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The Early Horizon type site of Chavín de Huántar, located in the north-central Andes of modern Peru, is distinguished by a long sequence of construction, as well as outstanding features such as abundant lithic art, use of cut stone in construction, a complex of underground gallery systems, and exceptional alteration of local land forms. This chapter explores the implications of these characteristics for the evolution of power and authority at this site across the later Initial Period and Early Horizon (approximately 1300 to 600 B.C.). Particular attention is focused on the concepts of power and authority in relation to religious belief systems and the intrinsic factors that might have connected the site's characteristics to a developing system for convincing populations to increasingly accept the dominance of a priestly leadership. These characteristics argue that not only were the emerging authorities at Chavín exceptionally creative in their manipulation of the human mind through landscape, architecture, images, sound, light, and the use of psychoactive drugs but also that this apparent highly planned ritual context demonstrates the very intentional and conscious strategies employed in the transformation of early politico-religious organization.
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The Evolution of Authority and Power at Chavín
de Huántar, Peru
John W. Rick
Stanford University
The Early Horizon type site of Chavín de Huántar, located in the north-central Andes of modern Peru, is distinguished
byalong sequence of construction, as well as outstanding features such as abundant lithic art, use of cut stone in
construction, a complex of underground gallery systems, and exceptional alteration of local land forms. This chapter
explores the implications of these characteristics for the evolution of power and authority at this site across the later
Initial Period and Early Horizon (approximately 1300 to 600 B.C.). Particular attention is focused on the concepts of
power and authority in relation to religious belief systems and the intrinsic factors that might have connected the
site’s characteristics to a developing system for convincing populations to increasingly accept the dominance of a
priestly leadership. These characteristics argue that not only were the emerging authorities at Chavín exceptionally
creative in their manipulation of the human mind through landscape, architecture, images, sound, light, and the use
of psychoactive drugs but also that this apparent highly planned ritual context demonstrates the very intentional
and conscious strategies employed in the transformation of early politico-religious organization.
Keywords: Chavín, Early Horizon, Peruvian Andes, monumental architecture, authority
The Andes has long been acknowledged as the site of the
evolution of extremely powerful and autocratic politi-
cal leaders and organizations. The transition from relatively
egalitarian society to states and empires is long and begins at
least as early as the third millennium B.C. (Shady and Leyva
2003). The increasing concentration of power in the hands of
relatively few people was accompanied by a complex pro-
cess that established and justified the authority of power-
ful entities like those known in many regions, although the
Andean process may have its own character relative to the
rest of the world (Isbell and Silverman 2002). This chap-
ter looks at the extensively investigated type site of Chavín
de Huántar for evidence of how such transitions might have
occurred. Chavín probably was not the locus of the earliest
trends toward political and economic differentiation, but it
has a long record that should encompass significant change
in this arena. The site has long been known for its graphic
art and complex monumental architecture; this chapter will
attempt to relate these and other features of the site to an
argument that the evolution of authority resulted from a con-
Archaeological Papers of the American Anthropological Association,Vol. 14, pp. 71–89, ISBN 1-931303-20-7. C
2005 by the American Anthro-
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scious, calculated political strategy on the part of those who
designed, built, and utilized this center.
I will not attempt a full description of the well-known
site of Chavín de Huántar but rather emphasize certain as-
pects that are important to my purposes. Chavín as a monu-
mental center is concentrated in an area of about 0.5 square
kilometers and consists of stone-faced platform mounds per-
meated with stone-lined drainage canals and galleries in
alabyrinthine distribution (Burger 1992; Lumbreras and
Amat 1965; Tello 1960) (Figures 5.1 and 5.2). The site was
originally decorated with engraved stone cornices, facings,
columns, tenon heads, and obelisks characteristically en-
graved with humans, animals, plants, and, most often, an-
thropomorphs combining these elements (Figure 5.3). The
site can be best described as a temple complex, empha-
sizing formal and costly architecture designed to be quite
72 John W. Rick
Figure 5.1. Overall site map of Chav´ın de Hu´antar, showing distribution of major buildings (labeled A–G) and external features (1 =
Circular Plaza,2=Plaza Mayor,3=Falcon Gateway).
impressive by accentuating height differentials between low
plazas and high platforms. I have argued elsewhere (Rick in
press) that these architectural arrangements also served to
isolate ceremonial participants from the outside world, es-
pecially within sunken plazas and internal galleries, which
encompass the viewer, often completely. Access across lev-
els and to platform tops was tightly regulated by a series of
formal and mostly narrow staircases, which are often foci of
architectural planning themselves, forming axes and framing
elements in the overall architectural layout (Rick et al. 1998).
Decades of work by dozens of archaeologists in the mon-
umental center have yet to reveal any occupation deposits
associated with the major temple construction periods, and
most Chavín structure surfaces and fills are nearly devoid
of any cultural materials whatsoever—outside of construc-
tion materials, the primary finds are caches, offerings, or
other concentrated intentional deposits of elaborate, costly,
exotic materials evidently associated with ritual or political
activities. At the same time, work by Burger (1984) and my
project outside the ceremonial precinct has revealed the pres-
ence of a substantial community that apparently grew over
time. Most recently, we have found abundant evidence for
the growth of craft production and increasing segregation of
highly differentiated elite and commoner residential archi-
tecture over time (Figures 5.4 and 5.5). The difference in the
archaeological record of ceremonial and residential archi-
tecture is also striking, with residences containing abundant
by-products of craft production and daily routine activities,
as well as being interbedded with repetitive fills containing
similar refuse.
Authority and Power at Chav´ın de Hu´antar 73
Figure 5.2. Map of the distribution of major gallery systems within the central buildings of Chav´ın de Hu´antar (from Kembel 2001).
Figure 5.3. Example of stone art from Chav´ın de Hu ´antar demon-
strating the combination of human and animal attributes: image
from Falcon Gateway column.
Our recent research in the ceremonial core has concen-
trated on mapping, modeling, and small, strategic excava-
tions for revealing key architectural details and obtaining
dating samples (Kembel in press; Rick in press; Rick et al.
1998). This has resulted in a series of related conclusions
about the site’s age, the chronology of its architecture, and
the strategies represented in the growth of the monument.
For details on the complex relationship between radiocar-
bon dates and the center’s monumental architecture, see the
systematic work of Silvia Kembel (2001, in press). Her anal-
ysis of the galleries in relation to exterior architecture has
shown that Chavín grew through complex and numerous
additions over many centuries and in patterns decidedly dif-
ferent from the simple Old Temple/New Temple pattern that
has been the standard for understanding the site until now
(e.g., Burger 1992; Rowe 1962). Coupling architectural evi-
dence and radiocarbon dates has put many structures in new
chronological positions, including a late chronological posi-
tion for the Circular Plaza and its associated art (Figure 5.6).
Most notably, we can show that the end of monumental
construction came much earlier than previously believed (in
the range of 600 B.C.), with a likely, if imperfectly dated,
beginning that may extend well into the Initial Period. The
later part of the Early Horizon, from no later than 500 B.C.
74 John W. Rick
Figure 5.4. Example of lower status architecture in 2003 excavations in La Banda. In foreground are the foundations of structures
showing relatively slight investment in construction. On terrace in background are the structures shown in Figure 5.5.
onward, appears not to be a period of great temple growth as
has been generally thought but rather a time of low invest-
ment in architecture and of probable abandonment of ritual
activity in the site. Most telling in this regard is that by around
500 B.C. the most important ritual locations at Chavín, such
as the Circular Plaza, are congested with relatively informal
residential architecture that often incorporates cut and deco-
rated stone originally from temple contexts in a very secular
and informal context (Figure 5.7). From this time onward
Chavín increasingly becomes a modest village of squatters
living in the shadows of the massive decaying temples.
