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Since the Formative times, maize is and has been a highly valued social commodity in the Andes, particularly in the form of a traditional beer called chicha. While chicha production is well attested in the archaeology and ethnohistory of Andean states, the emergence of maize symbolism in earlier societies has not been systematically addressed. In this study phytolith and starch grain analyses are used to trace production, processing, and consumption of maize at sites on the Taraco Peninsula of Bolivia and thus the entrance of maize into the region. We systematically examine the role of maize by addressing its rarity, use contexts, and preparation. The pattern of plant part representation and use suggest that maize was being consumed in the form of chicha at its earliest introduction to the Titicaca Basin (800–250 B.C.). Drinking of alcohol in ceremonial spaces embodies the process of commensality of public ceremony and the establishment of reciprocal relationships during the Formative period. These results demonstrate that contextual analysis of microbotanical remains has great potential to answer anthropological questions surrounding food, ritual, and identity.
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Much like other forms of material trans-
formation, the practices of food produc-
tion, preparation, and consumption are
central to the creation and maintenance of identity
and social relationships. In the Andes, this is par-
ticularly true of maize (Zea mays L.), a crop that
underwrote the expansion of the Inca empire and
continues to be a valuable agricultural product and
subsistence commodity. The role of maize in
Andean cultural identity is expressed through the
hundreds of varieties adapted to local environ-
mental conditions and culinary preferences (Has-
torf, Whitehead, Bruno, and Wright 2006:431), but
also its central role in ceremony, particularly in the
form of maize beer or chicha (Hastorf and Johan-
nessen 1993; Jennings 2005; Jennings and Bowser
2009; Morris 1979; Weismantel 1991).
Chicha (k’usa in Aymara; aqha in Quechua)
can be made from several pla nts, including
Chenopodium, manioc, and Schinus molle berries,
but it achieves its highest value if made from maize.
Chicha consumption is shared among members of
a group and with ancestors and deities. One of the
most common elements of Andean consumption is
Amanda L. Logan, Christine A. Hastorf, and Deborah M. Pearsall
Since the Formative times, maize is and has been a highly valued social commodity in the Andes, particularly in the form
of a traditional beer called chicha. While chicha production is well attested in the archaeology and ethnohistory of Andean
states, the emergence of maize symbolism in earlier societies has not been systematically addressed. In this study phytolith
and starch grain analyses are used to trace production, processing, and consumption of maize at sites on the Taraco Penin-
sula of Bolivia and thus the entrance of maize into the region. We systematically examine the role of maize by addressing
its rarity, use contexts, and preparation. The pattern of plant part representation and use suggest that maize was being con-
sumed in the form of chicha at its earliest introduction to the Titicaca Basin (800–250 B.C.). Drinking of alcohol in cere-
monial spaces embodies the process of commensality of public ceremony and the establishment of reciprocal relationships
during the Formative period. These results demonstrate that contextual analysis of microbotanical remains has great poten-
tial to answer anthropological questions surrounding food, ritual, and identity.
El maíz ha sido y sigue siendo un producto altamente valorado en los Andes, particularmente en la forma tradicional de cerveza
conocida como chicha. Aunque la producción de chicha está bien documentada en la arqueología y la etnohistoria de los esta-
dos andinos, la emergencia de un simbolismo relacionado al maíz en las sociedades anteriores no ha sido sistemáticamente
investigada. En el presente estudio, los análisis de fitolitos y gránulos de almidón son utilizados para entender la producción,
el procesamiento y el consumo del maíz en los sitios bolivianos de la Península de Taraco. El rol del maíz es examinado sis-
temáticamente a través de su rareza, sus contextos de uso y su preparación. En los contextos arqueológicos, la representación
y el uso de las diferentes partes de la planta sugieren que el maíz ha sido consumido en forma de chicha desde su introduc-
ción en la cuenca del Titicaca (800–250 a.C.). El consumo de alcohol en espacios ceremoniales representa el proceso de for-
malización de las ceremonias públicas y el establecimiento de relaciones sociales recíprocas durante el período Formativo.
Estos resultados demuestran que el análisis contextual de los restos microbotánicos tiene un gran potencial para responder a
las interrogantes antropológicas acerca de la comida, los ritos y la identidad.
Amanda L. Logan Museum of Anthropology, University of Michigan, 1109 Geddes Ave., Ann Arbor, MI, USA 48109,
Christine A. Hastorf Department of Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley, 232 Kroeber Hall, Berkeley, CA,
USA 94720,
Deborah M. Pearsall Department of Anthropology, University of Missouri, Columbia, 107 Swallow Hall, Columbia,
MO, USA 65211,
Latin American Antiquity 23(3), 2012, pp. 235–258
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236 LATI N AMERICAN ANTIQUITY [Vol. 23, No. 3, 2012
reciprocity, whether in the form of payment for
work or in food-sharing feasts. A person’s social
status is marked by the order in which they are
served chicha, and whether they act as giver or
receiver. In this way chicha drinking reinforces the
standing social hierarchy. Chicha is also used as an
important offering to mountain deities (such as
modern day apus) or given to the ancestors (Bolin
1998; Chávez 2006; Cutler and Cárdenas 1947;
Hastorf 2003a; Hastorf and Johannessen 1993; Jen-
nings 2005; Jennings and Bowser 2009; Staller
2006; Weismantel 1991). In all cases, both the
drinking and offering of chicha point to shared ide-
ologies of what is important in Andean culture.
Perhaps in part because of the centrality of maize
and chicha to notions of a pan-Andean identity,
scholars have devoted considerable energy to track-
ing the spread of maize throughout the Andes (e.g.,
Johannessen and Hastorf 1994; Perry et al. 2006;
Piperno and Pearsall 1998; Raymond and DeBoer
2006; Staller 2006; Tykot et al. 2006). These data
suggest that maize was adopted for different rea-
sons and at different times across the region, as a
subsistence crop (Pearsall 1999, 2002), as a minor
vegetable (Chávez and Thompson 2006), and/or for
ceremonial uses (Burger and van der Merwe 1990;
Hastorf 1999; Staller and Thompson 2002). Lim-
ited consumption of maize has been presented as
evidence for the presence of chicha (Burger and
van der Merwe 1990), but it is only when we see
the development of large-scale breweries (e.g.,
Moore 1989; Morris 1979) or widespread brewing
operations (Hastorf and Johannessen 1993) that we
have conclusive evidence of beer. This means that
earlier, small-scale production and consumption
events have remained largely invisible (Hayashida
2008; Morris 1979), hampering our ability to under-
stand whether or not maize spread throughout the
Andes in the form of chicha.
In this paper, we employ phytolith and starch
grain analyses to determine the cultural role of
maize at its first introduction to the Titicaca Basin.
We evaluate how maize was used and valued by
investigating three variables: (1) the rarity or dif-
ficulty of procurement, (2) its use contexts, and (3)
the ways in which it was prepared. Analysis of four
sites on the Taraco Peninsula (Bolivia) demon-
strates that maize first appeared in the Titicaca
Basin during the Middle Formative (Late Chiripa)
period (800–250 B.C.) during a time of growing
sociopolitical negotiation. We suggest that the pat-
tern of plant part distribution across ceremonial
contexts and on artifacts indicates that maize was
being consumed in the form of chicha.
Maize in the Andean Past
To evaluate the antiquity and symbolic power of
maize in the Andes, we must understand how its
different uses developed over time. This brief
review focuses on the highlands of Peru and
Bolivia. In modern Andean highland diets, maize
is complemented by tubers, quinoa, legumes, and
beans, which are better suited to the constraints of
high altitude agriculture. Maize is typically pre-
pared through roasting, toasting, boiling, sprouting,
and/or fermentation. Toasted kernels (kancha,
jampi) can be parched in a clay vessel over a fire
until crunchy. Boiling can be accomplished in sev-
eral ways: either soaked first with wood ash or cal-
cium carbonate to loosen the grain skin (mote), or
simply thrown into soups and stews. To prepare
chicha, maize is sprouted, dried, ground, boiled,
and then strained and fermented (Goette et al. 1994;
Hastorf, Bandy, Whitehead et al. 2006; Ramírez et
al. 1961).
In the Andes, the best-known archaeological
and ethnohistorical information on maize comes
from the Late Horizon Inca (A.D. 1450–1540)
(Cobo 1979; Morris 1979; Murra 1980, 1986;
Pizarro 1965[1571]; Poma de Ayala 1987[1615];
Staller 2006). To the Inca, maize was valuable as
a storable surplus that could easily be extracted as
tribute and mobilized to feed troops and laborers.
It could also be transformed readily into chicha,
which was an important instrument of political
power as payment for services rendered and as liba-
tions. Chicha was supplied to laborers as compen-
sation for participation in state-sponsored work
projects (Bray 2003, 2009; Costin and Earle 1989;
Morris 1982). It was also offered as libations after
harvest ceremonies, during feasts, and at the end
of the life cycle, to ancestors (Cummins 2002; Has-
torf and Johannessen 1993; Staller 2006), who dur-
ing imperial celebrations were brought out in their
finery and offered toasts of chicha (Cobo 1979:218;
Cummins 2002; Hastorf and Johannessen 1993;
Pizarro 1965[1571]:192; Staller 2006; Valdez
2006:57). So central was chicha to the Incas that
it was produced in nearly every Inca town by cho-
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sen women (allqas) (Hastorf 1991; Jennings 2005;
Morris 1979) and the Inca capital Cuzco was
referred to as aqa mama or mother beer (Espinoza
1987 in Valdez et al. 2010:25). To the Inca, then,
maize financed the construction of the state in both
its physical and spiritual forms. Chicha was also
an important focus of pre-Inca polities. Hastorf and
Johannessen (1993) document an increasing focus
on the production and consumption of chicha from
Wanka 1 (early Late Intermediate) to Wanka II (late
Late Intermediate). Large-scale production of
chichais also well attested to in the north coast Late
Intermediate Period polity of Chimor (A.D.
900–1470) (Moore 1989).
Maize played some of the same roles in the Mid-
dle Horizon polities of Wari and Tiwanaku (ca.
