Department of Geography and the Environment

Colloquium: Aleksander Borejsza

Fri, March 28, 2014 | CLA 0.128

4:00 PM - 5:00 PM

Colloquium: Aleksander Borejsza

Please join the Department of Geography and the Environment for our Spring 2014 colloquium series. We will be hosting a presentation by  Aleksander Borejsza, Profesor-Investigador de Tiempo Completos at Universidad Autónoma de San Luis Potosí. He will be speaking on the topic of The Human Ecology of the Barrancas of the Mixteca Alta.

The Mixteca Alta is known for its rich prehispanic past and the present poverty and inhospitable appearance of its countryside. The deeply incised streams of the Mixteca, referred to as barrancas, are part of the latter stereotype. They are shunned by most villagers as places that are irrelevant to their current lifeways, and potentially dangerous. The stratigraphic and archaeological record of the past 15,000 years proves that they never flowed in wide unconfined valleys, but also suggests that past populations were singularly attracted to them, and devised means to overcome their ecological limitations. At the end of the Pleistocene barrancas supported wet meadows grazed by the last large herbivores, and may have attracted Paleoindian groups. Archaic hunter-gatherers camped on their floodplains, burnt their vegetation, and likely used them to propagate the first cultivars. Sedentary farmers thoroughly modified their hydrology by means of cross-channel agricultural terraces known as lama-bordos, thousands of which are exposed in cutbanks or preserved in forested areas. The system attained its climax right before Conquest, but vestiges of lama-bordos dated by radiocarbon reach back to the 2nd millennium BC. The macro- and microstratigraphy of terrace fills and of buried cultivation surfaces is revealing how these fields grew, contracted, and changed over time.

This event is free and open to the public. For more information, email Madeline Enos at

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