Power and Authority
For the Formative of the Andes (comprising roughly the
Initial and Early Horizon periods; approximately 1800–200
B.C., but arguably also ranging back to the later preceramic
times [Lumbreras 1974; Shady et al. 2001]) we are inter-
ested in knowing how the sociopolitical systems evolved,
perhaps with the historical Inca or even post-conquest for-
mations as the upper limit. But we assume there must be
prior forms leading to the later periods—smaller group sizes
and less differentiation between individuals and subgroups
in both specialization and status. As the changes occur over
time in size and differentiation, what are we most seeking
to identify and explain? From the title of this volume, one
would assume that power is the central issue, and it cer-
tainly is important, but I argue that it is not in fact the most
central one involved in this long-term process. Let me use
monumental architecture as an example. If large structures
necessarily involving the labor and resources of many indi-
viduals are found, we can assume that power was necessary
for their construction. I am highly reliant on the thought-
ful and comprehensive discussion of power and authority by
Lukes (1978), who would define power as asymmetric (when
Authority and Power at Chav´ın de Hu´antar 75
Figure 5.5. Example of higher status architecture in 2003 La Banda excavations, con-
sisting of massive stone walls with multiple superimposed components showing.
power is the ability of a subset of a group to carry out its will,
often to its specific benefit, over the interests of others) or
as collective (in which power is the sum of the abilities of an
overall group to carry out actions). In the present case, either
someone or some group had asymmetric power to command
that such buildings be brought into being, or some overall
group could sum its resources and cooperatively produce
the structures. Clearly, the actual process may combine both
types of power, and the assessment of how much of either
type of power is a difficult but critical archaeological en-
deavor. I believe that most uses of the concept of power in
recent archaeological research in the Andes are aimed at the
former, effectively the often-cited “power over” of Weber
(1968:53), and it may be that in fact we see a long-term shift
from collective power to asymmetric power. But I insist that
even in the demonstration that there was “power over” that
concentrated in the hands of a few the command of many,
we are far short of understanding the phenomenon at hand.
Reemphasizing the title of this volume, it is the for-
mation of this power that is of major interest: what pro-
cesses create the foundations of power. Again, let me il-
lustrate. If monumental buildings result from asymmetrical
power, the situation could be highly historically contingent,
in the sense that local use of force, presence of charisma,
or response to crisis might have led to a relatively short-
lived ability to construct in massive form. This is conceptu-
ally separable from an institutionalized, acknowledged, and
effective long-term tradition of asymmetric power and the
Figure 5.6. Simple chronological model for current dating of
Chav´ın de Hu ´antar, showing relatively late relative position for
the Circular Plaza; Support phase is largely a post-temple period
(adapted from Kembel 2001).
long-lived group that holds it. The imaginable find of a sin-
gle very early (say 5000 B.C.) Andean temple and palace,
clearly demonstrating a concentration of power in an elite but
without continuity across significant time, would hardly be
the primary basis for understanding the circumstances and
factors of long-term power and authority formation in the
The concept of authority becomes quite important in
helping narrow down the longer-term processes we are
76 John W. Rick
Figure 5.7. Circular Plaza informal architecture, showing initial post-temple period architecture in southwest corner of
Circular Plaza as revealed by 2002 excavations; this layer is dated to 500 B.C.
interested in. Authority is the legitimization and institution-
alization of power, in which the idea of some individual or
individuals holding power becomes acceptable and, through
tradition, an expectation. It is through authority that power-
holding is naturalized—to the point that the lack of author-
ity, and thus power-holding, is seen as a cultural pathology.
“Take me to your leader,” the phrase we expect aliens to
enunciate on arrival to Earth, shows just how far we have
internalized the concept: we suppose that the idea of ac-
knowledged authority would be held by any sapient crea-
ture. Authority refers to a situation in which command and
decision-making are systematically ascribed to certain indi-
viduals and in which judgment on whether to obey command
is based on the perceived position of the decision-maker,
rather than on reason (Lukes 1978); most important, the
perceived position has a widespread level of legitimacy. Au-
thority is invested and legitimized in individuals or groups
that thereby hold power. This power tends to be asymmet-
rical in its nature, since judgment tends to be unquestioned,
is legitimated by authority, and the authorities are a subset
of the overall group. Such authorities generally qualify for
their role by having certain characteristics and are typically
distinguished, to quote Hobbes, as having “marks whereby
a man may discern in what men, or assembly of men, the
sovereign power is placed and resideth” (1958, quoted in
Lukes 1978:641). It is really the process of establishing
authority and the characteristics of that “legal or rightful
power” that I find most important in studying the early so-
ciopolitical record of the Andes. How did the concepts upon
which authority was based come about, what were they com-
posed of, and how does the archaeological record help us
understand this process?
Belief Systems and the Establishment
of Authority
How then did authority become established, where it had
not previously existed at the same scale and with the same
Authority and Power at Chav´ın de Hu´antar 77
pervasiveness? The issue is gaining power, but not by any
means. Power in the absence of supporting belief is likely to
be ephemeral at best and, to the degree it does exist, is prob-
ably maintained through force by “thugs” (Hayden 1995).
This situation undoubtedly occurred in many prehistoric and
historic societies; interestingly it is the antithesis of the idea
of the theocracy, which traditionally was seen as rulership
of morally driven, worshipful leaders. While recent devel-
opments in our understanding of “Classic” cultures make
this idea untenable, it does call to mind an important dis-
tinction raised by Flannery (1972) between system-serving
and self-serving motivations. Belief systems are as likely to
be abused in service to authority as military systems. In the
case of Chavín, there is an open question over the degree
to which use of force was present and common in the act
of establishing authority. It may well prove that there is a
substantial and intrinsic coercive organization in Chavín or
the Early Horizon that has not been widely recognized. I be-
lieve that the emphasis on “undefended” temple structures,
the relatively infrequent representation or finds of arms or
armed individuals, and the rarity of conflict or its results in
depictions or the archaeological record all direct thinking
away from coercion as a primary element to explain author-
ity in these periods. There are notable exceptions, and the
specter of the “peaceful Maya” serves as a reminder of how
wrong we might be. My point will not be to disavow a role
for violence in Formative Peru but rather to examine Chavín
specifically for evidence of belief-system–driven features.
Archaeologists have long believed that the Formative
Period, at least in the New World, involved religion and rit-
ual in the growth and differentiation of sociopolitical or-
ganizations (Coe 1981; Keatinge 1981; Lumbreras 1972;
Willey 1971, among many others). There is a pervasive be-
lief that early leadership involves ritual roles, often referred
to within the broad concept of theocracy (e.g., see Alden-
derfer, this volume; Vaughn, this volume). Exploring this
complex of ideas about the primacy of religion in leader-
ship and its historical trajectory is beyond the bounds of this
chapter, but theocracy at least requires definition. Theoc-
racies have been defined as “political regimes that claim to
represent the Divine on earth both directly and immediately”
(Weber 1998:733). A correlate idea is that the legitimacy of
a theocracy is based on the connection that can be inferred
between leader and the divine source of authority. That rela-
tionship can take many forms, ranging from the ruler being
the actual deity, as in the known Inca precept of the ruler
being a close relative of a deity; to the ruler as interpreter
of godly wisdom or dictates; to less clear assertions of con-
nection. The general inference is that the connection with
divine authority is through the top ruler—that is, a priest
of some sort. This then constitutes a belief system, in which
legitimacy comes from the belief in divine connection—pre-
sumably fairly widespread and especially affecting those in
key positions to support the purported divinely connected
The leadership of religious authorities can be viewed
in many ways, but two useful stereotyped and polar ex-
tremes could be termed the cohesive-devotional versus the
manipulative model. In the former, authorities participate
in a common devotion with the remainder of a society in a
religion that is broadly shared across status and role. This
view presupposes the existence of the belief system, and the
presence of rulers simply is an organized manifestation of
the common devotion. The ability to have more coordinated
rituals or more impressive contexts for them might be jus-
tification for the increased influence and affluence of the
religious leadership. This perspective is closely related to
the ideas of Durkheim (1947), in which religion serves to
create commonalities and social cohesion and certainly the
religious leadership is system-serving in the sense of pro-
viding a more coherent society. If an effective religion can
lower suicide rates, for instance (Durkheim 1951), it would
be worth “funding” a religious leadership to achieve such
an end. One would have to look outside, and perhaps after
the development of such a leadership, for a self-promoting
authority system in which substantial rewards are implicit in
the higher roles.