A.D. 500–1100). A study by Finucane et al. (2006)
suggests that maize was important in Wari subsis-
tence based on remains from Conchopata, where
isotopic analysis suggests that people subsisted pri-
marily on maize and/or maize-fed animals. The
Wari also consumed and underwrote large-scale
production of maize beer, as suggested by the pres-
ence of a grinding facility at Marayniyoq close to
the Wari capital (Valdez 2006), as well as a ceramic
assemblage that includes large “oversized” and
kero-like vessels at other Wari sites (Valdez 2006;
Valdez et al. 2010). The location of many Wari sites
near prime maize production areas is also presented
as evidence of the importance of chicha to the state
(Schreiber 1992). Wari beer made of Schinus molle
berries was also produced on a large scale (Gold-
stein et al. 2009). At Tiwanaku, maize was the sec-
ond-most ubiquitous crop, an importance achieved
only by acquisition of large quantities through
trade, as it cannot be grown in the immediate vicin-
ity (Hastorf, Bandy, Whitehead et al. 2006; Wright
et al. 2003). Such large-scale importation as well
as the contexts of the archaeobotanical finds sug-
gests a subsistence function. Like Wari, the pres-
ence of liquid holding kero-like vessels and large
pots suggests that chicha was probably consumed
throughout the highlands at this time, and was inte-
gral to the expansion of Tiwanaku identity (Gold-
stein 2003). Thus in the Middle Horizon maize
appears to have been consumed in both food and
alcoholic forms, and produced on a sufficiently
large scale to accommodate both purposes.
Maize is also well attested in the Early Inter-
mediate Period Moche (200 B.C.–A.D. 600)
record. Special varieties of maize are found as offer-
ings in burials (Gumerman 1994). On pottery maize
is the most commonly depicted plant, and is often
associated with a Moche deity, suggesting its sym-
bolic importance (Eubanks 1999). Gero (1990)
found evidence of chicha production and use in
public feasts at Callejón de Huaylas during the
Early Intermediate period via clusters of ceramic
strainers found in plazas (200 B.C.–A.D. 500).
From this evidence, it is less clear what role maize
played in daily subsistence, but it is apparent that
maize was an important part of various rituals, as
attested to by its presence in burials, and its asso-
ciation with Moche and other Early Intermediate
Period polity deities and public feasts.
Before the Early Intermediate Period, evidence
for maize is patchy and its function less clear, par-
ticularly in the highland Andes. Based on isotopic
studies, there is some suggestion that maize was
consumed but did not form a major part of the diet
during the Early Horizon at Chavín de Huántar
(850–200 B.C.). These low maize signatures have
been interpreted as representing ceremonial con-
sumption of chicha (Burger and van der Merwe
1990). A comparative isotopic study by Tykot and
colleagues (2006:193) shows that during the Late
Initial Period (1000–800 B.C.)/Early Horizon tran-
sition, maize formed 25 percent of diet at the high-
land site of Pacopampa (bone apatite 13C= –10.3),
while less was consumed at coastal Cardal in the
Lurin valley (bone apatite 13C= –12.8) (Tykot et
al. 2006:194), despite the presence of one cupule
and maize leaf phytoliths (large variant 1 crosses)
in 7 of 12 soil samples tested from domestic and
ritual/ceremonial contexts (Umlauf 1988). Tablada
de Lurin, a coastal Early Horizon/Early Interme-
diate Period site, shows much higher maize signa-
tures (bone apatite 1 3C= 5.7) (Tykot et al.
2006:192). Based on this selection of sites, it
appears that maize consumption in the northern
Peruvian Andes and coastal regions was significant
starting in the Late Initial Period, and may have
increased through time to become a staple, but that
there is considerable local variability (Hastorf
1998). However, with little contextualized
archaeobotanical data available from the central
Andes, it is difficult to evaluate how maize was
used, and if it was ceremonial or domestic in nature.
The earliest well-accepted claim thus far for maize
in the highlands is from a western valley site in
Logan et al.] “LETʼS DRINK TOGETHER” 237
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southern Peru called Waynuna, and dated to
approximately 2050–1650 B.C. (4000–3600 B.P.)
(Perry et al. 2006). Here maize starch grains and
phytoliths were identified on grinding stones in
what appear to be domestic contexts. Maize was
also found in dry caves in Ayacucho in layers dated
to 4400–3100 B.C. and later (MacNeish et al.
1980); however, the maize remains have not been
directly dated.
Based on this evidence, it appears that maize
was adopted and used in various contexts and was
of variable importance depending on local envi-
ronmental and sociopolitical circumstances, rather
than following a simple trajectory of spread
throughout the Andes. However, the type and qual-
ity of archaeological evidence for maize varies and
is sporadic across space and time. We suggest that
the role and cultural value of maize can be sys-
tematically defined through examination of (a) the
context in which it was used, (b) how difficult it
was to produce or procure it (Hastorf 2003b), and
(c) the way in which it was prepared or transformed
(Table 1). If used primarily for subsistence pur-
poses, maize should occur across contexts, espe-
cially in domestic artifacts and residences, be
present in fair quantities and/or show high ubiqui-
ties, and be prepared in ways associated with food
preparation (shucking, boiling, toasting). If maize
is instead used for mostly ceremonial purposes, we
would expect that it is restricted to ceremonial or
special purpose contexts and objects, especially
sunken courts, burials, and elaborate decorated
ceramic vessels, be rare or distributed unequally
across a site, and be prepared in ways associated
with chicha preparation (grinding, fermenting) and
consumption (in liquid form).
Maize and Microfossils
Unfortunately, many of these activities are rarely
preserved in the form of charred plant remains at
archaeological sites. Instead, microfossil tech-
niques (phytolith and starch grain analyses) pro-
vide an ideal way to trace production, processing,
and consumption of prehistoric crops by over-
coming some of the traditional preservation con-
straints of macrobotanical (seed, wood, fruit, root)
remains. Macroremains generally must be charred
to be present in the archaeological record unless
site conditions are desiccated or waterlogged. Con-
sequently, their taphonomic contexts of recovery
are usually limited to activities involving fire, over-
representing cooking activities over consumption
or processing events in the archaeological record.
238 LATI N AMERICAN ANTIQUITY [Vol. 23, No. 3, 2012
Table 1. Variables Used to Determine the Cultural Role of Maize.
Difficulty of
Use Context
Plant part
Represen tation
Type of Ar ch.
Daily food
Kernel, cupule
Kernel, cupule
Phyto, Starch
Macro, Phyto, Starch
Macro, Phyto
Food and
Possibly chicha
Leaf, husk
Kernel, cupule
Kernel, cupule
Kernel, cupule
Phyto, Star ch
Macro, Starch
processing only
Low to high
Special foods
Kernel, cupule
Macro, Starch
Phyto, Star ch,
Phyto, Star ch
Low to high
Ceremoni al
Special food s
Kernel, cupule
Phyto, Star ch,
Phyto, Star ch
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Seeds are often the focus of inquiry because soft
plant parts such as underground storage organs
and leaves rarely survive in identifiable form
(Pearsall 2000).
In contrast, phytoliths are composed of silica,
which is a very durable substance that survives in
all but the most basic (i.e., very high pH) environ-
ments. Rather than being restricted to burning activ-
ities, phytoliths can be preserved anywhere a plant
part is left to decay (e.g., floors, middens, fields,
artifact surfaces). Phytoliths are found across many
plant families, but especially the grasses, which
often produce diagnostic1forms in both leaf and
inflorescence material. Starch grains are not pre-
served in as many circumstances as phytoliths, but
are an important source of data on certain plants
and plant parts that otherwise are untraceable. They
are found in most seeds and underground storage
organs (Pearsall 2000; Piperno 2005; Reichert
1913). For the purposes of this study, application
of microfossil techniques is important because
charred maize remains are rare to non-existent in
Andean Formative period contexts (Bruno 2008;
Whitehead 1999b), and it provides the opportunity
to trace several different plant parts across a wide
variety of contexts, allowing us to address the role
of maize in the Formative period Taraco Peninsula
(Figure 1).
Phytolith production in maize has been inten-
sively studied in South, Central, and North Amer-
ica (see Pearsall 2000:378–392 for a review; e.g.,
Hart et al. 2003; Mulholland 1992; Pearsall 1978;
Piperno 1984). Phytolith methods exist for the iden-
tification of maize leaf (Pearsall and Piperno 1990)
and inflorescence (cupule and glume) (Pearsall et
al. 2003; Thompson 2006) material. As maize leaf
is a byproduct, leaf phytoliths can indicate pro-
duction and initial processing (e.g., shucking) of
maize. Cupules attach the kernel to the cob and are
also a byproduct material, but glumes are often
accidentally incorporated into foods, especially in
the course of grinding. Pearsall et al. (2004), in a
study of residues from stone tools from Real Alto,
infer this mechanism from the presence of both
maize starch and cob phytoliths on grinding stones.
Raviele’s (2010:74–79) experimental study of
incorporation of starch and phytoliths into cook-
ing vessel residues showed only residues made
with green corn on the cob contained abundant
phytoliths. Incidental inclusion of glumes with
mature kernels did not produce phytolith-rich
residues in these experiments. Diagnostic starch
grains are produced in maize kernels (Piperno and
Holst 1998), which are the focus of human con-
sumption. Both of these microbotanical remains
provide evidence for production, initial processing,
food preparation, and consumption (Hastorf 1988)
(Figure 1). Documenting the distribution of these
parts in various contexts should allow for the recon-
struction of how maize was used and prepared in
different parts of a site.
In addition to plant part representation, micro-
fossils can also be used to identify a specific plant
across a number of different contexts (e.g., grind-
ing stones, ceramic vessels, human teeth, soil sam-
ples from ceremonial and domestic areas). This
approach allows for detailed consideration of the
use of particular plants at several sites and contexts,
Logan et al.] “LETʼS DRINK TOGETHER” 239
DATA Phytoliths Starch Macroremains
PARTS Leaf Cupule/Glumes Kernel Kernel Cupule Cob
Byproduct Byproduct Product Product Byproduct Byproduct
CORRELATES Production Initial Food Preparation, Discard/Fuel
Processing Serving, and
Probable Consumption
Figure 1. Recovery technique, plant parts represented, and behavioral correlates. Solid line indicates purposeful
action. Dotted line indicates unintentional incorporation.
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and a fuller assessment of the role of maize in pre-
historic economic and social systems. Table 2 illus-
trates the potential range of activities that can be
accessed through microfossil analysis of various
contexts in the study region.
Given the traditional ways of preparing and eat-
ing maize (above), a series of expectations can be
outlined (Tables 1 and 2). First, maize production
would leave behind concentrations of leaf phy-
toliths in and around domestic and field contexts.
Second, storage and processing would be indicated
if leaf and/or cupule phytoliths and charred cob
fragments were present in domestic contexts. If
maize is cooked in whole kernel form, such as
parching or boiling in stews, one would expect
preservation of whole, charred kernels (and perhaps
cupules) that accidentally fell into cooking fires
(Goette et al. 1994). If maize consumption is pri-
marily in ground form (i.e., flour), as in the case of
porridges, cakes and chicha, residues on grinding
stones may provide some clues, as charred
macroremains of corn are unlikely to exist in the
archaeological record, since it will only come into
contact with fire in the form of flour.
