Josie Handley

I graduated with a BSc in Environmental Science from the University of Reading in 2015 having completed a dissertation looking for evidence of pre-Columbian agriculture in the Llanos de Moxos Region of the Bolivian Amazon using paleo-fire records. This sparked my interest in the interactions between people and the environment in the past and led me to undertake an MSc in Environmental Archaeology at the University of Reading in 2016. During my masters, I worked on a dissertation of a similar theme to that of my undergraduate, but this time focusing on the Peruvian Andes region. My research examined the relationship between the environment and late-Holocene societal changes in the Andes, with a specific focus on the levels of human land use in association with agriculture and metalworking in the Chicha-Soras Valley. Through this I also evaluated my results in respect to the present and future concerns of the effect of climate change on farming communities in the region. Having completed my MSc dissertation I decided there was potential to explore the topic further in the form of a PhD project.

As part of my PhD, funded by the Arts and Humanities research Council (AHRC), I hope to test the resilience and sustainability of traditional irrigated agricultural systems to both periods of intensive human activity and of climatic change throughout the late-Holocene and to assess the implications of this to food security at present day. I aim to do this through a combined archaeological, palaeoecological and ethnographical approach using a suit of proxies including phytoliths, pollen, non-pollen palynomorphs and charcoal. These will be sourced from lake records within the Sacred Valley near Machu Picchu and at Marcapomacocha, nearer to Lima and within the Chillón Valley. It is hoped, by studying these two regions, there will be an opportunity to compare agricultural systems and their communities (past and present) within two contrasting climatic zones; humid subtropics of the Sacred Valley and the cold semi-arid region of Marcapomacocha.

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