A more skeptical and opposite viewpoint would be that
the leaders have ulterior motives and intentionally manipu-
late concepts precisely to gain greater power and privilege
in the society. This more cynical view sees religion as a ve-
hicle by which increasing differentiation can occur through
promotion of religious concepts. Religion as a tool for the
benefit of certain individuals or groups is clearly allied to
Marx’s concept of religion having little primacy in the fab-
ric of society but rather being derived in great part from
economic interests. Although our ideas of Marx’s perspec-
tive on religion are based on very few direct references in
his writing, Marx was apparently trying to warn the world
that religion was serving overwhelming and oppressive eco-
nomic purposes (Raines 2002). By implication Marx did not
see religion as inevitably a device of the powerful, but his
idea of its historical role is in keeping with the manipula-
tive model of religion as a strategy for advancement of one
group’s interests over those of others.
Aspects of the Weberian view also involve religion
as a strategy, but his concepts of “power to” and “power
over” are very relevant to the two stereotypes of religious
power; clearly the former implies some degree of leader-
ship, but with minimal implication of control, whereas the
latter suggests overriding the independent will of individuals
(Weber 1958, 1968). One would expect cohesive-devotional
78 John W. Rick
Figure 5.8. Simple dichotomous model of stereotypic religious for-
religious systems to more commonly produce collective,
“power to,” system-serving types of leadership, while a ma-
nipulative religious system would be likely to be correlated
with asymmetric, “power over,” self-serving forms of au-
thority (Figure 5.8).
In the cohesive model, the character of the religion
might be given some primacy within society in the sense
that its characteristics seem to shape people’s devotion or
attitudes. In the manipulative model, however, the charac-
teristics of the belief system are designed to have certain ef-
fects and to achieve results in engineering the relationships
between leaders and followers. In other words, the former
is “religion for religion’s sake” while the latter is “religion
for the leader’s sake.” Obviously any given historical situa-
tion could involve some combination of these models, and
in fact determining the degree of cohesion or manipulation
involved in emerging religious authority structures should
certainly be a goal of Formative research. I think it impor-
tant to specifically consider the ways that religious structures
and authorities diverge from being purely devotional in char-
acter and origin, and in the case of Chavín, we must further
pursue the issue of the possible power-related motives of
emerging authorities.
Put simply, belief systems are not trivial associations
with the establishment of authority. A naturalized authority
system is based on a belief system but presumably a differ-
ent one from its antecedents. Thus, we have to expect that
belief systems will play a substantial role in the evolution
of increasing authority, not merely accommodating changes
enacted by other means but probably playing a leading role.
After all, the relatively self-evident supposition that humans
are created equal has to be counteracted if sociopolitical in-
equality is to emerge, and this will happen largely not through
physical differences, but through beliefs about differences,
intrinsic or otherwise, between individuals and groups. This
may seem terribly obvious, but it needs to be tempered with
a different perspective: the conservative character of belief
systems, especially those we might term religious. Religious
authority generally derives from reference to purportedly
founding-era precepts; it derives from “time-honored” tradi-
tions and concepts. Usually such belief systems are vehicles
for stasis, not change. They serve, among other purposes, to
maintain behavior against nontraditional influences. A con-
tradiction is thus obvious: the realm of culture that we might
most expect to drive change is one that functions to resist
change in many situations. If the Formative is a major time
of reformulation of belief systems, then we would expect
this contradiction to be a point of tension, creating a situ-
ation in which unusual efforts and even creativity may be
One particular solution to the changing of belief sys-
tems is to make use of traditional concepts that are easily
subject to reinterpretation or that carry the seeds of their
own change. If it were possible to make it appear that little
or nothing has changed and that the new order is reasonably
in line with the old, or even an improvement or correction to
the old system, this would likely meet with less resistance
byaconservative (or reactionary) population not eager to
change, especially if it involves sacrifice of freedom and
energy. A similar situation is seen in changing legal sys-
tems, using the concept of fictions, in which laws are seen as
unchanging, in spite of their clear dynamism under changing
social circumstances (Diamond 1991; Maine 1864). Emerg-
ing authorities may have been challenged to make radical
restructurings appear as “improved” tradition—something
that probably will select for individuals, actions, objects, and
settings with both persuasive and tradition-referent charac-
ter and content, as well as possibly have actual benefit for
the population. The range of options with these character-
istics available to authorities may be limited, and thus it is
tempting to think that there will be elements of convergence
between evolving systems in varied locations.
I raise a final issue before turning to evidence from
Chavín: if the archaeological correlates of strategic manip-
ulation of traditional concepts are found (akin to the idea of
“perversion” in cultural evolution as espoused by Flannery
1972), this would be a strong argument for a strategic con-
sciousness on the part of early emergent authorities. Belief
systems are not likely to change directionally and consis-
tently toward concentrating power on their own; they are
agents of some individuals within the cultural system. The
greater the degree of elaboration of persuasion evident in
the rites, materials, and settings of the belief system, the
more likely that not only were the leaders aware of being
Authority and Power at Chav´ın de Hu´antar 79
self-serving in their actions but also they were actually con-
scious of the trajectory of change. If they have realistically
perceived the before-and-after roles of the traditional ele-
ments they are manipulating, it suggests a much greater de-
gree of historical consciousness and intentionality than is
generally inferred for the Formative Period.
Chavín as a Tradition-Based Convincing
In the local valley system known as the Callejón de
Conchucos, Chavín is the only massive valley-bottom mon-
ument known from any time period, and thus it is a challenge
to see this substantial project as deriving from any previous
local tradition of strong leadership. The development of this
series of innovations and technologies seems revolutionary;
some such striking features of Chavín are the following:
rThe extensive investment of planning and energy in the
stone-lined passages known as galleries (Lumbreras and
Amat 1965), architectural features employed throughout
the phases of monumental construction (Kembel 2001).
