Midwest Conference on Andean and Amazonian Archaeology and Ethnohistory

March 1, 2014


Abstracts are listed here in order of presentation. All presentations are on
Saturday, March 1, 2014.

John E. Staller & Sergio Chàvez, Central Michigan University
"High Altitude Zea mays L. (Tunqu) Cultivation and Endemism in the Lake Titicaca Basin"

Abstract: Botanists and plant biologists have long maintained that maize is generally restricted to regions below 3200 masl. Recent survey and ethnographic evidence has indicated the abundant presence of maize currently cultivated from 3810 to 4200 masl around Lake Titicaca. This maize landrace represents the highest reported cultivation of maize in the Andes and perhaps the world. Archaeological and ethnobotanical research provides evidence of carbonized maize in food residues of ancient cooking vessels dated to 800 BCE. Interdisciplinary evidence is presented to suggest the original maize landrace in this region is an endemic variety, specifically adapted to microenvironmental conditions created by the evapotranspiration of the lake, which reduces the diurnal variation in temperature to ward off the night frost and to make maize cultivation possible. The extent of cultivation is assessed on the basis of stone-lined terraces at a monumental scale. The phenotypic characteristics of several varieties from 52 sites are presented to assess which variety is endemic from those cross-pollinated with Cuzco varieties for particular characteristics such as kernel size, row number, kernal color, etc. Our evidence indicates the existence of an endemic landrace, and that its cultivation extends back to the formative period Yaya-Mama religious tradition.

Emily Stovel, Ripon College, USA and IIAM-UCN, Chile
"Sigamos Interactuando 2: A Collaborative Workshop on Ancient Ceramics"

Abstract: While we have contributed important models to the understanding of prehistoric interaction, modern scholars of the South-Central Andes are hampered in our interaction by differences in each nation's disciplinary trajectory and economic and academic employment conditions. Any ability to explore common ceramic types and the archaeological themes they speak to brakes in this context of diminished international interaction. In an effort to overcome these impediments, a Wenner Gren-funded multinational workshop on the ancient ceramics of the South-Central Andes was held in Mendoza, Argentina at the end of November in 2013. Over 4 days, 42 ceramic specialists from Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, the US, and Germany developed regional syntheses of the current state of knowledge in their fields to facilitate interaction and collaboration across national borders. This paper reports on the structure and results of the workshop and its ability to move beyond the mutual reporting of completed or ongoing research that characterizes most academic conferences. This encuentro represents a novel and fruitful mechanism for encouraging cross-national collaboration and interaction, suitable to respond to the current grand challenges of archaeology and the social sciences.

Anna Guengerich, University of Chicago
"Architecture and Organization of Chachapoya Settlements: A View from the Site of Monte Viudo"

Abstract: This paper presents an overview of settlement organization and architecture in the Chachapoyas region of northern Peru during the Late Intermediate Period. While these societies are popularly known for their spectacular mummies and the monumental site of Kuèlap, we still lack fundamental knowledge about many of their basic attributes. This paper contributes to our knowledge of ordinary settlements from the perspective of Monte Viudo, a mountaintop village that comprised some three hundred domestic structures and a central ritual sector. Drawing upon the results of recent research, I use this site as a case study from which to examine some of the distinctive attributes of Chachapoya built environments - namely, houses were unusually large and elaborate, while public spaces and corporate architecture were either relatively small or absent altogether. Although Chachapoya settlement architecture was unique in several regards, it also shared a number of fundamental attributes with other regions, suggesting that it is best understood as part of a larger tradition that characterized much of the Andean highlands during the Late Intermediate Period.