Finally, the context of identified maize remains
is crucial; on the domestic level, charred corn and
cooking residues are reasonable indicators of
household food processing. Private household cer-
emonial consumption in the form of chicha would
yield few charred macroremains, but would show
evidence on grinding tools, and with kernel and
glume microfossils on these as well as floors or
ceramic vessels. Public ceremonial consumption
would be suggested if maize glume and kernel
microfossils were present in restricted ceremonial
contexts and artifacts that are associated with cer-
emony, feasting, or death (Tables 1 and 2).
Sampling and Identification Methodology
For this study, three types of archaeological sam-
ples were examined for phytoliths and starch grains:
charred cooking residues in pots, other artifact
residues, and soil samples from archaeological con-
texts. Artifacts analyzed included grinding stones
(manos and batanes), the interior of ceramic ves-
sels, human teeth, stone knives, hoes, and cere-
monial artifacts, including ceramic “trumpets” and
incensarios or burning vessels (Figure 2). Meth-
ods follow published protocols (Pearsall et al. 2004)
with modifications made for field conditions
(Logan 2006:150–151). Artifacts were sampled in
three fractions, Sediment 1 (dry brush), 2 (wet
brush), and 3 (sonication) to ensure maximum
recovery (in Table 3, these fractions are denoted in
the “Sediment fraction” column). These Sediments
approximate the outside soil (Sed. 1), and the
residues from the artifact surfaces themselves
(Seds. 2 and 3). Charred ceramic residues were
collected with clean metal tools and processed
using a procedure designed by Zarrillo (2004;
Zarrillo et al. 2008) for extraction of starch and phy-
toliths. Soil samples were processed using standard
methods (Pearsall 2000).
There are two approaches in phytolith analysis
for identifying plant taxa in archaeological deposits,
assemblage-based (sometimes employing com-
puter-assisted imaging) and diagnostic (Pearsall
2000). We employed the diagnostic approach in this
study. As part of our research, we devoted consid-
240 LATI N AMERICAN ANTIQUITY [Vol. 23, No. 3, 2012
Table 2. Potential Range of Activities That Can Be Revealed by Maize Phytoliths and Starch Grains at TAP Sites.
Processing Consumption
Sample Type Production Initial Grinding Cooking Fermentation Mastication Ceremonial Domestic
Charred pot residues X?X
Uncharred pot residues ?XX?XX
Grinding stones ?XX X X
Human teeth ?? X XX
Bone tools ?X ?
Stone cutting tools XX
Hoes X?
Ceremonial objects ?? X
Soil samples XXXX ? X X
Note: X indicates that if maize phytoliths or starch occur on this object it may indicate the activity marked depending upon
archaeological context (i.e., a strong association); ? show activities may be represented but will need to be confirmed (i.e.,
a weak association).
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erable effort to testing whether or not existing maize
phytolith diagnostics could be applied in highland
environs, as most have been developed for use in
the Neotropical lowlands (i.e., Pearsall and Piperno
1990; Pearsall et al. 2003), which are home to very
different plant communities. This is important
because there is often considerable overlap among
phytoliths produced in the grass family (to which
maize also belongs), so other potential contributors
to an assemblage in a region must be ruled out to
establish the presence of maize definitively. Con-
sequently we examined phytolith production in leaf
and inflorescence material from every grass fam-
ily genus that occurs today above 3,000 m asl. in
the Andes (36 genera, 52 species), and compared
those phytolith forms to those produced in seven
different varieties of Andean maize (Logan 2006).
Our results indicate that the Andean maize vari-
eties tested do not produce the diagnostic large and
extra-large cross-shaped phytoliths found in the
leaves of lowland maize varieties as described in
Pearsall and Piperno (1990). Perry et al. (2006)
also found this to be the case. While not all Andean
maize varieties have been studied, these results
suggest that the cross-body method may not be an
effective way of identifying maize in highland envi-
ronments. Andean maize leaves have a character-
istic panicoid phytolith assemblage (i.e., abundant
bilobates and related forms).
Maize cupules and glumes produce considerable
quantities of rondel (round to oval or square) bot-
tomed short cells, forms that characterize grasses
belonging to the Pooideae, the grass subfamily that
dominates in the Andean altiplano. In our com-
parative grass study, we found considerable over-
lap between rondel types produced in maize cobs
and those produced in Pooideae grasses of the area,
indicating that methods that rely on rondel forms
for identification (e.g., Chávez and Thompson
2006; Thompson 2006) need to take wild grasses
into account explicitly. Charred wild grass seeds
are recovered from Andean highland sites (e.g.,
Bruno 2008; Hastorf 1993; Lee 1997; Pearsall
1989), and any artifact that is exposed to sediments
comes into contact with phytoliths deposited by
wild grasses. Based on our exhaustive study of
highland grasses, we found two phytolith forms that
are unique (produced only) in maize glumes and
cupules: the ruffle top rondel (Bozarth 1993;
Pearsall et al. 2003; Piperno and Pearsall 1993), and
a new diagnostic form, the narrow elongate rondel
(Figure 3) (Logan 2006; and see Boz arth
1996:401). Maize starch was positively identified
on TAP artifacts based on previously published
identification criteria (Pearsall et al. 2004; Piperno
and Holst 1998; Reichert 1913).
The Study Region
Based on this method, we set out to evaluate the
role of maize on the Taraco Peninsula as a means
to address the timing of its introduction into the
Lake Titicaca region and its role in subsistence and
ceremony. The Titicaca basin is an especially inter-
esting focus, as at 3,800 m asl, it lies above the zone
of successful maize cultivation, yet maize was an
important staple of Tiwanaku (Hastorf, Bandy,
Whitehead et al. 2006; Wright et al. 2003). We
focused on the period immediately preceding the
rise of the Tiwanaku state, when we see the devel-
opment of multi-community polities on the nearby
Taraco Peninsula and throughout the basin during
Logan et al.] “LETʼS DRINK TOGETHER” 241
Figure 2. Examples of archaeological items containing maize: (a) Tiwanaku IV/V Incensario (Kumi Kipa); (b) Human
teeth (Kala Uyani); (c) Mano (Chiripa Quispe).
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242 LATI N AMERICAN ANTIQUITY [Vol. 23, No. 3, 2012
PS# SS# Locus Object/Context
Sediment fraction
Zea mays Narrow elongate rondel
cf. Z. mays Narrow elongate rondel
Z. mays Ruffle top rondel
cf. Z. mays Ruffle top rondel
Arecaceae (palm) spinulose sphere
Cyperaceae (sedge)
Cucurbitaceae/Asteraceae hair
Scirpus sp. (sedge)
Nodular sphere (multiple species)
Zea mays
cf. Zea mays
Artifact 2290 309 3114/15 Mano de Moler 1
Residues 2291 310 3114/15 Mano de Moler 2 215
2292 311 3114/15 Mano de Moler 3 1
2308 327 3132-A Mano de Moler 1
2309 328 3132-A Mano de Moler 2 261
2310 329 3132-A Mano de Moler 3 2
2356 358 3109-A Mano de Moler 2 351
2357 359 3109-A Mano de Moler 3 1
2358 360 3109-B Metate fragment 2 65
2359 361 3109-B Metate fragment 3 111
2368 370 3110-B Mano de Moler 2 12
2369 371 3110-B Mano de Moler 3 4 2 1 1
2370 372 3110-A Mano de Moler 2 310
2371 373 3110-A Mano de Moler 3
2384 379 3125 Mano de Moler 2
2385 380 3125 Mano de Moler 3
2386 381 3114/24 Mano de Moler 2
2387 382 3114/24 Mano de Moler 3 2
2388 383 3113 Mano de Moler 2
2389 384 3113 Mano de Moler 3 1
2394 389 565 Slate knife fragment 3 1
2313 332 1326 S Slate knife fragment 3
2361 363 3135 Crucible 2
2362 364 3135 Crucible 3 1
2382 377 3133 Crucible (5 pieces) 2
2383 378 3133 Crucible (5 pieces) 3 1
2363 365 2165 Ceramic trumpet fragment 3
2367 369 3016 Ceramic trumpet fragment 3
Charred Pot 2812 686 3135 Ceramic sherd residue
Residues 2800 674 3129 Ceramic sherd residue
Charred 2797 671 2188 Ceramic sherd residue
Pot 2798 672 2190 Ceramic sherd residue
Residues 2799 673 2052 Ceramic sherd residue
2805 679 2188 Ceramic sherd residue
2806 680 2196 Ceramic sherd residue
2807 681 2200 Ceramic sherd residue
2808 682 2188 Ceramic sherd residue
2809 683 2066 Ceramic sherd residue
2810 684 2052 Ceramic sherd residue
2811 685 2191 Ceramic sherd residue
Artifact 2293 312 5268 Whole Mandible 1 11
Residues 2294 313 5268 Whole Mandible 2 3 2 2
2295 314 5268 Whole Mandible 3 1
2305 324 5282 Right Mandible 1
2306 325 5282 Right Mandible 2 211
2307 326 5282 Right Mandible 3
2390 385 5316 R Right Mandible 2
2391 386 5316 R Right Mandible 3 3
Table 3. Phytolith and Starch Grain Data from TAP Sites.
