By William J. Schull (auth.), William J. Schull, Francisco Rothhammer (eds.)

South America's Andean highlands have noticeable the increase and decline of a number of remarkable, indigenous civilizations. Separated a little bit in time and position, every one constructed its specific socio-cultural accouterments yet all shared a necessity to regulate to the person, societal and environmental barriers imposed via existence at excessive altitude. Partial oxygen strain, temperature and humidity fall systematically as altitude rises, yet there are different adjustments besides. Darwin, Forbes, von Humboldt, von Tschudi and different naturalists of the eighteenth and 19th centuries who weaved their method via South the US commented many times at the tolerance or obvious indifference of the indigenes to the trials of existence at altitudes above 3000 meters yet its impression upon lowlanders. Von Tschudi (1847), for instance, saw 'in the cordillera the impact of the reduced atmospheric strain at the human body indicates itself in insupportable signs of weariness and an severe trouble of respiring . . . . the 1st indicators are typically felt on the elevation of 12,600 ft (3800 m) above the ocean. those indicators are vertigo, dimness of sight and listening to, pains within the head and nausea . . . . population of the coast and Europeans, who for the 1st time stopover at the lofty areas of the cordillera, tend to be attacked with this illness. ' yet von Tschudi's description of acute mountain ailment used to be rarely the 1st; his Spanish predecessors had recognized and commented upon it too.

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Extra info for The Aymara: Strategies in Human Adaptation to a Rigorous Environment

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The average number of yearly months with a rainfall deficit rises with altitude along the western slope of the central Andes (Figure 1), producing a gradient from the dry and warm desert on the Pacific coast to the moist and cold Puna. 1% at the limit of the Atacama desert to 70% at about 4000 meters. , 1982; see Figure 3a). It is clear that dryness 22 SPOTORNO AND VELOSO * ~.. Centra I ::: "". "':1 45 '·0. "«0 "o.! e. eo " ierra .. (~ ; ". o '. 0. • : * FIGURE 2. Distribution of dried plant formations in South America.

Finally, one major consequence of the uplift was colder conditions that enhanced the effects of glaciation. These factors, briefly introduced in Chapter 1, will be further considered more extensively here in relation to their specific biological effects. As previously stated, the altiplano can be characterized as a cold, arid and barren plateau formed between the two cordilleras, a part of the large northwest-southeast dry diagonal crossing South America (see Figure 1) and having more than eight yearly months of water deficit (Burgos, 1979).

33 William 1. ), The Aymara: Strategies in Human Adaptation to a Rigorous Environment, 33-44. ©1990 by Kluwer Academic Publishers. 34 SCHULL, RAZMILIC, FIGUEROA, AND GONZALEZ As these rivers and streams of the interior of the north to which we have alluded flow coastward, it is now known that they accumulate a heavy burden of metals, many noxious. Arsenic, boron, copper, lithium, sodium, and potassium are common constituents and may themselves contribute to ill-health in this region. S. 05 ppm.

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