Lidio M. Valdez, MacEwan University
"The Use of Coca Leaves in the Peruvian Central Highlands before the Inka"

Abstract: At the time of Spanish arrival, coca leaves had widespread use across the Peruvian central highlands and beyond. Within the Inka State, coca leaves had different uses, and during ceremonial activities it was the single most important vegetable offering. Coca was so important that even the dead had coca leaves placed in their mouths. Due to its high value, the Inka administration considered the colonization of the tropical rain forest region, east and north of Cuzco the Inka capital in order to cultivate their own coca supply. Recent archaeological finding coming north of the Ayacucho Valley in central Peru indicates that early in the development of the Wari State coca was already used. The new evidence also constitutes the first direct evidence for coca use in pre-Inka times.

Victor M. Ponte, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
"Preliminary Analysis of Recuay Mortuary Practices in the North Central Highlands of Peru"

Abstract: During the Early Intermediate Period (EIP) in the Central Andes of Peru, the valley of Callejón de Huaylas was home to the Recuay society. Their mortuary pattern is associated with a particular local style of subterranean stone burial chambers distributed around the periphery of the residential area. Preliminary analysis of the human remains from each chamber indicates a familial form of entombment. The Minimum Number of Individuals (MNI) is consistent with a picture of adults and children buried together. However, exceptions occur in the sample. By the end of EIP there is evidence for the burial of infants in cist tombs and the burial of multiple neonates with adult females. Both may represent a ritual response to external influences, possibly stimulated by inter-regional interaction with the Wari empire.

Jean Hudson, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Brian Billman, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, and
Jesus Briceño, Ministerio de Cultura, Perú
"Subsistence Fishing, Past and Present, on the Northern Coast of Peru"

Abstract: Recent salvage excavations at Cerro La Virgen (CLV), a Chimu outlier site on the northern side of the Moche Valley, produced a faunal assemblage from midden and household contexts. Fish dominate the vertebrate remains. Preliminary data are used to compare the fish taxa identified at CLV with catches by modern reed boat (caballito) fishermen in the nearby coastal community of Huanchaco. Collaborative work with the Peruvian Ministerio de Cultura, the heritage non-profit MOCHE, Inc, and field school students from UWM and UNC-CH provides the CLV archaeological data and the associated field and laboratory work. Ethnoachaeological research by the author, based on participant observation and interview, provides the modern Huanchaco fishing data.

Kasia Szremski, Vanderbilt University
"Resource Sharing during the Late Intermediate Period (1100-1470 AD): Evaluating the Relationship between Chancay Settlers and Local Groups in the Huanangue Valley, Peru"

Abstract: Since its publication in 1972, John Murra's model of verticality has been one of the dominant models for understanding economic interactions for much of the Andes. This paper builds on recent critiques of the verticality model by utilizing data from the Huanangue valley in the Norte Chico region of Peru to re-examine evidence for different types of interaction between different groups during the Late Intermediate Period and Late Horizon (1100-1532 AD). Specifically, I use ethnohistoric, survey, and excavation data to examine the relationships between the coastal Chancay and local chaupiyungino groups. Based on these data, I argue that the Chancay established colonies in the Huanangue Valley and that these colonies may have been established in response to increased pressure being placed on agricultural production by the Inka State. However, since water in the Huanangue valley is extremely limited, the Chancay colonists would have had to negotiate with the local chaupiyunginos in order to gain access to water. Altogether, this suggests that the verticality model does not fully account for the economic and social processes that occurred in the Huanangue valley, but rather a combination of verticality, resource sharing, and perhaps trade may have all been at play during this period.

Margaret Brown Vega, Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, and
Gerbert Asencios Lindo, Ministerio de Cultura, Perú
"Results from On-going Research on Defensive Landscapes of the Central Coast of Perú: Fortifications in the Pativilca Valley"

Abstract: As part of a long-term research endeavor Proyecto Awqa Pacha aims to locate and document sites with defensive characteristics that have gone underreported in the literature. This paper presents data from newly documented fortified features in the Pativilca Valley, on the central coast of Perú. Defensive architectural features are discussed, including features not typical of other fortifications in the region. Pottery and lithic types, as well as special artifacts, yield insight into the temporal assignment of sites, many of which are multicomponent. Surface assemblages and materials from limited excavations provide indications of the nature of activities at some sites. We consider the location of fortifications in relation to freshwater and marine sources, as well as lomas formations. The overall distribution of forts indicates a different pattern of fortification for the Pativilca Valley when compared to other valleys in the region. Results add to a growing database of fort locations and attributes for the coastal region of Perú, and lend further support to the need to consider conflict or defensive measures in local historical sequences.