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Logan et al.] “LETʼS DRINK TOGETHER” 243
Site and Sample Type
PS# SS# Locus Object/Context
Sediment fraction
Zea mays Narrow elongate rondel
cf. Z. mays Narrow elongate rondel
Z. mays Ruffle top rondel
cf. Z. mays Ruffle top rondel
Arecaceae (palm) spinulose sphere
Cyperaceae (sedge)
Cucurbitaceae/Asteraceae hair
Scirpus sp. (sedge)
Nodular sphere (multiple species)
Zea mays
cf. Zea mays
KALA UYANI, continued
Soil 2200 NA 5020 AC--Lower sunken court, lower floor 12
Samples 2201 5238 AC--Midden assoc. with sunken court 4 Starch
2202 5325 AC--Upper sunken court floor 44Not
2204 5345 AC--Upper sunken court, lower floor Analyzed
2205 5380 AC--Sunken court floor, east 25From
2206 5018 AC--Lower sunken court, upper floor 12 Soil Samples
2241 5343 AC--Upper sunken court, upper floor
2244 5184 AC--Sunken court, sloping floor 25
2245 5112 AC--Sunken court, southern floor 13
2247 5111 AC--Sunken court, southern floor 56
2249 5017 AC--Sunken court, pit in floor 2
2250 5233 AC--Midden assoc. with sunken court 11
2251 5294 AC--Sunken court, floor or fill between 1
2207 5170 KU--Unknown use ceremonial structure 3
2242 5154 KU--Unknown use ceremonial structure 45
2243 5318 KU--Unknown use ceremonial structure 56
2248 5358 KU--Unknown use ceremonial structure 24
2195c 5164 KU--Unknown use ceremonial structure 11
2246 5085 AQ--Single midden event at base of hill 341
2192c 5082 AQ--Single midden event at base of hill 3
Artifact 2296 315 6090 Large hoe 1
Residues 2297 316 6090 Large hoe 2 1 1
2298 317 6090 Large hoe 3
2299 318 6154/6 Ceramic trumpet fragment 1
2300 319 6154/6 Ceramic trumpet fragment 2 1
2301 320 6154/6 Ceramic trumpet fragment 3
2311 330 6080 Scapula comb 3 1
2364 366 6102/6 Trompo 2
2365 367 6102/6 Trompo 3
2395 390 6048 Llama mandible scraper 3 1
Artifact 2302 321 6561/5 Mano 1
Residues 2303 322 6561/5 Mano 2 1
2304 323 6561/5 Mano 3 cf. 1
2312 331 6617 Llama mandible scraper 3
2360 362 6782/5 Tiw. 1 Incensario 2 1331 111
2366 368 6523/5 Tiwanaku Incensario 2 242
2392 387 6673/5 Whole Mandible 2
2393 388 6673/5 Whole Mandible 3
Table 3 (continued). Phytolith and Starch Grain Data from TAP Sites.
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the Middle and Late Formative periods (1500
B.C.–A.D. 500) (Bandy 2004, 2006; Hastorf 2008;
Hastorf, ed. 1999; Janusek 2007; Kolata 1993;
Kolata, ed, 1996, 2003; Stanish 2003).
The beginning of the Formative period in the
Titicaca basin ushers in the first settlements along
with small ceremonial centers and the emergence
of territoriality and domesticated crops. By the
Middle Formative period (800–250 B.C.), clusters
of settlements with civic-ceremonial architecture
that included a sunken court and raised platform
mound emerge in at least eight different regions
around the lake (Hastorf 2008). A form of nested
kin-based allyus may have been developing at this
time and it is postulated that the consolidation of
these groups may have formed the foundations of
the later Tiwanaku state (Albarracin-Jordan 1996).
As part of this consolidation, certain styles of fer-
tility imagery along with ritual paraphenilia-like
ceramic trumpets and burners and temples with
sunken courts appear, a complex of traits designated
the “Yaya-Mama Religious Tradition” (Chávez
1988) or Pa’Ajano (Portugal Ortíz 1981). Along
with these stylistic elements there is an increasing
focus on communication with far-flung groups,
materialized in the form of exotic goods like beads,
copper, salt, stone, and warm valley plants (Has-
torf 2008; Janusek 2008), perhaps including maize
(below). The development of long-distance trade
may have played a critical role in facilitating inter-
244 LATI N AMERICAN ANTIQUITY [Vol. 23, No. 3, 2012
Figure 3. Maize diagnostic phytolith (narrow elongate rondel) for Andes: (a) narrow elongate rondel from modern ref-
erence maize; (b) two narrow elongate rondels in tissue from teeth of possible human sacrifice (Locus 5282) from Kala
Uyuni; (c) and (d) narrow elongate rondels from manos (Loci 3132, 3110) from Chiripa Quispe.
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action and development of economic surplus
(Browman 1978b). Ceremonialism seems to have
escalated first in the southern part of the basin at
sites like Chiripa, but by the Late Formative these
activities intensify at sites like Pukara in the north-
ern part of the basin. In the first half of the Late
Formative (250 B.C.–A.D. 375) people accumu-
lated into multi-community ceremonial centers,
whose stylistic influence spread and developed into
elaborate ceremonial performances with ritual para-
phernalia and imagery. One manifestation of this
process is increasing investment in ceremonial
architecture as illustrated at Pukara where stepped
platforms with multiple sunken enclosures are con-
structed (Chávez 1988; Klarich 2004). Imagery
shifts to scenes of power over bodies, such as dis-
articulated human heads, bodies, and weapons—
beliefs that also appear in the form of human
remains in courts (Chávez 2002; Hastorf 2008;
Janusek 2008). This evidence suggests increasing
status differentiation and elaboration of ritual that
may be designed to accumulate power through dead
enemies (Arnold and Hastorf 2008; Chávez 2002).
By the latter half of the Late Formative (A.D.
300–475) political authority based upon earlier reli-
gious traditions and kin-based ancestor worship
solidifies, particularly at Tiwanaku (Hastorf 2008).
Was maize adopted as part of the changes
sweeping across the basin in the Formative period,
or was it a later development associated with
Tiwanaku? Previous studies suggest that maize was
extremely scarce in the south central Andes during
the Formative (Bruno 2008; Whitehead 1999b). A
single kernel and cupule was recovered from the
Copacabana Peninsula (Lee 1997), and recent phy-
tolith data from the same sites suggest the presence
of maize in residues on four ceramic sherds from
ceremonial contexts dating to 2750 ± 40 B.P. and
later (Chávez and Thompson 2006:425). However,
maize has been noticeably lacking in macrobotan-
ical samples from the well-sampled site of Middle
Formative Chiripa (Whitehead 1999b), and has
been found in only very small quantities in the Late
Formative contexts at Kala Uyuni (Bruno 2008).
It is not until the emergence of the Tiwanaku state
(A.D. 475–1100) that maize becomes an important
part of subsistence and economy (Hastorf, Bandy,
Whitehead et al. 2006; Wright et al. 2003). In fact,
archaeobotanical analysis at Tiwanaku and related
sites suggests that maize is the second-most com-
mon identified taxon, occurring in 25 percent of
the samples (Wright et al. 2003). Based on a study
of maize varieties recovered at Tiwanaku, this
maize was probably imported from low-lying
regions, including Cochabamba and Moquegua
(Hastorf, Bandy, Whitehead et al. 2006). While
some isolated microzones along lake edges permit
cultivation of small-cobbed maize today, it was
probably never viable on a major scale, and such
crops cannot be grown at all in the inland Tiwanaku
Valley (Hastorf, Bandy, Whitehead et al. 2006;
Wright et al. 2003). Instead, it appears that domes-
ticated quinoa and tubers, which are adapted to and
probably domesticated in the altiplano region, were
probably the focus of prehistoric agriculturalists
(Browman 1986; Bruno 2008; Bruno and White-
head 2003; Wright et al. 2003).
To evaluate the role of maize in Formative soci-
ety more fully, we employed phytolith and starch
grain analyses on soil samples and artifacts from
four sites on the Taraco Peninsula. Research at sites
on the Taraco Peninsula has been conducted by the
Taraco Archaeological Project (TAP) directed by
Christine Hastorf and Matthew Bandy since 1992.
The Taraco Peninsula is a narrow stretch of land
that juts into Lake Wiñaymarka, the southern arm
of Lake Titicaca, which lies about 20 km northwest
of Tiwanaku (Figure 4). The first phase of the pro-
ject focused on the excavation of Chi ripa
(1992–1999) (Hastorf, ed. 1999), which had been
excavated previously by others (e.g., Bennett 1936;
Browman 1978a; Kidder 1956).
A full-coverage survey of the peninsula was
completed by Bandy in 2000 (Bandy 2001, 2004).
In this survey he identified other important sites of
the Formative period and established the existence
of dense populations in a circumscribed area he
referred to as the “Taraco Peninsula Polity.”
Bandys survey suggests that important shifts in set-
tlement patterns were occurring on the Taraco
Peninsula during the Formative period (Bandy
2004). In the Early and Middle Chiripa (Early For-
mative) periods, villages fissioned once they
reached a population threshold of about 150 peo-
ple. By the Middle Formative period, villages con-
tinued to grow as fissioning ceased. About the same
time, there is evidence for the emergence of the
“Yaya-Mama Religious Tradition” (Pa’Ajano)
(Bandy 2004; Chávez 1988; Hastorf et al.2005).
Bandy (2004) hypothesizes that the Yaya-Mama
Logan et al.] “LETʼS DRINK TOGETHER” 245
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Religious Tradition, with its emphasis on public
ceremonialism, served a socially integrative func-
tion. By Late Formative (Tiwanaku 1) times the pat-
tern changed as many villages suffered major
population losses. One settlement, Kala Uyuni,
grew significantly, perhaps signifying that it was
politically dominant over the peninsula during this
time (Bandy et al. 2004; Hastorf et al. 2005). The
second phase of TAP’s research focused on defin-
ing this Late Formative polity and these settlement
shifts through excavation of three village sites near
the tip of the peninsula: Kala Uyuni, Sonaji, and
Kumi Kipa (Tables 3 and 4). We discuss these sites
and the results of phytolith and starch grain analy-
ses at each below.
Archaeological Results
To date, a total of 27 artifacts, 18 charred ceramic
residues, and 20 soil samples have been examined
from this region, from the sites of Chiripa, Kala
Uyuni, Kumi Kipa, and Sonaji. Table 3 lists the
results in detail by type of sample analyzed (soil,
artifact residues, charred pot residues) and site.
Here we provide background information on the
sites examined and discuss our results from each.
Chiripa is known as one of the earliest village cen-
ters in the Titicaca Basin due mostly to the archae-
ological research history. Its primary Formative
architecture is a stepped platform mound with 14
distinct double walled structures around a central
sunken court. Hastorf’s (ed. 1999) team has inves-
tigated outlying structures that date to the Middle
Formative (Early through Late Chiripa) periods
(1500–200 B.C.). Phytolith and starch samples
reported here come from two off-mound locations
at Chiripa. One is the sunken enclosure Quispe, a
Middle Formative (Late Chiripa) structure with
stone architecture interpreted as a ceremonial
enclosure (Paz Soria 1999; Roddick 2002). Also
studied were charred residues from pot sherds from
Santiago, an enclosed civic area dating to the Mid-
dle Chiripa period (1000–800 B.C.) (Dean and
Kojan 1999).
246 LATI N AMERICAN ANTIQUITY [Vol. 23, No. 3, 2012
Figure 4. Map of study region and sites analyzed.
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At Chiripa, six out of 17 items sampled con-
tained evidence of maize. Maize phytoliths and/or
starch grains were uncovered on six grinding stones
within an early Middle Formative (Late Chiripa)
Quispe enclosure dating to 800–250 B.C. (Figures
2c, 3c, 3d, and 5). These stones were probably
deposited toward the end of the enclosure’s use
life, suggesting a date around 250 B.C. for this
maize grinding. Importantly, the Quispe enclosure
is part of the ritual sector of the settlement, and it
has been suggested based on ceramic studies that
it served as a special purpose food preparation area
for feasts and ceremonial goods production (Paz
Soria 1999; Roddick 2002). While no soil samples
were analyzed from Chiripa, the strong presence
of maize on manos and batán fragments from this
context suggests that maize was being prepared
there— possibly for special events or feasts. No
maize was encountered in the 10 charred ceramic
residues from Santiago (discussed below).
