chapter  2
32 Pages

Camelids, land and water in the South-Central Andes

In this chapter, I examine how the term ‘domestication’ has been used, with reference to the archaeological literature and the South American camelids. Following this, the camelids themselves are presented to the reader, and the social organization of the wild camelids is examined. In this chapter, social organization refers to the spatial and temporal organization of individual animals within a population of guanacos or vicuñas with respect to one another. This discussion forms the necessary contrast with Chapter 3, which deals with the incorporation of herd animals into cultural life in Isluga. The present chapter ends by considering the terrain that the South American camelids inhabit. At first I attempt to present a perspective that focuses on the use the herd animals make of their land. Then I shift to a human perspective, based on a discussion of the geographical literature and on my observations derived from fieldwork in Isluga. Access to adequate supplies of pasture is of utmost importance for ensuring abundant fleece in camelids, and the theme connecting water, pasture and fleece is considered in the course of this and the following two chapters.