Amber Anderson, SUNY at Buffalo, Medaille College
"More than Forts: Inca Ideology, Economics, and Warfare in the Pambamarca Fortress Complex, Ecuador"

Abstract: During the 15th and 16th centuries, the Inca Empire expanded throughout the Andean region of South America, by using an effective combination of religious ideals, ideological views of the landscape, economic resource acquisition, and military might. However, by the late 1400's/early 1500's, the Empire began to show signs of strain and the autonomous societies of the Pais Caranqui in Northern Ecuador banded together and resisted Inca advances for almost two decades. In their struggle to subjugate the area the Inca abandoned their traditional hegemonic models of power, and implemented new direct territorial economic, political, and ideological strategies not found elsewhere. A hardened frontier of fortresses and enclosures was created in the mountains north of Quito in the Pambamarca Fortress Complex, many of which contained ulterior uses such as ideological markers (huacas), ceremonial centers, tambos protecting economic routes, and outposts. This paper will further explore doctoral research completed at several of the smallest enclosures within the Pambamarca Fortress Complex in comparison to their larger militarized counterparts in order to disentangle the complex nature of Inca conquest in Northern Ecuador.

Andrea Heile, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Danielle Kurin, University of California Santa Barbara
Poster:A Bioarchaeological and Ethnohistoric Study of Trophy Taking among the Chanka of Ancient Peru

Abstract: Trophy taking is a well-known practice in which human remains are collected, curated, and prominently showcased. In the ancient Andes, these displayed remains were often acquired through acts of warfare, ritual sacrifice, and ancestor veneration. This research examines possible human trophy use among highland populations in early Late Intermediate Period ([LIP], ca. AD 1000-1250) Andahuaylas, Peru. Several lines of evidence suggest the peri/post-mortem curation of human remains for conspicuous display. For instance, cut mark patterns on bone suggest standardized disarticulation of appendages and skeletal elements. Most intriguing was the discovery of non-utilitarian artifacts fashioned from highly polished human ribs with holes drilled in the sternal ends; these pendant-like objects are prevalent at sites throughout the region. The intentional modification of bone (drill hole) suggest a trophy rib fashioned for display as it could have been strung and worn around one's neck. This class of adornment, typically associated with late prehispanic Andean authoritative ranks, may also signal the achieved status of a warrior. Given that local populations in LIP Andahuaylas were experiencing high levels of violence, these possible trophies conform to a cultural milieu that increasingly valorized warriors whose authority was legitimized through the physical appropriation of enemies and other rivals.

Diane Newbury, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Poster: Coastal Andean Featherwork – When Birds and Mammals Come Together

Abstract: The Milwaukee Public Museum (MPM) has a collection of approximately 150 featherwork artifacts from South Coastal Peru which are unfortunately devoid of more detailed provenience. My thesis concerns the research potential of such artifacts, including the detailed analysis of their source material and style of manufacture. In the process of examining each of these items to identify their constituent parts I found eight feathered artifacts that incorporate a unique and as yet unidentified type of mammal hair. I have identified at least two other museums with very similar artifacts in their collections, also constructed with what appears to be the same mammalian fur. My presentation will summarize research efforts to identify the "mystery" fur, as well as other unique aspects of these specific artifacts and some of the potential inferences to be drawn from this research.

Jeffery R. Parsons, University of Michigan, and
R. Tom Zuidema, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

These two scholars have graciously agreed to share some of their Insights from the Field during the informal Fireside Chat at the closing reception. This is intended to be a time to relax and reflect.