Kala Uyuni
Kala Uyuni is approximately 10 km WSW from
Chiripa on the peninsula and roughly contempo-
raneous with Chiripa. In its Middle Formative
phase it was 5.25 ha in size (Bandy 2004:331) and
included two Formative sunken courts atop a large
hill (Area AC), with a significant domestic com-
ponent at the base (Area AQ) (Bandy and Hastorf
2007; Hastorf, Whitehead, Bruno, and Wright
2006). The upper sunken courts were built at
around 800–400 B.C., with a remodeling event at
about 550 B.C. (Bandy 2007:107). The Late For-
mative (Tiwanaku 1) phase is represented by exca-
vation of several stone walled structures that may
have had ceremonial functions (Area KU) (Bandy
et al. 2004; Bandy and Hastorf 2007; Hastorf,
Whitehead, Bruno, and Wright 2006). Soil sam-
ples and residues on human teeth primarily from
the sunken courts and associated midden contexts
were analyzed.
At Kala Uyuni, maize phytoliths were uncov-
ered in 13 out of 20 soil samples spanning all occu-
pation phases from three sectors of the site. These
include the Middle Formative (Late Chiripa)
sunken courts at the top of the hill (AC) (n= 8),
one sample from a Middle Formative domestic
midden (AQ) (n= 1), and in soil from a nondo-
mestic Late Formative stone structure (KU) (n=
4) (Bandy et al. 2004; Bandy and Hastorf 2007).
Maize phytoliths were found on the teeth of one
burial, and a maize starch grain on the teeth of
another (Figure 2b and Table 3). Interestingly, one
of the burials (Locus 5282) was an individual who
had been decapitated and buried underneath one of
the walls of the lower sunken court (Cohen and
Roddick 2007). This suggests the consumption of
maize at some point at or immediately before death
and construction of the sunken court, either as part
of a sacrificial rite or in eating maize or drinking
chicha with community members. In sum, the
recovery contexts of maize at Kala Uyani, in sunken
court floor contexts and associated burials, further
establish its association with ceremonial activities.
Sonaji and Kumi Kipa
Sonaji and Kumi Kipa are two components of the
same settlement near the tip of the peninsula that
became imp ortant in the Lat e Formative
(Tiwanaku 1b) phase. Sonaji was probably the cer-
emonial component of the village, displaying what
seem to be three terraces leading up to a platform
with cut stones containing a high percentage of
decorated and serving wares. Kumi Kipa is larger
(11 ha) and is at least part of the residential com-
ponent of the site (Bandy et al. 2004). Although
Logan et al.] “LETʼS DRINK TOGETHER” 247
Table 4. Chronology of the Taraco Peninsula.
Dates Lake Level Titicaca Basin Study Region Sites Analyzed for this study
A.D. 475-1100 High Tiwanaku IV/V Tiwanaku IV/V Kumi Kipa, Sonaji
A.D. 300-475 High Late Formative II Tiwanaku 3 --
A.D. 100-300 Low Late Formative I Tiwanaku 1b Kumi Kipa, Sonaji
250 B.C.-A.D. 100 High Tiwanaku 1a Kala Uyani (KU)
500-250 B.C. Low Middle Formative Late Chiripa 2 Kala Uyani (AC, AQ)
800-500 B.C. High Late Chiripa 1 Chiripa Quispe
1000-800 B.C. Low Early Formative Middle Chiripa --
From Bandy et al. 2004; Bandy 2005; Bandy and Hastorf 2007; Hastorf 2008; Hastorf et al. 2005; Whitehead 1999a.
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stone architecture was found at Kumi Kipa, the site
is highly deflated, and thus is not the focus of the
phytolith study.
At Kumi Kipa, few well-defined Late Forma-
tive period contexts were encountered. One excep-
tion was a structure, whose use is still unknown,
which held one nearly complete Late Formative
ceramic burning vessel (incensario) that we sam-
pled and found to contain maize and exotic palm
phytoliths. A later Tiwanaku IV/V incensario (Fig-
ure 2a) from a burial at the same site also contained
maize phytoliths. A single grinding stone from
Kumi Kipa was also sampled, but no evidence for
maize was encountered. Here maize use also
appears to be limited not to domestic objects or con-
texts like grinding stones, but to incensarios, used
to burn offerings associated with ritual activities,
especially burial practices.
Sonaji yielded no definitive evidence of maize
out of five samples studied, with the exception of
probable maize phytoliths on a large ceremonial
stone hoe. The hoe is extremely large and proba-
bly was not actually used in fields. Importantly, all
five samples analyzed from Sonaji were from
domestic contexts.
In sum, phytolith and starch grain data from the
Taraco Peninsula establish that maize was present
beginning in the Middle Formative (Late Chiripa)
period (800–250 B.C.) at the regional centers of
Chiripa and Kala Uyuni. It was also present in Late
Formative (250 B.C.–A.D. 200) contexts at both
Kala Uyuni and Kumi Kipa. Maize is located in
ceremonial contexts (sunken courts, special pur-
pose food preparation areas) and its presence on
incensarios and teeth of a human sacrifice suggest
a link to rituals involving death. Below, we inves-
tigate how maize was prepared as a way to deter-
mine its cultural value in life and death.
Maize in Formative Taraco Foodways
Given these recovery contexts, maize clearly served
an important function in ceremony on the Taraco
Peninsula at its first introduction to the basin and
prior to the rise of Tiwanaku. To what degree did
the inhabitants incorporate this crop into local cui-
sine? In this section we evaluate whether or not
maize was produced locally and how it was prepared
and consumed through examination of plant part
representation and their distribution across contexts.
At 3,800 m asl, the Titicaca Basin is above the
elevational limit of Andean maize cultivation
(3,650 m asl), and it has been argued that maize
production did not occur or was rare during the
Formative period even at that elevation (Bruno
2008; Hastorf, Bandy, Whitehead et al. 2006),
though limited cultivation of maize is possible
alongside the protected lake shores. Phytolith evi-
dence may be able to attest to local production of
maize if byproduct material— leaves and husks—
are present in archaeological deposits; however,
as discussed above, the large and extra-large
crosses used to identify maize leaves in the low-
lands (Pearsall and Piperno 1990) are not produced
in highland Andean maize. Andean varieties do
produce small and medium cross and large bilo-
bate forms, which are rare in the Pooideae-domi-
nated altiplano grasslands,2so high concentrations
of these forms could suggest the possible presence
of maize husks and leaves. However, there were
no accumulations of these forms in any of the sam-
ples analyzed. It is also likely that the contexts sam-
pled are locations where maize was cooked or
consumed, and that initial processing of maize
(i.e., shucking) took place elsewhere, perhaps in
individual farmer households.
Maize also may have been acquired from else-
where in an already processed state (kernels or
sprouted maize, a form ready for chicha brewing),
where the leaf and husk material would have
already been removed. Such maize trading occurs
today through ayllu(extended kin) networks, where
different family members inhabit and exploit dif-
ferent ecological zones (Allen 1988). In this verti-
cal archipelago model, subsistence and sumptuary
crops from one zone are traded for those from
another (Murra 1972), for example potatoes from
the altiplano for maize and chilies from low-lying
valleys (Hastorf, Bandy, Whitehead et al.
2006:431). Long-distance trade through camelid
caravans is also a possibility (Browman 1978b;
Dillehay and Núñez 1988). Unfortunately, using
phytolith and starch data alone at this time we can-
not definitively distinguish whether maize was
imported or produced locally.
Paleoenvironmental data provide some clues
relating to the question of maize cultivation on the
Taraco Peninsula. Paleoclimatic studies from Quel-
ccaya ice cores (Thompson et al. 1985) and cores
from Lake Wiñaymarka (Abbott et al. 1997) show
248 LATI N AMERICAN ANTIQUITY [Vol. 23, No. 3, 2012
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alternation of arid and humid phases during the
Late Holocene. In the Lake Titicaca Basin, these
fluctuations had a dramatic effect on lake levels,
which probably impacted cultivation activities (see
Binford et al. 1996; Erickson 1999; Kolata and Ort-
loff 1996; Ortloff and Kolata 1993). Since Lake
Wiñaymarka is rather shallow, rarely exceeding 20
m in depth, even a small decrease in lake depth
exposes large expanses of ground surface (Bandy
2005). Lake levels may have especially influenced
the production of maize on lake edges. Maize is
not suited to conditions on the altiplano except in
select microclimates around lake edges because
maize is particularly sensitive to the number of
frost-free days, to aridity, and to altitude. The
regions surrounding the lake are warmer, receive
more rainfall, allow a longer growing season, and
have richer soils, making them productive habitats
for agriculture (Erickson 2000). High lake levels
act to increase the number of frost-free days, and
would increase the maize-growing potential of
areas near the lake edges.
Chronologically, humid periods and corre-
sponding high lake level stands occur during the
Middle Formative phase, Late Form ative
(Tiwanaku IA, Tiwanaku III), and Tiwanaku IV/V
phases (Bandy 2005) (Table 4). During these peri-
ods, one would expect that maize cultivation was
more likely, or at the very least, more productive,
than in arid, low lake level periods. While avail-
able dates and samples are limited, phytolith and
starch evidence for maize on the Taraco Peninsula
seems to coincide with these periods, occurring in
Middle Formative contexts at the site of Chiripa-
Quispe, and in Late Formative I times at Kala
Uyuni and possibly Kumi Kipa. There is minimal
or no evidence of maize in Late Formative II occu-
pations of Sonaji and Kumi Kipa. Finally, maize
macroremains begin to be common at Tiwanaku
Valley sites during Tiwanaku IV/V times; maize
was probably acquired from trade with low lying
regions some distance away (Hastorf, Bandy,
Whitehead et al. 2006; Wright et al. 2003), but it
is also possible that at least some of the maize was
obtained from the nearby Taraco Peninsula.
Given that climatic conditions were favorable
for maize production around the lake edges during
the Middle and Late Formative times, one cannot
exclude the possibility that maize selection and cul-
tivation began on a small-scale on the peninsula,
as suggested by Chávez and Thompson (2006).