The galleries were underground facilities of very limited
floor space, volume, and use potential but were relatively
expensive to build and maintain. In order to preserve their
structural integrity, a series of measures had to be taken
to avoid water penetration in the surrounding platform
mound fill. The Lanzón Gallery has direct evidence of
ritual character in the form of the 5-meter-high Lanzón,
an original idol-like stone sculpture (Figure 5.9). The
Ofrendas Gallery contained an apparent massive offering
of elaborately crafted ceramics (Lumbreras 1993), and
the Caracolas Gallery that we recently excavated seems
involved in the storage of long-used, highly decorated
heirloom Strombus shell trumpets (Figure 5.10). These
shells, played in groups, would have produced impressive
amounts of noise from an object rarely seen in this area
prior to the period of monumental construction, given their
origin in tropical ocean waters north of Peru.
rThe galleries have ducts known as ventilation shafts and
drainage canals, but these are likely to have had mul-
tiple functions. They have been argued to produce and
channel sound (Lumbreras et al. 1976), and many ven-
tilators were placed in linear alignments that aim down
gallery segments, span galleries, or are directed into niches
or at sculpture in the case of the Lanzón. These straight-
line characteristics, of little importance to gallery venti-
lation, make better sense if the ducts were used to bring
reflected sunlight into galleries, perhaps employing the
small anthracite mirrors commonly found in Chavín exca-
vations. Our tests with small mirrors show that light trans-
Figure 5.9. The Lanz´on monolithic sculpture, still standing in the
Lanz´on Gallery.
mission is effective in illuminating the galleries or their
rA number of site objects and icons suggest the ritual
use of psychoactive drugs (Cordy-Collins 1977; Sharon
2001) and perhaps shaman-like transitions between hu-
man and animal entities in the form of abundant tenon
heads (Burger 1992:157–159). Some of the drugs inferred
to have been used at Chavín were from distant areas,
and animals that might have been the alternative state
for shamans may not have been of great familiarity to the
Chavín populace. Together with the exceptionally graphic
depiction of the drug effects and transitions, these factors
seem to argue that these features were seen as attention-
grabbing, unusual, and exotic.
Overall, the monumental construction at Chavín seems
designed to impress, to set the location apart, to dominate
the local landscape, and to so completely span the valley
floor that travelers and residents alike would be constantly
faced with this novel feature of the landscape. The use of cut
stone, so prominently placed on the monument, further sets
the structures apart from anything else found locally. The
80 John W. Rick
Figure 5.10. Three of 20 Strombus shell trumpets excavated in 2001 from the Caracolas Gallery, showing wear that has effaced
engravings on the two examples on the left (drawings by Helene Bernier).
transport of exotic stone materials such as granite and lime-
stone from significant distances and altitude differentials
(Turner et al. 1999) and the development of elaborate stone
cutting and fitting technologies involved unprecedented co-
ordinated effort and technical development. Even with to-
day’s decayed version of the monument, the visual effect is
This center’s long-term program of growth adapted lo-
cal geology and topography; the engineers and architects of
Chavín used massive fills to raise land surfaces to serve as
elevated foundations for the massive structures. There also
appears to have been substantial cutting away of land sur-
faces to form terraces and otherwise sculpt the topography.
Megalithic foundation structures were put in place under
plazas, using huge boulders to stabilize the new cultural fea-
ture in a previously swampy landscape (Figure 5.11). Even
the course of the adjacent Mosna River seems to have been
altered to accommodate the growth of the later monumental
construction stages (Kembel and Rick 2004; Rick in press).
The extensive decoration of the site, involving hundreds
of precisely cut and frequently engraved cut-stone plaques
seems unparalleled. At Chavín, cut stone appeared in the
upper courses of the platform walls; in columnar portals
and terrace fronts, lintels, and cornices; in three-dimensional
tenon heads and obelisks; in staircases; and in planar plaques
that formed the walls of the most formal plazas (Figure 5.12).
At this time in the Andes, and even in the New World as a
whole, there were few locations with this development of
high-cost stone surfaces and decoration.
Yet, many of these seemingly innovative, radical, or ex-
otic developments seem linked with traditional elements. For
example, the complex of evidence for drug use and transi-
tion between human and animal has been argued to represent
shamanism. While this may be correct to a degree, it is pre-
cisely here that I see the greatest evidence for a perversion
of this widespread New World tradition. I think it likely that
some aspects of Chavín iconographyand perhaps ritual activ-
ity derive from shamanistic origins, but it is doubtful that this
monument and its features can be seen as a result of system-
serving activities of a problem-solving group of shamans. I
believe that the familiarity of shamanism and its preexisting
acknowledgment of human contact with powerful natural
elements is a credible foundation for arguments that those
involved with Chavín practice (priests at the site, inductees
into the cult) are, or can become, imbued with nature-derived
powers, or perhaps were even arguing descent from power-
ful natural ancestors (i.e., Flannery and Marcus 1976). Drug-
involved practices at the site may have not only been linked to
traditional shamanistic practice but also served to convince
newcomers that this cult could truly confer such powerful
connections. The effects of the substances may have helped
to create an overall experience that would validate the con-
cept of systematic or intrinsic difference between those re-
ceiving cult knowledge and the “lay public.” Psychoactive
substances could obviously be quite helpful in creating cred-
ibility of an otherwise rather incredible assertion of connec-
tion between certain humans and natural powerful elements,
not to mention the non-self-evident message of inequality
and difference between conspecifics. The strong emphasis
in Chavín depictions on entities combining human and an-
imal attributes makes excellent sense in this regard as an
extension of shamanistic belief but further emphasizes the
Authority and Power at Chav´ın de Hu´antar 81
Figure 5.11. Part of culturally placed boulder field underlying the floor of the Plaza Mayor, 2001 excavations.
connection with natural sources of power. The representa-
tion of combined human and animal character particularly
emphasizes the idea that the incorporation of natural power
is an ongoing, perhaps constant and permanent condition of
individuals who retain the powers of animals typically as-
sociated with alternate states of consciousness. In essence,
it may be the argument that the powerful animal identity to
which traditional shamans transform is in fact present and
active at all times in these differentiated individuals.
The most common nonhuman elements of the iconog-
raphy derive from traditions that well predate Chavín, espe-
cially the feline, serpent, and raptorial bird elements, present
at such sites as Huaca Prieta, Asia Unit 1, and La Galgada
(Bird and Hyslop 1985; Engel 1963; Grieder et al. 1988).
More novel are the fairlydetailed and realistic, if anonymous,
human or humanoid depictions (Figure 5.13). The added
emphasis on the human element may be significant if trans-
formed shamanism is now emphasizing the human-world
powers of certain individuals. Thus, I argue that shaman-
ism has probably been transformed from a set of relatively
system-serving practices involving temporary contact with,
or assumption of, natural powers to practices involving an
apparently self-promoting argument for the permanence of
those powers. This is all aimed at increasing credibility of an
emerging authority—a legitimation of power-holding using
the traditional referent of shamanism. Employing the con-
cepts of shamanism may be part of an argument that there
had been little change in the overall system; the ideas had in
essence not been highly altered but definitely extended in a
way that would support an argument for increasing power in
Chavín leadership.
In this, as in other phenomena observed at Chavín, we
might well ask who was the intended recipient of the active,
apparently intentional messaging in the depictions and archi-
tecture. To answer the question fully would require a more
complex reconstruction of the accessibility of the images and
buildings to different groups of people than space will allow
here. Most of the Chavín graphic images for which we have
82 John W. Rick
Figure 5.12. Example of cut and engraved stone in the Circular Plaza, a highly isolated ceremonial precinct. Visible are part of the
southern arc of feline plaques, a cut-stone curb, and carefully laid yellow stone flooring.
