Veronica Zuccarelli

Postdoctoral Researcher
Department of Archaeology

Main Focus

My research focuses in the pre-Columbian agrarian landscapes in Northwestern Argentina. I combine multiple lines of evidence to understand past land management (phytolith and starch grain analyses, GIS, satellite imaging, soil analyses).

 Currently I seek to understand how camelid herding, agricultural practices, agroforestry and a variety of soil management techniques developed in the scarcely known seasonally dry forests of Northwestern Argentina. Particularly, these developments occurred during climatic fluctuations that pre-Columbian communities faced during the first millennia A.D. Hopefully, these studies will provide useful information to cope with current challenges in these threatened ecosystems.

In line with this, the ultimate aim of my research is the dissemination and public outreach of the  cultural heritage materialized in the pre-Hispanic agrarian landscape in eastern Catamarca (Argentina), as well as the preservation of the ethnobotanical richness present in the region.

Curriculum Vitae

I obtained a PhD in Archaeology from the University of Buenos Aires (Argentina) in 2020, which focused on the study of agricultural practices in the southernmost Amazonian dominion in Northwestern Argentina (El Alto-Ancasti mountain range, Catamarca). The research involved large scale GIS and satellite imaging modelling, as well as phytolith and starch analyses in agricultural terraces, residential sites and artifact assemblages. 

 Formerly, I obtained my undergraduate degree in Anthropological Sciences (focused in Archaeology) and a professor degree in Anthropological Sciences in the University of Buenos Aires.   Before starting the PhD research, I worked as a GIS consultant in the Ministry of Agriculture (Argentina) and as a professor in several undergraduate seminars. My PhD studies were funded by the CONICET (National Scientific and Technical Research Council, Argentina), and the DAAD (Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst) supported two research stays at the MPI in 2017 and 2021.

 I am currently a postdoc researcher in the IRES-CONICET (Institute of Regional Social Studies-University of Catamarca, National Scientific and Technical Research Council, Argentina), and as part of a bilateral DAAD-CONICET cooperation program (co-directed by Dr. Patrick Roberts) I am pursuing further soil analyses (e.g. biomarkers) to tackle past land management in Northwestern Argentina. 


Journal articles

Zuccarelli Freire, V.Meléndez, A. S.Rodriguez Oviedo, M., & Quesada, M. N. 2021Erosion control in Prehispanic agrarian landscapes from Northwestern Argentina: El Alto-Ancasti Highlands case study (Catamarca, Argentina)Geoarchaeology1– 22

Zuccarelli Freire, V., Roberts, P., Meléndez, A.S., Tromp, M., Quesada, M. 2021. Managing environmental diversity in the eastern foothills of the Andes: Pre-Columbian agrarian landscapes in the El Alto-Ancasti mountain range. World Archaeology. IN PRESS

Gheco, l., Zuccarelli Freire, V.; Meléndez, s.; Quesada, M .2020. El otro arte rupestre de El Alto-Ancasti: los conjuntos de grabados y su articulación en el paisaje. MUNDO DE ANTES .14(1):111-139. ISSN 2362-325X (Online) 

Quesada,M.,  Zuccarelli Freire, V., Gheco, L., Gastaldi, M., Boscatto, S. 2017. Paisaje y experiencia en Oyola a finales del primer milenio D.C. (Dpto. El Alto, Catamarca). Comechingonia Revista de Arqueologia. Córdoba: Centro de Estudios Históricos "Profesor S. A. Segreti".  20 (2): 13 - 42. ISSN 0326-7911. 

Zuccarelli Freire, V. 2014. Primeras aproximaciones al paisaje agrario del norte de la Sierra El Alto-Ancasti: un análisis multi-escalar. Revista Arqueología.Instituto de Arqueología, Facultad de Filosofía y Letras, Universidad de Buenos Aires. 20: 116 - 141. ISSN 1853-8126.

Vaquer, J.M., Calomino, E. A., Zuccarelli Freire, V. 2010. Habitando Cruz Vinto: Temporalidad y Espacialidad en un pukara del Periodo de Desarrollos Regionales Tardío (1200 - 1450 DC) en el Norte de Lípez (Potosí, Bolivia). Revista Arqueología. Instituto de Arqueología, Facultad de Filosofia y Letras, UBA. 16: 13 -33. ISSN 0870-2306.


Zuccarelli Freire, V. 2012 Arqueología de los paisajes agrarios Surandinos: aplicación de los SIG en el análisis de la problemática agraria en Catamarca oriental. Berlín: Editorial Académica Española. 2012. ISBN. 978-3-659- 02011-7

Book chapters

Gordillo, I., Eguía, L., Zuccarelli Freire, V. 2017. Las casas del sol naciente. Arqueología de la vertiente oriental de El Alto - Ancasti. In: Arqueología de la Vertiente oriental Surandina Interacción macro-regional, materialidades, economía y ritualidad (Ventura, B., Ortiz, G., Cremonte, B., Eds). Sociedad Argentina de Antropología. Pp. 111 - 131. ISBN 978-987-1280-32-2


Research Projects    

“Management and conservation of agropastoral landscapes on the edge of the Andes during the last two millennia. An interdisciplinary approach”. Bilateral Cooperation Program funded by the DAAD directed by Dr. Patrick Roberts (MPI) and Dr. Enrique Moreno - CONICET (National Scientific and Technical Research Council, Argentina).here

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