Based on their analysis of rondel phytolith assem-
blages on four pot sherds from the nearby Copaca-
bana peninsula, a cluster analysis of squared chord
distance values showed the ancient samples clus-
tered most closely to each other and to modern alti-
plano and Argentinian pop corn (Chávez and
Thompson 2006:425). Whether or not it was cul-
tivated locally during this time, maize appears only
rarely in Formative archaeological contexts. Phy-
tolith and starch finds are concentrated in ceremo-
nial areas. Charred maize remains are altogether
lacking or occur in very limited quantities at Chiripa
(Whitehead 1999b), Kala Uyuni (Bruno 2008), and
the Copacabana Peninsula (Lee 1997), suggesting
limited availability, and low-level, restricted use of
maize at the time of its introduction to the basin.
Plant part representation provides interesting
insights into how maize was incorporated into
local foodways. First, the absence of maize leaf
material is difficult to interpret, though it does not
appear on other artifacts with a probable domes-
tic function that may speak to initial processing
(specifically removing kernels from cobs), such
as bone and stone cutting tools. Likewise, there
is little evidence for cooking maize at this time.
Although 18 charred pot residues were analyzed,
none contained any evidence for maize. This is
confirmed by stable isotope analysis of charred
pot residues from Chiripa, which determined that
the vessels likely contained C3 plants (such as
quinoa and tubers), not C4 crops like maize
(Miller 2005:12–13, 52). These results suggest
that cooking maize as a porridge or stew was not
a common activity at the Taraco Formative set-
tlements (though it may have been cooked occa-
sionally on the Copacabana Peninsula, where
maize was identified in pot residues [Chávez and
Thompson 2006]). Uncommon cooking of maize
is further supported by the fact that charred maize
kernels and cupules, which would suggest roast-
ing, boiling, or some other exposure to fire, are
lacking at the Taraco settlements (Browman 1986;
Bruno 2008; cf. Moore et al. 2007; Whitehead
1999b). In fact, the only evidence for maize pro-
cessing are phytolith and/or starch residues on
grinding stones, but these too are localized at
Chiripa’s Quispe, a ceremonial space that con-
tained high amounts of decorated and serving
wares as well as exotic materials.
Logan et al.] “LETʼS DRINK TOGETHER” 249
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Instead, there is evidence for Formative maize
consumption and intentional deposition. The
majority of maize finds are in the form of phytoliths
from cupules or glumes and starch grains from ker-
nels. Cupules attach the kernel to the cob, and may
indicate processing or consumption, depending on
the recovery context. While cupules are not inten-
tionally consumed, fragments may be inadvertently
incorporated into food products. Furthermore, the
same phytoliths are produced in hard and soft
glumes (Pearsall et al. 2003:625), which are com-
mon inclusions in foods, especially when ground.
Given that there are no charred maize cob or cupule
fragments present, but phytolith finds are localized
on teeth of a sacrificed individual and in ceremo-
nial contexts, especially burials and sunken courts,
it is more likely that consumption activities are rep-
resented in our investigation. This is supported by
the occurrence of starch grains from maize kernels.
It appears that the majority of maize find localities
represent areas where maize was either prepared
for, consumed during, or deposited as part of cer-
emonial activities (Table 5).
One explanation for this pattern is that maize
may have been used primarily to make chicha. The
lack of maize macroremains, but the presence of
maize glume phytoliths and kernel starch grains in
Formative period contexts suggests that maize was
being processed and prepared with limited expo-
sure to fire, which fits the expectation for con-
sumption of maize in liquid form rather than for
more staple subsistence purposes. The selective
pattern of plant preservation and part distribution
we have encountered does not seem to match
expectations of the ethnographic potential range of
cooking activities— stews and porridges, toasting,
earth oven baking (Moore et al. 2007), although we
acknowledge that there may be no appropriate mod-
ern analog for the Formative foodways. Maize does
not appear in charred form— in spite of systematic
macroremain recovery efforts— negating toasting
or earth oven baking techniques, and maize phy-
toliths and starch as well as C4 isotope signatures
are conspicuously absent from charred pot residues
(Miller 2005), where one would expect to see them
if porridge or mote was cooked. Macrobotanical
analysis shows the intensive use of quinoa in both
ceremonial and domestic contexts at Kala Uyuni
(Bruno 2008). Bruno (2008) suggests that local
foods were the focus of ceremonial or group feast-
ing events. It is possible that fermented beverages
made from these local plants, especially quinoa,
may have predated or persisted alongside the use
of maize beer, though this is difficult to track using
available methods. What the evidence does indi-
cate is that maize beer was added at the same time
as a host of other changes associated with the Yaya-
Mama Tradition were sweeping across the basin.
The Role of Chicha in
Formative Taraco Society
What does the presence of chicha in contexts pre-
ceding the rise of Tiwanaku suggest about identity
and ritual on the Taraco Peninsula at this time? Can
we assume that its presence represents the same sort
of hierarchical and reciprocal relations that char-
acterized chicha consumption in more recent
times? Although the presence of chicha in archae-
ological contexts is often considered a socially
potent symbol of pan-Andean identity, several
authors in a recent volume (Jennings and Bowser,
250 LATI N AMERICAN ANTIQUITY [Vol. 23, No. 3, 2012
Table 5. Summary of Activities Represented by Phytolith and Starch Finds at TAP Sites.
Processing Consumption
Sample Type Production Initial Grinding Cooking Fermentation Mastication Ceremonial Domestic
Charred pot residues Absent
Uncharred pot residues
Grinding stones Yes Yes Inferred Yes Absent
Human teeth Possibly Yes
Bone tools Absent
Stone cutting tools Absent
Hoes ?
Ceremonial objects ??Yes
Soil samples Absent Absent Absent Absent ? Yes Present
in 1 sample
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ed. 2009) have raised two important concerns: (1)
the lack of methods for directly tracing fermented
beverages, and (2) in cases where we can demon-
strate the presence of chicha, whether or not we
should infer the properties of modern chicha pro-
duction, preparation and consumption onto archae-
ological cases (Allen 2009; Hayashida 2009;
Jennings and Bowser 2009; Weismantel 2009; see
Stahl 1993). As an early example of chicha con-
sumption in the Andes, we attempt to disentangle
continuities and discontinuities between Forma-
tive and later chicha related practices to ascertain
what role drinking may have played in Formative
Taraco society.
Based on our limited evidence, production in
Formative Taraco seems to have occurred on a
much smaller scale than in later state level soci-
eties. There is no evidence for large-scale chicha
brewing facilities on the order of what is found in
later polities, such as the Wari in Moquegua (Gold-
stein et al. 2009) or the North Coast Chimu (Moore
1989). Instead, it appears that chicha was either
imported or produced on a household scale. Chicha
spoils relatively quickly, leading to a bottleneck in
how much can be prepared ahead of time or stored;
hence it is likely that it was produced locally and
consumed quickly (Jennings 2005). Today, in high
elevations zones unsuitable for maize production,
maize is traded into the area through allyu or fam-
ily networks extending into lower lying valleys,
both in raw and finished (chicha) form (Allen
1988). Chicha brewing can also easily be scaled
up or down, depending on demand (Jennings and
Chatfield 2009); it is reasonable to assume that
Formative Taraco women (or possibly men) pos-
sessed the same capabilities. Indeed, the remains
of grinding stones with maize residues as well as
exotic serving wares in the Quispe structure, which
is just adjacent to the main mound at Chiripa, hints
at pooled labor for special purpose events.
While the scale of production probably varied
considerably over time and space, preparation
methods of chicha production likely followed the
same basic steps: maize grain selection, removal
of kernels, soaking, germination or mastication,
drying, grinding, cooking, straining, and fermen-
tation (Moore 1989: 687). Unfortunately, it would
be very difficult to demonstrate deviations from this
process in the archaeological record using avail-
able methods; further ethnoarchaeological obser-
vations of chicha preparation may provide some
clues (Hayashida 2008, 2009).
Most of our evidence speaks to practices of
chicha consumption. The contexts of possible
chicha recovery are ritual and restricted in nature
(sunken courts, burial offerings, and a sacrifice).
This is in contrast to later Tiwanaku, where maize
and chicha consumption occurred in quotidian and
ritual contexts alike (Anderson 2009; Goldstein
2003; Wright et al. 2003). The shift from an exotic
that is used only rarely or by just a few to that of
everyday commodity is a common process of
incorporation for many exogenous foods and
drinks. Anderson (2009) has convincingly demon-
strated a similar shift in the Cochabamba region,
where use of chicha-related vessels is restricted to
certain individuals and contexts in the Formative,
but becomes part of the everyday repertoire after
the region comes under Tiwanaku influence. Like-
wise, Goldstein (2003) has argued that the con-
Logan et al.] “LETʼS DRINK TOGETHER” 251
Figure 5. Example of maize starch grain on mano from Chiripa Quispe (Locus 3132), in transmitted (left) and polarized
(right) light.
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sumption of maize beer was an important culinary
shift associa ted wit h the expansio n of th e
Tiwanaku state, though our evidence suggests that
it began much earlier.
Perhaps most interestingly, our data present a
unique glimpse into the performance of relation-
ships in the past that allows interesting comparisons
to more recent observations. Through use of micro-
botanical data, we can see chicha being drunk by a
person soon to be sacrificed as part of sunken court
construction, later being shared with the (same?)
members of the community in those same structures,
and finally, offered to the dead in incensarios. In
these archaeological moments, one is tempted to see
traces of the modern Andean cosmology that
emphasizes reciprocity and the flow of circulating
currents or life essence (samior enqua), where offer-
ings of chicha to both the dead and living are an
important element of keeping the social and polit-
ical world in order (Hastorf 2003a; Hastorf and
Johannessen 1993; Jennings and Bowser 2009:10;
Staller 2006:453). We should emphasize that we are
not inferring that this exact cosmological package
existed in the Formative; rather, we wish to trace
which elements of it may or may not have emerged
on the Taraco Peninsula during this period.
Reciprocity is a “core Andean value” that is
thought to have great antiquity in the Andes, and
is regularly performed through the act of provid-
ing and drinking chicha (Arnold and Hastorf 2008;
Cummins 2002; Staller 2006; Weismantel 2009).
Both today and in the recent past, chicha is often
consumed at work parties or feasts, both of which
involve reciprocal exchange of alcohol for labor or
support. In short, those who work together, drink
togetherand this pattern extends far beyond the
Andes (Dietler 2006). It is perhaps not surprising
that chicha first appears in this area around the time
civic architecture was being constructed. Both sug-
gest that communal work parties were active at this
time and there was an increased interest in com-
munity building, both physically and socially. In
many ways the ceremonial burials and the associ-
ated rituals and drink again show how the dead
make a place alive (Ho 2006).
