Verónica Zuccarelli Freire

Research Associate
Department of Archaeology

Curriculum Vitae

My research is focused on agricultural practices and their historical and contemporary significance in the Andean and circum-Andean region of NW Argentina. My research approach encompasses a multidisciplinary toolkit, which includes archaeobotanical analysis, isotope studies in soils, and spatial modeling of two distinct cases: Cusi Cusi sites in Jujuy, Argentina, dated between 1200 CE and post-colonial times, and El Alto-Ancasti mountain range sites in Catamarca, Argentina, dated between 500 CE and the post-Colonial era.

I obtained both my undergraduate and Ph.D. degrees, complemented by a professorial degree in Anthropological Sciences at the University of Buenos Aires. My expertise extends to the field of Geographic Information Systems (GIS), where I served as a consultant for the Ministry of Agriculture in Argentina. The pivotal phase of my Ph.D. studies was generously funded by the CONICET (National Scientific and Technical Research Council, Argentina), while the DAAD (Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst) supported two enriching research stays at the MPI in 2017 and 2021.

Between 2020 and 2022, I held a postdoctoral research position at the IRES-CONICET (Institute of Regional Social Studies-University of Catamarca), under the aegis of a bilateral DAAD-CONICET cooperation program, co-directed by Dr. Patrick Roberts.

Excitingly, in 2024, I will embark on a Georg Forster Fellowship, generously funded by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. This fellowship will facilitate my project, titled "Ancient Agro-systems as Cultural Heritage: Past and Present Solutions to Climate Change in Arid and Semi-Arid Environments." In this endeavor, I aspire to broaden the scope of heritage, embracing past and present agrarian landscapes and their ecosystem services. This approach aims to recognize and promote more sustainable ways of life in the face of climate change and escalating extractivism in the region. The extensive history of landscape modification in the Andes underscores the value of ancestral knowledge in managing fragile environments. Moreover, as the world's ecosystems grapple with increasing aridification, it is imperative to understand land management in the context of food security crises and other pressing challenges. Notably, indigenous and local communities in NW Argentina confront mounting pressures on their ancestral territories from mining companies seeking to extract lithium and other minerals, a process that consumes substantial quantities of water. While lithium plays a pivotal role as a raw material in the energy transition, it is imperative to consider the socio-environmental impacts associated with its extraction. Our research aims to take local communities needs into account.

Research Projects    

Affiliated researcher isoTROPIC Independent Research 

"Ancient Agro-systems as Cultural Heritage: Past and Present Solutions to Climate Change in Arid and Semi-Arid Environments." , Alexander von Humbolt Foundation

Project leader, PICT-INVI Young Researchers, FONCyT, Argentina. 2023-2025. "La producción de los suelos agrícolas en pastizales cumbrales y selvas transicionales de la ladera oriental de la Sierra El Alto-Ancasti. 1er milenio d.C."

Project member, "Perspectives from the Global South: Archaeological, Historical and Ancestral perspectives from the Global South to navigate the Anthropocene crisis An Assessment Report for the Convention of Parties (COP-30)". ISOtropic group project.

“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). 2021-2023


Journal articles

Meléndez, A.S., Burry, S.,  Palacio,P.,  Trivi, M.E.,   Quesada, M.N.,  Zuccarelli, Freire, V.,   D'Antoni, H. (2023). Ecosystems dynamics and environmental management: An NDVI reconstruction model for El Alto-Ancasti mountain range (Catamarca, Argentina) from 442 AD through 1980 AD. Quaternary Science Reviews, Volume 324, 2024,108450,ISSN 0277-3791

Zuccarelli Freire, V., Meléndez, A. S., Rodriguez Oviedo, M., & Quesada, M. N. 2021. Erosion control in Prehispanic agrarian landscapes from Northwestern Argentina: El Alto-Ancasti Highlands case study (Catamarca, Argentina). Geoarchaeology, 1– 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. 

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

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