Origins of animal domestication in the Andes

The central Andes is the center of animal domestication in the New World. Llamas, alpacas, and guinea pigs were domesticated in the highlands approximately 6000 years ago. Llamas were primarily beasts of burden and were used to transport goods between communities living at different elevations and producing different crops and other goods. Both alpacas and llamas produce fine wool that is woven into warm garments and utilitarian objects such as bags and ropes. All three domesticates were sacrificed to the gods. Analysis of series of faunal samples from different time periods and elevations were needed to establish the timing and details of the uses of these animal as well as wild animals. A summary of this research is found in a chapter entitled Domestication of Andean mammals by Elizabeth Wing in the 1986 publication High Altitude Tropical Biogeography (Vuilleumier and