Desde hace varios milenios, quienes poblaban estas tierras  consumieron algarrobo, chañar, molle, piquillín además de distintos tipos de cactus y bulbos. De estas últimas se consume el fruto en fresco, mientras que del algarrobo, chañar y molle se procesaba el fruto para obtener una harina con la cual se elaboraba una especie de pasta “pan” que dejaban secar al sol.

Estas son algunas de las conclusiones a las que arribó un grupo de investigadores del Museo de Historia Natural de San Rafael abocado al estudio del uso del algarrobo. Estos estudios pueden servir para mejorar el entendimiento de las estrategias humanas en estos ambientes y también pueden ser un aporte para revalorizar los recursos nativos.

Los primeros resultados de esta investigación fueron presentados en las Cuartas  Jornadas Cuyanas de Arqueología, realizadas en Mendoza.

 

Por qué estudiar el algarrobo

Uno de los aspectos más importantes en el conocimiento de las sociedades humanas prehistóricas es el estudio de su subsistencia. Numerosas investigaciones revelan que gran parte de las poblaciones que vivieron en nuestra provincia eran grupos de cazadores-recolectores y agricultores que incluían en su subsistencia la caza de animales y la recolección de distintos tipos de plantas.

Las plantas constituyeron un recurso esencial entre los grupos humanos del sur de Mendoza, y es por eso que es necesario conocer en profundidad las características alimenticias de las mismas. El Algarrobo, particularmente, es un recurso vegetal con alto valor económico y social, incluso en la actualidad. En ese marco, investigadores del Museo de Historia Natural, dependiente de la Municipalidad de San Rafael, están estudiando las formas en que esta planta fue usada por nuestros antiguos pobladores.

El objetivo principal de estos estudios es conocer la importancia que tuvieron las plantas para los antiguos pobladores locales, que importancia tuvieron en la dieta humana y cómo su uso pudo haber cambiado a lo largo del tiempo.

 En esta primera etapa los estudios encarados por el doctor Andrew Ugan, y las licenciadas Carina Llano, Alejandra Guerci y Clara Otaola incluyen dos líneas conectadas de investigación: experimentaciones con el uso de las plantas y estudios químicos para conocer las propiedades del algarrobo. Los estudios químicos enfocan, entre otras cosas, el aporte de proteínas, vitaminas y carbohidratos que éstas tienen y cuáles de ellas son las que proporcionan más nutrientes a la dieta humana. Esta información servirá de base para entender la presencia de restos de plantas en los sitios arqueológicos y también generarán datos actuales para el manejo de nuestros montes de algarrobo.

La experimentación generará información necesaria para conocer qué tipo de procesamiento necesitan antes de ser consumidas y cuánto  tiempo se invierte en el mismo. En este sentido el equipo está realizando estudios experimentales en lo que se procesan utilizando técnicas aborígenes, como ser morteros y molinos de piedra.
Las investigaciones están siendo desarrolladas por investigadores del CONICET y los análisis de composición nutricional lo están realizando en el CETyA de la Facultad de Ciencias Aplicadas a la Industria (UNCuyo).

(SRNoticias)

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