known context seem to be in locations that were likely of re-
stricted access or even restricted visibility—in galleries, in
key locations at façade entrances, high on walls, or in smaller
plazas. Some of the most complex images, perhaps carry-
ing the most complex messages, are on in-the-round objects
such as the Tello Obelisk or the columns of the Falcon Portal
(Figure 5.14). This complex messaging, however, was not
easily accessed, because comprehending the content of the
wraparound graphic is difficult even with a roll-out of the
image; it is nearly impossible to comprehend the image in
its original state. The same is true for the highly elaborate
sculpted ceramics of the Ofrendas Gallery, whose images
are in cases even more difficult to comprehend (Lumbreras
1993) (Figure 5.15). This suggests two important and rele-
vant factors to this discussion: (1) that there probably needed
to be some expert orientation or guidance for the novice to
gain any message at all and (2) that access to information
waseven more restricted than the architectural context would
indicate. This suggests that a fair amount of the messaging
was probably aimed at those within a privileged group of
practitioners or initiates and was perhaps purposefully de-
signed to obscure comprehension by those not inside that
Still, we could ask who those practitioners and initiates
were, and the answer is almost assuredly a mixture of local
elite, probably of priestly nature, whose ranks were renewed
and maintained over hundreds of years, and a component
of outsiders. Exotic raw materials (Burger et al. 1984), art
styles, and ceramic provenience (Druc 1998) all argue that
Chavín had strong connections with other centers in the cen-
tral Andes, and the likelihood is great this involved visits of
outsiders to Chavín. The idea of oracular consultation at
Chavín is widely held (Burger 1992; Lumbreras 1989), but
Chavín also may well have been a place where cult informa-
tion was imparted to nonlocals (Kembel and Rick 2004). Cer-
tainly the organization based at Chavín needed the support
Authority and Power at Chav´ın de Hu´antar 83
Figure 5.13. Chav´ın art showing semirealistic human figures: the cactus-carrying indi-
vidual from the Circular Plaza.
of local populations and even indirect support by distant
populations in the form of contributions of labor or material
channeled through their own elite.
Chavín’s galleries probably served a number of pur-
poses, but they must be understood in the context of a con-
stantly growing site. In the case of the Lanzón Gallery, doc-
umented in detailed fashion by Kembel (2001), the chamber
in which the Lanzón sculpture currently resides was once
an open structure on a much smaller building. The even-
tual construction of the gallery can be seen as an attempt
to maintain access to this image and its location in spite of
subsequent building growth and suggests a willingness to
invest in expensive construction to achieve that end. There
is an interesting convergence between conservatively main-
taining access to traditional sacred locations and perhaps
objects and at the same time radically restricting that access
and even visibility for anyone beyond those privileged to
immediate presence within the galleries. Yet, it could be ar-
gued that nothing has changed; the restriction is just due to
the architectural design limitations on the passageway that
allowed internal visits to the traditionally sacred location. I
suspect this is exactly the type of convenient, tradition-based
arguments that were used by emergent authorities at Chavín
to justify their increasing authority.
Beyond appearing to maintain tradition, could Chavín
have also portrayed itself as an old place, in spite of its
massive and novel architectural imposition in a tight valley
setting? We must try to keep time in perspective—Chavín
for most of its life was an old place, with origins beyond
direct memory of any living person for probably 90 to 95
percent of its existence as an active ceremonial center. The
architecture conserves tradition in most aspects of design
and functionality across its 500–1,000 years of monumental
construction. We still lack knowledge for the earliest build-
ing configuration at Chavín; while at least one early temple
was accessed from the north, in later periods all featured
access comes from the east, along clear-cut axes. Even gal-
leries seem to begin early in construction and continue as a
lasting tradition through the monumental sequence (Kembel
2001). Technology certainly changes through time, with in-
novation in gallery roofing, in cut-stone technology, and
probably the ability to construct massively in a variety of
substrate conditions (Rick in press). Yet, most of these up-
grades are aimed at allowing merely bigger versions of what
84 John W. Rick
Figure 5.14. Chav´ın art in the round, showing the poor visibility of images engraved on
the columns of the Falcon Portal.
came before, not major restructurings of the site template.
Kembel (2001) has argued for increasing importance of out-
side space, presumably to accommodate larger numbers of
participants, but even this is done within temple layouts that
seem congruent with earlier plans.
Understandably our biggest knowledge gap for Chavín
is the very nature of the ritual activities that undoubtedly oc-
curred there. The design of the temple emphasizes straight-
line ceremonial ways to confront the temples and then prob-
ably a much more indirect and probably restrictive access to
temple tops and interiors. Over time, this pathway becomes
multiple, as major access ways are maintained to older por-
tions of the complex, themselves upgraded with new plazas
and depictions, and galleries are added (Rick in press). No-
table is the continuing access to early galleries—we have
detected no gallery that was allowed to be blocked off by
continuing growth or intentionally abandoned, with the pos-
sible exception of the Ofrendas Gallery, which may have
been closed after deposit of a major offering whose contents
covered a large proportion of the overall floor space. Later
constructions, in fact, are carefully designed to preserve con-
tinued access to earlier galleries (Kembel 2001). The Lanzón
Authority and Power at Chav´ın de Hu´antar 85
Figure 5.15. Pottery excavated in the Ofrendas Gallery by Lumbr-
eras, showing the difficultyof understanding the complex, wrapped-
around monster image on the vessel (from Lumbreras 1993).
Gallery, with its central image, suggests that at least one of
the galleries witnessed underground ritual of some sort. The
accumulation of galleries could argue that types or grades of
rituals may have grown in number across time, possibly re-
Figure 5.16. Drawing of engraved cornice from Chav´ın de Hu´antar, mostly excavated
in 2000 from west side of Building A, showing an apparent procession.
flecting subdivisions of ritual content, timing, participants,
or other factors. But the effort put into maintaining access
to traditional locations, perhaps even a partial explanation
for the very origin of the galleries, conforms strongly to the
idea that Chavín was dependent on the past as a justification
for the present, even as the present was changing away from
the past.
Afair number of Chavín engravings seem to repre-
sent processions of multiple individuals. Lumbreras (1989)
has interpreted engraved plaques of humanoid individuals
from the Circular Plaza as a depiction of procession toward
the western, temple-ascending staircase giving access to the
temple top and galleries. Our recent discovery of a cornice
fragment, matched to an earlier known piece of the same
stone, shows two apparent procession scenes on face and
edge, very similar to the Circular Plaza figures (Figure 5.16).
While it is adventurous to infer a direct depiction of rit-
ual activity from such schematic, potentially multireferent
evidence, recent advances in Moche iconographic interpre-
tation would argue that Andean peoples relatively near in
space and time to Chavín did in fact decorate temples with
scenes of ritual activities actually carried out there. Summing
these known processional figures, there seems to be a limited
number of classes of individuals distinguished principally by
what they are carrying, which includes the following:
rBarbed and perhaps fletched spear-like shafts in one hand
and apparently atlatls in the other.
rStrombus or Spondylus shells, with the Strombus being
played during the procession and the Spondylus carried
rA columnar object clearly identifiable as a cactus, proba-
bly the San Pedro cactus of known shamanistic use and of
frequent depiction in other Chavín images (Figure 5.13).
Thus, roles of arms bearers, noise makers, and drug
porters seem to be present. Of these, no arms bearers have
86 John W. Rick
animal attributes or apparently animal-connected acces-
sories; two of three shell bearers have claws or fangs and
some garment or other accessory of serpents; and the drug
bearers not only have fangs, claws, and snake hair, but vir-
tually all their clothing and accessories are transformed to
snakes or eyed entities. This is reminiscent of the transitions
seen in the tenon heads (Burger 1992) and raises the possibil-
ity that processions might be passing through states of being,
instead of or in addition to space. Could a procession thus be
a symbolized space-condition transition, following the tra-
dition of shamanistic processes? These structured attributes
and the likely reference to traditional access to natural power,
symbolized by combining human and long-recognized pow-
erful natural animal forms, seem to conform well to the idea
of building authority by subtle, calculated use of tradition.
