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Proyecto Arqueológico Norte Chico

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Winifred Creamer
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The Norte Chico region on the coast of Peru north of Lima consists of four adjacent river valleys—Huaura, Supe, Pativilca and Fortaleza—in which archaeologists have been aware of a number of apparently early sites for more than 40 years (refs 1– 3). To clarify the early chronology in this region, we undertook fieldwork in 2002 and 2003 to determine the dates of occupation of sites in the Fortaleza and Pativilca valleys. Here we present 95 new radiocarbon dates from a sample of 13 of more than 20 large, early sites. These sites share certain basic characteristics, including large-scale monumental architecture, extensive residential architecture and a lack of ceramics. The 95 new dates confirm the emergence and development of a major cultural complex in this region during the Late Archaic period between 3000 and 1800 calibrated calendar years bc. The results help to redefine a broader understanding of the respective roles of agricultural and fishing economies in the beginnings of civilization in South America.
Winifred Creamer
added 3 research items
We discuss the transformation of society on the coast of Peru between 3000 and 1800 BC that sets the foundations for later Andean civilization.
Este volumen presenta los resultados del programa de investigación de nueve sitios arqueológicos en el valle del Rio Pativilca, en la costa de Peru. Se presenta los primeros fechados proveniente de muestras recogidos sistematicamente del valle Pativilca en la región denominada el Norte Chico. Los mapas y descripciones forman una base de discutir el periodo Arcaico Tardío (3000–1800 aC) en este zona, donde se encuentra construcción de arquitectura monumental durante una epoca anterior del resto del Nuevo Mundo. Cuarenta y cuatro muestras de ocho sitios estaban fechados. Siete de los ocho sitios fecharon entre 2740 y 1870 Cal aC, en el periodo Arcaico Tardío. Un fechado de 1480 Cal aC (ISGS-A-429) del sitio Potao indica que este sitio estaba ocupado mas tardio, durante el Periodo Inicial. Estos resultados pueden estar discutido en relacion al desarrollo del sociedad complejo en el Norte Chico.
Groups occupying the coast of Peru prior to 6000 BC exploited varied ecological niches including intensive use of maritime resources. By 3000 BC plant cultivation was widespread along the coast, including beans, chili peppers, peanuts, and cotton, watered by canal irrigation. In the Norte Chico region, an extraordinary concentration of sites have been identified that date to the third millennium BC. Midden samples include abundant marine shell and fish bone, but few terrestrial species. We compare marine invertebrates from two sites, one within a few kilometers of the shore, the other 23 km inland. Examining the abundance and diversity of species, we assess possible procurement strategies. The data show little difference with distance from the coast. Shell remains reflect exploitation of both sandy and rocky intertidal zones, primarily for clam and mussel species but with smaller numbers of many other edible species, a strategy of broad-spectrum opportunistic gathering.
Manuel Perales
added 2 research items
The data for the Norte Chico do not fit expectations of social or political control by the Wari during the Middle Horizon (MH). Instead, they reveal participation of local polities in at least two panregional iconographic phenomena as well as in their own localized systems. These levels of participation are visible in architecture and pottery stylistic features in both the Pativilca and Huaura valleys. Stylistic similarities in architecture document local solidarity by the presence of repeated room forms, invoking shared concepts of architecture and space. Pottery styles represent a duality that is indicated by the inclusion of both Central Coast press-mold pottery and more general MH polychromes. Both architecture and pottery, which each represent multilevel and multimedia systems of style, come together to form the complex MH of the Norte Chico. Previous notions of the incorporation of the Norte Chico in the Wari Empire have been based on expansionist models that include the north-central coast in the broad area of control. These assumptions of Wari dominance were based on characterizations of the Wari as having broad control over vast regions (Isbell and McEwan 1991; Schreiber 1992) and on isolated finds of Wari-like architecture and pottery in the region. The Norte Chico was included within the Wari Empire because of its location close to sites such as Pachacamac (Rostoworski de Diez Canseco 1992; Shimada 1991; Uhle 1903) and Socos (Isla and Guerrero 1987), which were argued to have Wari components. The interpretation of the Norte Chico as one of the many areas under Wari domination was sealed by a few tantalizing descriptions of Wari-type artifactual remains discovered in the Supe Valley (Menzel 1977; Reiss and Stuebel 1880; Uhle 1925) and at the coastal site of Vegueta in the Huaura Valley (Shady and Ruiz 1979). As a result, the Norte Chico is assumed to have been under Wari domination even though there was scant empirical evidence of direct control. Using broadscale patterning of traits, we explore the stylistic elements that compose the MH complex in the Norte Chico. We use these data to document different levels of stylistic spheres, including panregional, regional, and local distributions. These stylistic modalities are displayed in a variety of media, including architecture and pottery, and detail the complex stylistic systems of this frontier zone during the MH. This reevaluation of the MH in the Norte Chico raises larger questions of the role of the Wari in this and other intermediary or frontier areas. These results support a dynamic model of interaction that includes the importance of local systems of power and authority that develop within the context of negotiating the incorporation of specific components of the political ideology that likely underlie the larger stylistic systems. © 2010 by the University of New Mexico Press. All rights reserved.
Monumental architecture, including stepped pyramids, sunken circular plazas, and upright monoliths (huancas), has been identified at sites throughout the Norte Chico region along the coast of Peru. During 2003 and 2004, test excavations were conducted at six of these sites in the Fortaleza Valley. Excavation included 1 × 2-m test pits and sections cleared along road cuts and looters' pits. Good preservation of plant materials, along with fiber bags, or shicra, used in construction of monumental architecture yielded ample samples for dating. This report describes and illustrates the precise context of the samples and provides the radiocarbon dating results for 80 samples. Project results show that the sites tested were occupied during the Late Archaic Period between 3000 and 1800 BC. The pattern of constructing large mounds paired with sunken circular plazas clearly begins by the third millennium BC, and a U-shaped layout of sites appears to develop during that period, as indicated by the regularity of site plans and monuments at sites such as Caballete and Porvenir.