The socially integrative role of drinking alco-
hol is important for understanding chicha con-
sumption, particularly during a time of
multi-community polity formation, as in the Late
Formative Taraco region. However, drinking prac-
tices also act to create and maintain fundamental
distinctions between people. Spatial demarcation
of drinking locales and locations of different fac-
tions, especially relative to one another, are impor-
tant in defining public versus ritual space, and the
relative status of different groups (Dietler 2006).
In the Andes today, ceremonial consumption of
chicha is communal, and is consumed at many
social events, as well as in household gatherings
(Allen 1988; Weismantel 1991). Alcohol is prof-
fered by a host to recipients in a prescribed order
and fashion that serve to create and re-create hier-
archy (Allen 1988). Distinctions between how
much one can consume or is allowed to consume
also under score differences or asymmetries
between social groups in terms of status, gender,
and wealth (Allen 1988; Weismantel 1991). Give-
away feasts in particular are powerful displays of
these distinctions (Dietler 2006). In short, drinking
rituals are an active way of creating, reinforcing,
and re-creating identity and hierarchy in a very
public and highly visible setting.
Our evidence for chicha coincides with other
lines of archaeological evidence that suggest that
such commensality of public ceremony was devel-
oping actively during the Middle Formative period
(Bandy 2006, 2007; Beck 2004; Hastorf 2003a,
2008). During the Middle Formative phase, there
is an increase in decorated and specialized serving
ceramics associated with public architecture at both
Kala Uyuni and Chiripa. This includes larger serv-
ing and food preparation vessels, as well as the
appearance of ceremonial performance forms like
ceramic trumpets and incensarios (Steadman
2007:107). However, at the onset of the Late For-
mative I phase at Kala Uyuni, there is a shift away
from large serving bowls as small single-serving
size bowls appear in num ber (Steadman
2007:110–111). Steadman suggests that these may
have served either as single servings of food or as
drinking vessels, perhaps replacing perishable ver-
sions that may have existed during the Middle For-
mative times.
There are also significant changes observed in
the Formative settlement patterns (above, Bandy
2004) and public architecture around the same time
(Beck 2004; Cohen and Roddick 2007; Hastorf
2003a). A major reorganization of public ritual
space occurs at Kala Uyuni, Chiripa, and Alto
Pukara during the late Middle Formative phase
252 LATI N AMERICAN ANTIQUITY [Vol. 23, No. 3, 2012
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(Bandy 2007; Beck 2004). At Kala Uyuni, sunken
courts are built at the beginning of this phase
(800–400 B.C.), at the same time as a stepped plat-
form has begun to be constructed at Chiripa, with
small structures encircling a plaza (Lower House
level). Likewise, remodeling of both the sunken
courts at Kala Uyuni and the construction of the
Upper House level at Chiripa occurred at roughly
the same time during the middle of this phase
(approximately 550 B.C.) (Bandy 2007:137). Fur-
thermore, stone objects (both stelae and small,
portable objects) carved in the Yaya-Mama/Pa’A-
jano style appear at both sites (Chávez 1988; Cohen
and Roddick 2007; Hastorf 2008).
The presence of what appears to be chicha in
ceremonial contexts for the first time, as well as
changes in ceramics, public architecture, and
iconography, suggest that a major social transfor-
mation was occurring on the Taraco Peninsula
beginning in the Middle Formative period (Bandy
2007; Hastorf 2003a, 2008). The presence of alco-
hol and associated drinking activities suggests that
social boundaries were becoming more marked,
and that a reorganization of labor may have been
occurring. Finally, the appearance of maize coin-
cides with the appearance of the Yaya-Mama tra-
dition, an arguably new ritual and symbolic system
that was differentially present across much of the
Titicaca Basin (Chávez 1988; Stanish 2003). Along
with consumption of chicha, many of these social
and symbolic elements persist in Andean society
up to the present day.
In this paper we used phytolith and starch grain
analyses to trace the introduction of maize into the
Titicaca Basin. At Chiripa, maize first appeared in
the Middle Formative period (800–250 B.C.),
likely in the form of maize beer or chicha. The tim-
ing of its adoption was probably not accidental; the
Middle Formative was a time of growing sociopo-
litical negotiation and increased consolidation
achieved in part through shared ritual practices.
One of these— the practice of drinking chicha
togethermay have provided just the social glue
that the inhabitants of Formative Taraco needed.
Based on our evidence to date, it appears that chicha
was rare, and restricted to special purpose events
that took place in sunken courts and with the dead.
These practices intensified into a “chicha mania
that became a cornerstone of Tiwanaku identity,
economy, and diet, perhaps motivating the state to
expand beyond its altiplano environment and gain
access to maize growing lands (Goldstein 2003).
We now know that the desire for chicha was rooted
in an ancient tradition of drinking together.
Acknowledgments. Funding was provided by NSF grant BCS
Archaeology # 0234011 to CAH. Many thanks to all mem-
bers of the Taraco Archaeological Project for helpful com-
ments and sample collection, especially Maria C. Bruno
(Dickinson College), José Capriles (Washington University
in St. Louis), and Melanie Miller (University of California-
Berkeley). Sonia Zarrillo (University of Calgary) kindly sup-
plied the procedure for phytolith and starch extraction from
ceramic residues. ALL wishes to thank several faculty and
students at the University of Michigan for helpful comments
on earlier versions of this paper: Joyce Marcus, Carla
Sinopoli, John O’Shea, Jeannette Bond, Andrew Gurstelle,
and Allison Davis (Oberlin College). Special thanks to
Véronique Bélisle (Trent University) for translation of the
abstract into Spanish. The quote in the title of this paper is
derived from Catherine Allen’s (1988:137–150) description
and dialogue of drinking practices in highland Peru.
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... Inca emperors practiced ceremonial agriculture and drank large amounts of maize beer (chicha) at various ceremonial events (Staller, 2006). Considering the importance of maize to life and culture during the Inca period (from the 15th century to AD 1532), researchers have taken an interest in the economic and ritual contributions of maize in embryonic Andean societies and the ways in which these contributions cohered with ceremonial architecture (Seki, 1998;Shady, 2006;Staller, 2006;Logan et al., 2012). ...
... Moreover, the lack of surplus food storage in this region and isotopic analyses of human remains in the highlands suggest that there was no large-scale maize production in the Peruvian highlands during the Initial and Early Formative Periods (Seki, 1998;Seki and Yoneda, 2005). However, this does not imply that there was no small-scale agriculture in the region at this time; some studies have reported maize utilization at highland sites, including maize starch granules and phytoliths (Perry et al., 2006;Logan et al., 2012;Clasby, 2019), and maize pollen (Chepstow-Lusty, 2011). These findings have forced us to reconsider the scale of maize agriculture in the Peruvian highlands during this period and the ways in which it changed over time. ...
... Rather, we suggest that the promotion of maize cultivation-and, directly and indirectly, maize consumption-may have started with non-elite groups. Considering the transition of ceramic types in the Cajamarca region (Seki, 1998;Seki and Yoneda, 2005) and the evidence of maize starch granules and phytoliths from artifacts, teeth, and soils collected from ceremonial contexts in the Titicaca Basin (Logan et al., 2012), we should not exclude the possibility that chicha had significant ceremonial and ritual value during the Formative Period. In interpreting these results, however, we should note that all of the individuals analyzed in this study were excavated from the ceremonial terrace of the Pacopampa site. ...
Maize (Zea mays) was an important staple and ceremonial food in the pre-Columbian Andean world. Previous researchers have studied maize agriculture in early ancient Andean society by examining macro- and microbotanical remains. However, isotope analyses of human remains have shown that maize was not a primary food resource during the Formative Period (1800–1 cal BC). Although a few studies have suggested that maize was consumed in this period, we know little about how the dietary role of maize differed across the Andean society and how it changed over time. This study measures carbon and nitrogen isotope ratios from human and animal bone collagen samples and human tooth enamel samples excavated from the Pacopampa archaeological site in the highlands of northern Peru in order to better understand maize consumption in this period. The site dates to the Middle to Late Formative Periods (1200–700 cal BC, 700–400 cal BC) and the Early Cajamarca phase (cal AD 200–450). The findings indicate an increase in C4 resource consumption during the Late Formative Period—an increase that we attribute directly to maize and indirectly to domesticated animals. Although dietary variation related to social stratification was insignificant at this site, it has been reported at and between some coeval sites. Thus, we conclude that when these populations began exploiting C4 resources, their strategic use of these resources varied depending on the site. This study suggests that the use of maize during the Formative Period was probably greater and earlier than reported in previous isotope studies. In addition, maize utilization for domestic animals in this period, which has rarely been mentioned, was also important.
... To address this question of trade and camelid movement during this time of agricultural intensification and shifting senses of territoriality in the south, the Taraco Archaeological Project (TAP), which has been investigating this Formative time period for some years on the Taraco Peninsula and other scholars (Figure 1) have analyzed a range of excavated artifacts to learn if they were locally procured or traded in. The archaeobotanical team has sought exotic plant species to track such trade into the Formative peninsular settlements (Logan et al. 2012), as has been suggested for a set of plants that cannot grow on the altiplano were important in the Tiwanaku ceremonial world, especially hallucinogenic plants (Janusek 2004(Janusek , 2008Kolata 1993). Peninsular excavations have uncovered non-local sodalite beads, seashell, silver, copper and gold, mainly encountered in burials from Early and Middle Formative contexts (Bandy 2001: 140-141;Bennett 1936;Browman 1981;Kidder 1956). ...
... Nonlocal foods like maize (Zea mays L.) would have to be imported at first, until the farmers could select varieties that could adapt to these high elevation shores. Our earliest maize microfossil evidence is in the Middle Formative, identified from phytoliths located on human teeth and grinding stones (Logan et al. 2012; Reilly 2017). We have not identified maize macro-remains until the Late Formative deposits, and then only a few kernels and cupules have been encountered in the archaeological record (Bruno 2008). ...
... We recognize the strong interrelationship among maize, alcohol, and spiritual and social life (Hastorf 2016;Kennedy 1978;Mandelbaum 1965;Marshall 1979) in parts of North America and note that beer made from starchy grains was one of the most widely consumed alcoholic beverages in the ancient world (Guerra-Doce 2015; Logan et al. 2012;Munro 1963;Wang et al. 2016Wang et al. , 2017. Hayden and colleagues (2013:103) note that brewing is also extremely common among horticulturalists and is almost universal among those who grew grains. ...