Our traditional ideas view Chavín as a religion-based
system with broadly shared icons, but we need to understand
the nature of the strategies that were being employed in
Chavín’s manipulation of concepts. Early authorities were
building contexts laden with symbols and populated with
ritual that was channeled by tradition, fueled by self-
promoting creativity, and aimed at developing paths to au-
thority and power. Clearly we do not know all that went
on at Chavín—so little is preserved of the actions. We
probably have but a small proportion of ritual material
correlates—garb, paraphernalia, and decoration—since
there is little preservation of materials beyond ceramic, bone,
and stone at Chavín and ritual contexts seem to have been
kept exceptionally clean. Still, with its fairly well-known ar-
chitecture and graphic art, Chavín perhaps offers a better
vantage than the average context in which authority was es-
tablished. Quite apparent is a strong use of human ingenuity
applied to the problem of changing belief systems toward
an acceptance and naturalization of authority. There was as
much as a millennium at Chavín for experimentation with
actions, contexts, noises, images, and other phenomena, for
learning how to produce the desired effects in onlookers
and participants. The highly use-worn condition of Strom-
bus trumpets found in the Caracolas Gallery (Rick in press)
corroborates a long tradition of shell-playing, with possible
virtuosity in both noises produced and experienced effects
from the output of these loud instruments in closed, sound-
reflective spaces. Chavín, of course, was not alone in the
For mative Period, and as I have argued elsewhere (Kembel
and Rick 2004), there was both a competitive and a mutu-
ally reinforcing interaction sphere of evolving centers and
authorities that would have formed a greater context for the
development of increasingly effective means to manipulat-
ing beliefs. Looking forward from Chavín times, social insti-
tutions such as belief systems can become more conservative
once authority exists in its own right. This leaves the Forma-
tive as a fascinating time of inherent contradictions, in which
the understanding of human credibilities, and the potential of
actions playing upon them, must have selected for original,
creative, yet tradition-sensitive strategies in those emerging
in positions of power. The potential payoff in increased au-
thority would be great for those who learn to manipulate
credibilities by understanding the effects of media, actions,
and contexts on the susceptibilities of the human mind.
Alteration of belief systems must be necessary in the de-
velopment of systematic authority and inequality. Not only
must belief systems be altered, but also they probably will be
the primary vehicle through which authority is established;
for a time they are more the propeller than the anchor. In fact,
it may be the human ability to create authority-reinforcing
belief systems that is one of the hallmarks that distinguishes
our species from other animals, whose hierarchies tend to be
based on domination-intending forceful actions or the im-
mediate threat of them. I argue there is an intrinsic contradic-
tion between the conservative character and role that belief
systems have and the likely radical role they played in ma-
jor changes in political society. This contradiction leaves us
with the implication that the transition toward greater levels
of authority and inequality is not likely to be a simple pro-
cess of allowing the motivations of a few to easily dominate
others. Rather, it suggests that the use of belief systems in
the transitions was likely highly conscious and strategized.
There is no likelihood that the normally conservative belief
systems would by themselves put in motion the trends to-
ward greater authority in human organization, but rather it is
likely humans recognized the potential of conscious manip-
ulation of belief systems in a strategized trajectory toward
greater levels of realized power. What form this conspiracy-
like forethought might have taken remains to be seen, but I
believe the sophistication seen at Chavín argues for the pri-
macy of the manipulative model of theocratic formation, at
least at this point in the evolution of inequality in the Andes.
Monumental Chavín is not likely to result from random or
system-serving actions of emergent authorities nor anything
approaching the cohesive or devotional theocratic model
mentioned earlier. In the multiple media used or transformed
at Chavín—landscape, architecture, decoration, light, sound,
drugs—I find evidence of finely tuned manipulation on the
part of the site’s planners, executors, and orchestrators. This
wasanattempt to promote a vision of the world at variance
with prior experience, a world of differentiated humans of
intrinsically different qualities, among them authority. This
rebuilding of the sociopolitical world must have been based
Authority and Power at Chav´ın de Hu´antar 87
on deception at some level, in some moments, and for some
individuals. The image of the Wizard of Oz comes to mind;
clearly deceptions may derive from a variety of motivations,
but it strains credibility that such a highly developed system
would have happened without strong intentionality and cog-
nizance on the part of those putting it together. The conjunc-
tion of these means, roles, and intentionalities is what I call a
convincing system, and I believe that such a complex design
for convincing implies a conscious process of developmen-
t—perhaps planning, experimentation, and observation of
the efficacy of the effort. Sites such as Chavín may be key to
our understanding of this critical time, when ambiences, ob-
jects, and organized behavior aimed to create credible state-
ments of differential power through legitimized authority.
Iwould like to thank the hundreds of graduate and un-
dergraduate students, alumni, and professionals, both Peru-
vian and foreign, who have helped in various stages of the
Chav´ın research. Silvia R. Kembel, my former student and
now colleague in Chav´ın research, and Luis G. Lumbreras S.
have shared their insights; most ideas here were developed in
discussion with them. Rosa G. Rick and Maria Mendoza F.
have been instrumental in carrying out the fieldwork and the
subsequent analysis of Chav´ın materials. Officials of Peru’s
Instituto Nacional de Cultura in Lima, Huaraz, and Chav´ın
have authorized and made possible our work in generous
fashion. The townspeople of Chav´ın and their neighbors
have worked with us to make our efforts effective. A spe-
cial thanks goes to the Chav´ın Conservation Corps, a group
of young Chav´ın professionals who are making the past
their future. Our overall work has been supported by Stan-
ford University, the National Science Foundation, National
Geographic, the Heinz Family Foundation, the Asociaci´on
Ancash, Barrick Corporation, and especially the Global Her-
itage Fund. This work owes a great debt to the many archae-
ologists who have worked in Chav´ın over nearly a century;
we stand in their shadow.
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... Since the third millennium B.C., urban centers ruled by sophisticated religious systems were conspicuous in all the sub-areas of the Central Andes (Kaulicke 1994;Shady 1993Shady , 2014. The leaders of these centers deeply influenced the domestic and social lives of Andean communities through the control (cohesive or coercive) of belief systems with the aim of regulating production, labor, and surplus to benefit some corporate groups (Rick 2005;Vega-Centeno 2007). ...
... Throughout the Late Middle Formative Period (800-400 B.C.), Chavín de Huántar was the most powerful ceremonial center of the region, and most other such centers shared a chavinoid iconographic pantheon in the context of peer polity interaction and competition for prestige (Burger 1992;Mesía 2014;Rick 2005). During the transition from the Late Middle Formative to the Late Formative Periods, there was a political transformation from theocratic to secular governments noticeable along all the Central Andes (Billman 1996;Ghezzi 2006;Ikehara 2015Ikehara , 2016Kaulicke 1992;Pozorski and Pozorski 1987;Willey 1953;Wilson 1988). ...
... During the transition from the Late Middle Formative to the Late Formative Periods, there was a political transformation from theocratic to secular governments noticeable along all the Central Andes (Billman 1996;Ghezzi 2006;Ikehara 2015Ikehara , 2016Kaulicke 1992;Pozorski and Pozorski 1987;Willey 1953;Wilson 1988). The regional phenomenon was related to the collapse of the Chavín regional cult and the disintegration of political formations (Burger 1992;Kaulicke 1992Kaulicke , 1994Rick 2005;Rick et al. 2009). ...
