Hualcayán and PIARA at the Society for American Archaeology in Austin

PIARA‘s research at Hualcayán will be well-represented at the Society for American Archaeology meetings next week in Austin, Texas.  Below are a list of the posters and papers that will be presented by student, graduate student, and professional PIARA collaborators. Also listed are two PIARA posters presented last week at the American Association of Physical Anthropology meetings in Calgary.

If you will be at the SAA meetings, please stop by to hear about the latest research from Hualcayán!

Poster Session – Andean Mortuary Practices

  • Thursday, April 24, 6:00 – 8:00 PM
  • Ballroom F (ACC)

Middle Horizon Mortuary Architecture and Social Organization at Hualcayán, Ancash, Peru – Jonathan Mavko (PIARA), Rebecca Bria (Vanderbilt University) and Rachel Shea (Purdue University)

This poster presents the architectural and spatial analyses of Middle Horizon (ca. 600–1000 CE) Chullpa- type mortuary structures at the site of Hualcayán in highland Ancash, Peru. This research reveals how the construction and modification of clustered chullpas and their exterior patios indicate changes in inter- and intra-group membership at Hualcayán during the Middle Horizon. A total of eight Chullpas—above-ground, free-standing stone ossuaries—clustered in two distinct groups were analyzed, noting several characteristics including entryway size and orientation, interior chamber layout, interior and exterior surface area, construction sequences, and construction quality, as well as their spatial relationships to one another and to other architectural features (walls, plazas, etc). Both chullpa groups indicate different phases of use and modification, and this evidence points to how people in the Middle Horizon restructured space in and around these chullpas to both accommodate new social relationships and mark difference between themselves and other lineage or sub-lineage groups. Furthermore, measures of architectural sophistication and investment within each chullpa group point to existing and changing social hierarchies in the ancient Hualcayán community. In this way, this research on mortuary architecture reveals new insights on changing social relationships during the Middle Horizon in the Ancash highlands.

Exploring Variation in Cranial Modification at Hualcayán, Ancash highlands, Peru – Shaina Molano (University College of London) and Rebecca Bria (Vanderbuilt University)

Sustained excavations between 2011 and 2013 at the archaeological complex of Hualcayán in highland Ancash, Peru have provided a great number of skeletal materials with cranial modification from several tomb types, dating between the Early Intermediate Period and Middle Horizon (1-600 CE). As a cultural practice that preserves in the skeletal record, cranial modification is a form of permanent body alteration that provides a powerful tool for understanding group identity, social structure, and status in a given society. We recovered 53 complete crania and 43 partial crania with modifications from three tomb types at Hualcayán: free standing square chullpa structures, machay structures below boulders, and semi-subterranean tombs. Preliminary analysis of these modified crania show different types of cranial modification including annular, fronto-occipital, frontal, and bi-lobate modification in varying degrees. The distribution of these modified crania across tomb types allows us to question why certain modifications are associated with particular burial types, locations, and periods. Further analysis of these crania will allow us to learn more about the local customs, lineage groups, and social identity of the ancient population of Hualcayán.

Identifying Mortuary Ritual and Ancestor Veneration: A Spatial Analysis of the Tombs at Hualcayán, Peru – Kate Norgon (University of Wisconsin-La Crosse) and Rebecca Bria (Vanderbilt University)

Ancestor veneration is a concept shared by indigenous peoples throughout the Andes. Identifying patterns in the spatial distribution of tombs on the landscape provides insight into how deceased ancestors were viewed in Andean cultures. This study is an investigation of the ritual activity associated with ancestor veneration in the Peruvian Andes through a survey of eighty tombs at the site of Hualcayán, in the north-central highlands of Peru. This survey included information about the location as well as form, size, and artifacts associated with each tomb. The results show significant variation in both size and complexity among the tombs at this site as well as a pattern of clustering. The clustering of these tombs was influenced by a combination of geographical factors as well as cultural choices, perhaps reflecting and reaffirming kinship ties through physical associations of tombs on the landscape.

Celebrating Death: New Data on Recuay Mortuary Feasting Practices from Hualcayán (Ancash, Peru) – Bryan Núñez Aparcana (Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos), Rebecca Bria (Vanderbilt University) and Elizabeth Cruzado (Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos)

This study presents the analysis of excavated ceramic materials from a patio space outside a small familial (MNI=9) non-elite two-chamber subterranean Recuay tomb at the archaeological site of Hualcayán in highland Ancash, Perú (AD 1-700). Formal characteristics of the ceramic assemblage and their distribution and superposition within the patio space indicate that these materials are the remains of recurring ritual feasts to honor the dead. The assemblage included musical instruments and a high percentage of decorated jars and bowls suggesting that music and ceremonial drinking, likely with chicha beer, were the most important ritual practices performed during these Recuay feasts. Detailed attribute analysis of the assemblage also indicates a high variability of painted techniques, ranging from the careful preparation of sophisticated negative designs with complex iconography to vessels with more free- flowing, uneven paint strokes. The latter technique is the most prevalent. While these designs may suggest a lack of sophistication or care, we argue that the prevalence of these course techniques reflects on the one hand an aesthetic intended by their makers, and second, that these vessels were expediently prepared by living family members in preparation for the burial of their recently deceased family members.