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Artifacts, including ceramics, ground stone, and soil samples, as well as dental calculus, recovered from sites in the eastern North American central Plains were submitted to multiple laboratories for analysis of microbotanical remains. Direct accelerator mass spectrometer (AMS) dates of 361–197 cal BC provide evidence for the earliest use of maize ( Zea mays ssp. mays ) in this region. Squash ( Cucurbita sp.), wild rice (cf. Zizania spp.), and palm (Arecaceae sp.) microremains were also found. This research adds to the growing evidence of the importance of microbotanical analysis in documenting plant use and in the identification of early maize. The combined data on early maize from the eastern Plains adds to our understanding of the timing and dispersal of this crop out of the American Southwest. Alternative explanations for the adoption and early use of maize by eastern central Plains communities include its value as a secondary resource, as an addition to an existing farming strategy, or as a component of Middle Woodland rituals.
... Es tanta la importancia de estas piezas que, junto con los fogones y las ollas, son considerados elementos esenciales de la vida pública y/o privada prehispánica. A continuación, se nombran algunos ejemplos de batanes y manos de moler hallados en contextos arqueológicos, estos utensilios son importantes para entender las sociedades prehispánicas antes de la conquista española.En el sitio de Chiripa, localizado en Taraco, La Paz, seis piedras de moler registradas en la estructura Quispe datada en 800-250 a.C., fueron analizadas para entender el procesamiento del maíz en épocas formativas(Logan, Hastorf y Pearsall, 2012). Estas piedras de moler fueron depositadas al final de la vida útil de este recinto, que es parte del sector ritual del asentamiento y que posiblemente estuvo destinado a la preparación de comida para festividades y producción de bienes ceremoniales. ...
... The scarcity of maize botanical remains on the peninsula suggests it was likely imported through the Late Formative times, as it remained rarely consumed. Morphology of maize specimens coupled with major settlements in the lowland maize-growing regions during the Tiwanaku period suggests it was imported throughout that time, but it is possible that local farmers were beginning to select for the variety that grows in the region today (21,69). Combining the limited archaeobotanical findings of maize with the minor isotopic shift found in the dental samples, we believe that it was unlikely that maize was used as a staple food for Taraco Peninsula inhabitants at any time and that maize consumption was likely limited to specific sociopolitical events. ...
The Lake Titicaca basin was one of the major centers for cultural development in the ancient world. This lacustrine environment is unique in the high, dry Andean altiplano , and its aquatic and terrestrial resources are thought to have contributed to the florescence of complex societies in this region. Nevertheless, it remains unclear to what extent local aquatic resources, particularly fish, and the introduced crop, maize, which can be grown in regions along the lakeshores, contributed to facilitating sustained food production and population growth, which underpinned increasing social political complexity starting in the Formative Period (1400 BCE to 500 CE) and culminating with the Tiwanaku state (500 to 1100 CE). Here, we present direct dietary evidence from stable isotope analysis of human skeletal remains spanning over two millennia, together with faunal and floral reference materials, to reconstruct foodways and ecological interactions in southern Lake Titicaca over time. Bulk stable isotope analysis, coupled with compound-specific amino acid stable isotope analysis, allows better discrimination between resources consumed across aquatic and terrestrial environments. Together, this evidence demonstrates that human diets predominantly relied on C 3 plants, particularly quinoa and tubers, along with terrestrial animals, notably domestic camelids. Surprisingly, fish were not a significant source of animal protein, but a slight increase in C 4 plant consumption verifies the increasing importance of maize in the Middle Horizon. These results underscore the primary role of local terrestrial food resources in securing a nutritious diet that allowed for sustained population growth, even in the face of documented climate and political change across these periods.
... Different workers have identified many genus/species level diagnostic phytolith morphotypes at local or global level from various plants especially for various archaeological investigations (Mulholland, 1987;Bozarth, 1993;Piperno and Pearsall, 1993;Thompson et al., 1994;Pearsall et al., 1995;Piperno et al., 2000;Zhao and Piperno, 2000;Pearsall, 2003;Piperno, 2006;Yost and Blinnikov, 2011;Logan et al., 2012). ...
Porteresia coarctata (Roxb.) Tateoka is a true halophytic perennial wild grass that grows profusely along newly formed, highly saline landmasses and mudflats in the coastal mangroves of the Indian subcontinent and acts as a pioneer species in mangrove succession. Comprehensive phytolith analyses on sixteen P. coarctata samples collected from different swampy mangrove locations of four mangrove forests (Sundarbans, Bhitarkanika, Godavari and Krishna) along the Indian east coast show the significant and exclusive presence of a new specialized RONDEL having four distinct horns with flat base (named henceforth as RONDEL FOUR HORNED). Significant numbers of this morphotype have also been recorded in the surface sediment samples collected from these swampy mangrove sites. The RONDEL FOUR HORNED is a diagnostic phytolith morphotype of P. coarctata and a useful indicator of coastal swampy or intertidal mangroves of the Indian east coast. This morphotype was then used to identify past coastal intertidal mangrove environments in a late Quaternary sedimentary profile.
Archaeologists working in the Late Formative Lake Titicaca Basin have identified several “transit communities”—villages that benefited from long-distance exchange. Some scholars suggest that such places played a key role in the development of the Middle Horizon city of Tiwanaku. In this article, we explore the movement of plant goods into transit communities during both the Late Formative (300 BC–AD 500) and Middle Horizon (AD 600–1100) periods. After presenting the current understanding of transit communities, we summarize previous work on both local plants, including tubers and quinoa, and the presence of maize. We then report on a recent microbotanical study of ceramics recovered from excavations at Late Formative Challapata (in the eastern basin) and a burial from the Middle Horizon occupation at Chiripa (in the southern basin). For the first time we identify lowland tubers in the Lake Titicaca Basin, including yuca, sweet potato, and arrowroot. These findings reveal the critical importance of microbotanical analyses for tracing regional connections and foodways in emergent Middle Horizon worlds, as well as the need for more complex interpretive models for things/plants-in-motion.
In the archaeological tradition of what is today Peru, studies of sedentary agricultural groups have accorded a minor role to the analysis of stone tools relative to other suites of material culture. Here, we illustrate the value of such lithic collections via a case study of settlement sites from the Chachapoyas region of northern Peru (AD 300–1500). This study demonstrates the potential of methods such as use-wear microscopy and raw material analysis to address questions of theoretical interest to archaeologists studying sedentary society, such as subsistence, household behavior, and ceremonial practices. A set of generalized linear models of the spatial distribution of volcanic stone indicates that lithic raw material acquisition at these ceramic period sites was likely embedded in other activities. In addition, we examine an unusual set of limestone and carbonate-patinated artifacts that suggest that lithic procurement and selection were informed and strategic, if not conforming to expected technological priorities. We suggest that, by taking the potential value of lithic artifacts into consideration from project design through field collection and assemblage sampling, researchers can minimize biases that may otherwise limit the value of lithic assemblages.
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Stable isotope studies have revolutionised our understanding of food webs, subsistence, mobility and their change through time. In the Andes, dietary stable isotopic studies have often focused on timing the adoption of maize as a staple food and identifying camelid pastoralism in selected valleys of the Pacific coast. Few studies have focused on highland societies and understanding pastoralist communities in particular, but the underlying assumption has been that camelid herders had essentially narrow and specialised diets. To evaluate this assertion, we analyzed dietary carbon and nitrogen stable isotopes of 27 human and 23 faunal specimens from nine archaeological sites located in the Central Altiplano of Bolivia supported by 27 radiocarbon dates. Our results suggest important diversity characterised both human and animal isotopic ecology between 1300 BCE and 1200 CE. The collected data also demonstrates that maize was not regularly consumed, suggesting interregional food exchange between this region of the Altiplano and its neighboring lowland inter-Andean valleys likely postdated 1100 CE. Consistent with reliance on cultivated crops such as chenopods and tubers and wild fauna including rodents, birds and fish, early camelid herders in the Andean Central Altiplano relied on a generalised form of pastoralism.
Alcoholic beverages were used in ancient rituals and feasting, often to embody elite status and power, to mark communal activities, or simply for everyday consumption. Scholars have traditionally interpreted pitchers, a common pottery vessel type in late Neolithic China, as specialized alcohol serving vessels. However, little research has been done to characterize the true use of these vessels through scientific analysis of excavated materials from the middle Yellow River region. In this study, by analyzing microbotanical residues on ten pitchers, two cups, three lids, and one storage jar from the Shimao site (ca. 4300–3800 cal. BP), one of the earliest urban centers in late Neolithic north China, we discover remains of a beer brewed using a malting method. The main ingredients include millet, Triticeae, rice, lily, snake gourd root, Zingiberaceae root (ginger or turmeric), and beans. The pitchers may have been used for serving and heating the fermented beverages. This result not only reveals for the first time the production and consumption of alcoholic beverages in the late Neolithic Loess Plateau, but also highlights the interplay among feasting activities, social hierarchies, and interregional interactions in the process of early urbanization in this region.
The materials upon which this study is based primarily consist of some 10,000 pottery specimens derived from the archaeological excavations conducted by Alfred Kidder II in 1939 at the site of Pucara (K. Chávez 1989a: 5-6). The excavations included ceremonial dumps or midden deposits along the river bank (Excavations I, II, and III), complex public architecture on the plain (Excavation IV), and two temples on terraces above (Excavations V and VI). In addition to these contexts, pottery was also found in offerings (Excavation I) and a burial (Excavation VI); what appeared to be a domestic structure in Excavation I was partially excavated, but clear pottery associations could not be determined (S. Chávez 1992: 51-83).
This chapter moves from today's Ecuadorian Amazon to the Moche culture of Peru's north coast (ad 100–700) to consider how alcohol's enduring importance in the Andes may relate to its importance as a gift shared by both friends and rivals. It is also suggested that chicha has been used through the centuries to express the tension between inequality and shared identity that is found in all societies. Chicha today carries meanings of gender, race, nation, and community — some of the most powerful identities known. Throughout its long history, chicha has demonstrated its symbolic potency. It has also consistently been used to express tensions between inequality and shared identity, as well as to embody qualities of the natural and supernatural world.
This chapter explores the deep, pervasive (and often problematic) role of ritual drinking in a small Quechua-speaking community from 1975 up to the present. It concentrates upon a high-altitude context (3,200–4,000 meters) where corn will not grow. It specifically considers how chicha forms an important structuring metaphor in the community and how cane alcohol, carbonated drinks, and agricultural reform have played off and transformed this metaphor as lifeways have changed. It then compares and contrasts chicha with trago, as the two beverages perform similar ritual and social functions but involve residents of Sonqo in different kinds of economic and social relationships outside the ayllu. Moreover, two developments from 1990s to the present — alcoholism and Protestant conversion — are outlined. It is noted that the move from chicha to trago/alkul to gaseosas has entailed a significant reorientation.