Previous studies on settlement patterns have suggested that the prehistoric farmers who inhabited the Peruvian north-central coast during the transition between the Middle and Late Formative Periods (500–400 B.C.) experienced considerable population growth. In this study we assess the mean weaning age of the population recovered at the Quebrada Chupacigarro cemetery in the middle valley of Supe (2739–2153 cal B.P.), using stable isotopes, to test if weaning practices are compatible with this scenario. Stable nitrogen (δ15N) isotopes from bone collagen of 34 individuals (18 subadults and 16 adults) were analyzed by age using a cross-sectional approach with the WARN (Weaning Age Reconstruction with Nitrogen isotope analysis) method. Furthermore, stable carbon (δ13C) isotopes were assessed to identify age-related dietary differences between juveniles and adults. The results show that the introduction of supplementary foods occurred around 6 months of age (95‰ CI: 0.0–1.2 years; 65‰ CI: 0.1–0.9 years), while complete weaning was likely achieved at 2.6 years (95‰ CI: 1.2–4.2 years; 65‰ CI: 1.9–3.5 years). The findings suggest a relatively late age of end of weaning, not necessarily compatible with higher fertility rates. The resultant increased fertility in Quebrada Chupacigarro is plausible only under the hypothetical failure of postpartum infertility mechanisms, modulated by other potential factors from the context, such as culture-driven weaning practices. Estudios previos de patrones de asentamiento sugieren que los agricultores prehistóricos que habitaron la región de la Costa Nor-Central del Perú durante la transición entre los períodos Formativo Medio y Formativo Tardío (500–400 a.C.) experimentaron considerable crecimiento poblacional. Utilizando isotopos estables, en este estudio se investiga la edad promedio de destete de una población exhumada del cementerio Quebrada Chupacigarro (2739–2153 cal A.P.), localizado en el valle medio de Supe, para comprobar si las prácticas de lactancia materna y destete son compatibles con este escenario. Isotopos estables de nitrógeno (δ15N) obtenidos de colágeno óseo de 34 individuos (18 subadultos y 16 adultos) fueron analizados según edad usando un abordaje seccional cruzado con el programa WARN. Además, isótopos estables de carbono (δ13C) fueron utilizados para identificar diferencias dietéticas intrapoblacionales y/o dietas especiales entre subadultos y adultos. Los resultados indican que la introducción de la dieta suplementaria ocurrió alrededor de los 6 meses (IC95‰: 0.0–1.2años; IC65‰: 0.1–0.9 años), mientras el destete final ocurrió a una edad promedio más probable de 2.6 años (IC95‰: 1.2–4.2 años; IC65‰: 1.9–3.5 años). Nuestros resultados sugieren una edad de destete relativamente tardía, no necesariamente compatible con una alta tasa de fertilidad. El incremento resultante de fertilidad en Quebrada Chupacigarro es plausible apenas bajo la hipotética falla de los mecanismos de infertilidad postparto, modulada por otros factores del contexto como hábitos de lactancia materna y destete culturalmente mediados.
... No obelisco Tello, um dos objetos de culto mais singulares e emblemáticos do Horizonte Inicial Andino (Burger, 2008, p. 683), vê-se, por exemplo, um trompete de concha ao seu centro, cercado por várias figuras de felinos, aves rapinantes e répteis (Rowe, 1967, p. 328). Uma figura estilizada de jaguar também aparece na decoração incisa de um trompete de concha (Rick, 2004) 1 . Em um dos frisos líticos oriundos do complexo de templos e praças de Chavín de Huántar, vêse uma figura antropomorfa, com face estilizada de jaguar e com serpentes entrelaçadas como cabelos, segurando uma concha spondyllus na mão esquerda e um trompete de concha strombus na mão direita (Kauffmann, 1978) 2 . ...
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Resumo Estudos etnomusicológicos recentes sobre as flautas xinguanas revelam sistemas de extraordinária complexidade sociológica, simbólica e sonora, abrangendo poética musical, relações de gênero, ontologia política e agência cosmológica. Entretanto, pouco se conhece sobre suas identidades espirituais específicas e as implicações de tais identidades para a economia simbólica dos rituais musicais. O objetivo deste artigo é oferecer uma contribuição ao conhecimento do instrumentarium zoologica Amazonia a partir dos xamanismos musical e visionário-divinatório wauja. O objeto central da minha análise é um trio de flautas de madeira, feito em 1991 e ainda atuante, que tem o jaguar como identidade espiritual e cuja identificação decorre de processos xamânicos. Essa relação entre aerofones e jaguares aponta para o modelo teórico, recentemente proposto, da continuidade ontológica entre seres sobrenaturais e artefatos na Amazônia. Embora a organologia e a materialidade sejam importantes para o entendimento dessa relação, há, porém, um aspecto ainda pouco considerado por esse modelo: a visualidade. Este artigo propõe avançar a hipótese de que a atribuição de identidades espirituais aos aerofones tem uma relação direta com o modo como as transformações corporais são imaginadas pelos xamãs.
... 75 The result was what one scholar has called a 'highly planned ritual context' for the 'manipulation of the human mind through landscape, architecture, images, sound, light, and the use of psychoactive drugs'. 76 Intricate assemblages such as theseinvolving not only drug usage, but communal memory, material culture, and the built environmentwere impossible to duplicate in new settings. ...
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This article reassesses what has been called ‘the puzzle of distribution’: why did some drugs rapidly emerge as global consumer goods in the era of the Columbian Exchange, whereas others remained restricted to regional centres of usage? I argue here that the early modern concept of transplantation allows us to approach the puzzle of distribution from a novel perspective. Early modern intoxicants were not disaggregated, free-floating commodities. Their consumption and trade took place within a larger constellation of social codes, cultural practices, ecologies, and built environments. Psychedelic compounds such as peyote and ayahuasca serve here as case studies for examining how the globalization of drugs involved far more than the transport of the substances themselves. Despite their centrality to numerous societies throughout the pre-Columbian Americas, the larger ‘assemblage’ of material cultures, cultural assumptions, and religious meanings that accrued around these substances made it difficult for them to follow the same paths as commodified drugs like cacao or tobacco.
... Our study focuses on sample collection over an area of 2,640 km 2 that includes the Huaritambo, Mosna/Puccha, and Marañón rivers. This region is archaeologically rich [e.g., 70], with archaeological sites dating from ca. 1100 BCE until the 16 th century [e.g., [114][115][116][117][118][119][120][121][122][123][124][125][126]. ...
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Strontium isotope ( ⁸⁷ Sr/ ⁸⁶ Sr) analysis of human skeletal remains is an important method in archaeology to examine past human mobility and landscape use. ⁸⁷ Sr/ ⁸⁶ Sr signatures of a given location are largely determined by the underlying bedrock, and these geology specific isotope signatures are incorporated into skeletal tissue through food and water, often permitting the differentiation of local and non-local individuals in past human populations. This study presents the results of a systematic survey of modern flora and fauna (n = 100) from 14 locations to map the bioavailable ⁸⁷ Sr/ ⁸⁶ Sr signatures of the Conchucos region, an area where the extent of geologic variability was previously unknown. We illustrate the necessity to examine the variation in ⁸⁷ Sr/ ⁸⁶ Sr values of the different geological formations available to human land use to document the range of possible local ⁸⁷ Sr/ ⁸⁶ Sr values. Within the Conchucos region we found significant variation in environmental ⁸⁷ Sr/ ⁸⁶ Sr values (0.7078–0.7214). The resulting isoscape represents the largest regionally specific bioavailable ⁸⁷ Sr/ ⁸⁶ Sr map (3,840 km ² ) to date for the Andes, and will serve as a baseline for future archaeological studies of human mobility in this part of the Peruvian highlands.
... 577-578, 590). In a parallel case, in the Peruvian Andes the city of Chavin de Huantar (golden age 1800-500 BCE) rose in a pass between the Santa River valley in the Pacific slope and the Marañon River toward the Amazon basin (Rick 2004). ...
