trend can be observed with increasing depth –either from intact plant remains to microbial tissues (canal, young lagoon), or from microbial tissues to recalcitrant aliphatic and pyrogenic sources (earthen mound, ancient lagoon)– which is indicative of a strong control of decay intensity on SOM composition. Multivariate statistics confirmed that most variability in pyrolysis fingerprints can be attributed to degradation/preservation dynamics, which probably erased most of the molecular information on habitat development under the influence of past societies, including nearby maize cultivation.
Publisher version (URL)
Identifiersdoi: 10.1016/j.jasrep.2019.101900
issn: 2352-409X
Appears in Collections:(INCIPIT) Artículos

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