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The integration of feedbacks between Holocene planetary history and human development benefits from a change in perspective that focusses on socio-historical periods of stability separated by global-scale events, which we call foundational transitions or bottlenecks. Transitions are caused by social and/or astronomical and biogeophysical events such as volcanoes, changes in solar emissions, climate change such as sea-level/ice volume conditions, biogeochemical and ecological changes, and major social and technical innovations. We present a global-scale cultural chronology that accounts for major changes generated by such events in the late Pleistocene and Holocene. These changes are governed by transitions that make energy more or less available to human groups. The chronology is followed by methodologies to incorporate the innate, Malthusian–Darwinian human tendency to grow systems over time into a helical-feedback equation that provides for testing the hypothesis. A proof of concept test of these ideas using information system-based data from the Maya lowlands in conjunction with other civilizations suggests a troubled transition for the current worldwide economic system because of potentially catastrophic climate impacts and resource constraints on biogeophysical-social resilience in the face of obvious needs of the system to change to a more sustainable mode of acquiring energy. The Maya case implies that change is more likely to transpire because of planetary-scale disturbances/constraints in the Earth (human and planetary) system and will likely lead to strong social disruptions. There may be as many as 200 such case studies to test this idea worldwide. Our analysis suggests that a transition toward sustainability for the current energy dense globalized industrial society will be very difficult.
... Siguiendo los hilos de las prácticas materiales que produjeron y reprodujeron la vida social en Cerro de Oro, se ha puesto particular atención en como las personas y las cosas se enredan para reproducir categorías sociales particulares y significados situados y contextualizados. A lo largo del estudio, se ha priorizado entender a la sociedad Cerro de Oro como parte de un proceso histórico contingente que asume que las sociedades del pasado no tuvieron instituciones estables y efectivas que instauraron un poder asimétrico a largo plazo (Rick 2005). ...
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La presente investigación tiene por objetivo definir la temporalidad y funcionalidad del asentamiento arqueológico Santa María 1, a través del análisis espacial de sus componentes arquitectónicos, registro de materiales arqueológicos en superficie y correlación con otros sitios registrados en la quebrada Yanacoto. Reconocimientos en campo identificaron una densa ocupación del Horizonte Temprano junto a evidencias de posibles aldeas o asentamientos domésticos cuyo registro aporta datos para entender la organización social en un periodo donde las investigaciones se han centrado en la caracterización de los asentamientos con arquitectura pública monumental. Aun siendo de carácter preliminar, la información reunida permite proponer que Santa María 1 tuvo una función residencial durante su primer momento de ocupación hacia fines del Periodo Inicial, además de un segundo momento hacia fines del Horizonte Temprano. La arquitectura sugiere que el ordenamiento espacial del sitio corresponde a un patrón planificado con una ocupación temprana asignada hacia los años 900-700, una época clave entre la decadencia de los “templos en U” y una reorganización social en la costa central post-Chavín.
In the pre-Columbian Andes, the use of hallucinogens during the Formative period (900–300 BC) often supported exclusionary political strategies, whereas, during the Late Horizon (AD 1450–1532), Inca leaders emphasised corporate strategies via the mass consumption of alcohol. Using data from Quilcapampa, the authors argue that a shift occurred during the Middle Horizon (AD 600–1000), when beer made from Schinus molle was combined with the hallucinogen Anadenanthera colubrina . The resulting psychotropic experience reinforced the power of the Wari state, and represents an intermediate step between exclusionary and corporate political strategies. This Andean example adds to the global catalogue documenting the close relationship between hallucinogens and social power.
The social differentiation of the Lingjiatan site in middle Neolithic China has long been recognized by archaeologists based on discoveries of a plethora of exquisite jades and ceremonial works. The symbolic and ritual meanings of the elaborate jades have been the main focus of archaeological research, while the social organization and the natures of communities of Lingjiatan societies have received little attention. These aspects, however, provide an excellent context for understanding the various pathways taken by early complex societies. Analysis of a large sample of remains from a systematic complete-coverage survey in the Yuxi River valley of Anhui, China complements the current knowledge of the Lingjiatan site through reconstructing the trajectory of social changes and documenting patterns of social organization as well as the nature and population of communities at local and supra-local scales in this region from the middle Neolithic to historical Zhou (c. 5700–2500 BP). Results suggest that while ritual and ceremonial power seem to be the principal centripetal forces in creating a strong centralized Lingjiatan chiefly polity, the Yuxi survey region is characterized by numerous, relatively autonomous supra-local communities and lacked sociopolitical integration at the larger regional scale.
This article proposes a new ¹⁴ C chronology for the three-phase ceramic chronology from the settlement of Chavín de Huántar based on the AMS dating of collagen extracted from faunal remains recovered during my 1975 excavations. The chronometric estimates for the Chavín de Huántar ceramic chronology are as follows: Urabarriu Phase (950–800 cal BC), Chakinani Phase (800–700 cal BC), and Janabarriu Phase (700–400 cal BC). The new measurements confirm the sequence of the ceramic phases and indicate that the site was established around 950 cal BC and was abandoned by 400 cal BC. The results are consistent with the earlier hypothesis that the major developments at Chavín de Huántar largely postdate the Initial Period fluorescence of early coastal civilization during the second millennium BC, but they cast doubt on some current interpretations of the site's founding and cultural apogee.
The history of Central Andean archaeology reveals a broad array of theoretical approaches, with many significant contributions to archaeological theory as well as methods made by Andeanists. Max Uhle’s (1903) precocious pan-Andean cultural chronology employed early techniques of stratigraphic excavation with a prototype of the horizon concept to formulate one of the first examples of regional space-time systematics. Alfred L. Kroeber’s (1927) Andean work was instrumental in directing archaeological thinking toward issues that transcended chronology, such as patterns of culture and systems of political organization. The Viru Valley Project was the major inspiration for settlement pattern archaeology in the Americas, with its emphasis on social and political organization documented spatially (see Willey 1953). Andeanists have been important contributors to the field of ecological archaeology as seen in their modeling of terminal and post-Pleistocene adaptations in a range of environments (e.g., Lanning 1963; Richardson 1981; Rick 1980; Sandweiss et al., 1998) and attention to the processes associated with early sedentism and domestication (Lanning 1967: chps. 4, 5; Lynch 1980; Moseley 1975a; Patterson 1971; Raymond 1981). Andean archaeologists have contributed significantly to the understanding of environmental perturbations, risk management, and the cybernetics of civilization (Browman 1984; Erickson 1993, 1999; Isbell 1978a; Moseley 1983).
It has been commonplace to describe relatively simple forms of nonegalitarian societies as “tribal” or “ranked.” However, these terms were formulated without reference to causal models and they are vague. My goal is to establish a better understanding of how nonegalitarian societies emerged from an egalitarian hunter gatherer base. This topic has captured the attention of a wide range of scholars over the past several decades, and there exist a number of excellent syntheses of the endeavors directed toward understanding the emergence of complexity (Arnold 1993; Coupland 1988; Earle 1987, 1989; Feinman and Neitzel 1984; Johnson and Earle 1987; Tolstoy 1989). The principal contending schools of interpretation in archaeology view complexity as developing due to population pressure, needs for more efficient management of risk or information; economic efficiency (redistribution), the monopoly of long-distance trade routes; manipulation of social or ideological factors; the simple hiving off of daughter communities resulting in community hierarchies; circumscription (social or geographic), coercive exploitation, ritual values, external threats, labor-intensive investment in productive facilities, other means of controlling resources including irrigation; scalar effects related to increasing community sizes or population densities; storage. There are structuralist and cognitive explanations as well. Rather than review these earlier contributions, I will proceed directly to a discussion of some other questions and data that I have gleaned from both archaeological and ethnographic data.