Cycles of Violence and Cultures of War: An Analysis of Cranial Trauma in Recuay and Wari-Era Tombs at Hualcayán – Emily Sharp (Arizona State University) and Rebecca Bria (Vanderbilt University)

Bioarchaeological investigations provide a deep time perspective on the causes and consequences of violent activities, and more specifically, they attest to the physical impact of violence on the body. This study investigates the association between cultural emphases on warfare and violence and the influence these developments have on cranial trauma rates. In the north-central Andes, the Recuay culture (A.D. 1- 700) flourished during the Early Intermediate Period (EIP). While warfare is considered common for the Recuay era, this is one of the first in-depth studies of Recuay interpersonal conflict in the Ancash highlands. Excavations at the site of Hualcayán have uncovered human remains that date to the EIP and the subsequent time period—the Middle Horizon or Wari era. Approximately 80 crania from eight burial contexts, including above-ground and subterranean tombs, were analyzed to assess the frequency and patterning of antemortem and perimortem trauma. Osteological analyses reveal substantive evidence for violent conflicts, likely in the form of warfare and raiding. Individuals, specifically adult males, interred in Recuay tombs exhibit high rates of healed trauma. Other contexts show trauma on juvenile and adult female crania. Results indicate significant differences in trauma type and frequency across sex, age-at- death, time period, and burial location.

Access, Visibility, and Defense: GIS Approach to the Rise of Warfare in the Early Intermediate Andean Highlands – Corey Bowen (Vanderbilt University) and Rebecca Bria (Vanderbilt University)

Recent research of Recuay materials, iconography, and architecture indicates a marked increase in warfare during the Early Intermediate Period of the highland Andes of Ancash, Peru (1-700 C.E.). Archaeologists have identified defensive trenches, fortified walls, and strategic site positioning at many individual Recuay community sites, a pattern which stands in sharp contrast to the character and location of village centers in the preceding Formative Period (1800-200 B.C.E.). This poster presents GIS viewshed and cost-path analyses to investigate trends in less physical elements of defensive constructions: visibility and accessibility. We will compare cumulative and individual viewsheds and the general accessibility of Early Horizon and Early Intermediate Period sites in highland Ancash to contribute a broader, regional perspective to our understanding of increasing warfare during this cultural transition.

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In the Symposium – Beyond the Horizons: Exploring Social Integration During Periods of Political Diversity in the Ancient Andes

  • Friday Morning, April 25th, 8:45 AM
  • Ballroom E (ACC)

Emplacing Recuay Authority: The Local Roots of Regional Elites in the Highland Andean Early Intermediate Period (Ancash, Peru) – Rebecca Bria (Vanderbilt University)

Neo-evolutionary frameworks have long structured archaeological accounts of social transformation and political change. In the Andes, scholars uncritically apply such frameworks in describing “horizons” as epochs of civilizational achievement and “intermediate periods” as eras during which people passively responded to broader political economic changes or periods lacking in sociopolitical innovation. This paper challenges these frameworks by presenting recent excavation data from Hualcayán, a ceremonial center and town in highland Ancash that was rebuilt during the Huarás Phase (200 B.C.E.–200 C.E.) as aspiring elites drastically transformed the Chavín-affiliated temple mounds of Hualcayán. These local actors declared their local authority in theatrical practices such as expedient feasts and termination rituals that decommissioned Chavín religious spaces and symbols. The feasting practices of the Huarás Phase became the basis of a regional elite authority during the Recuay Period (200–700 C.E.), when lineage leaders forged formal and recognizable elite identities, casting themselves as providers for the local community by hosting ceremonies in exclusive ritual spaces. Far from an unenlightened moment of political disintegration, Recuay communities flourished through the creative redefinition of established spaces and boundaries, and in doing so, forged new forms of political authority and lineage-based social organization.

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In the Symposium Co-Creation, the Public and the Archaeological Record

  • Friday Morning, April 25, 9:00 AM
  • Room 19B (ACC)

Making the Past Relevant: Finding Solutions to the Challenges of Heritage Preservation in Rural Communities in Peru – Elizabeth Katherine Cruzado Carranza  (The University of Memphis) and Rebecca Bria (Vanderbilt University)

In the impoverished traditional Quechua communities of rural Ancash, Peru, the planning and implementing of heritage preservation projects faces a variety of obstacles that require creative solutions. With little government oversight to enforce protection laws, the monumental archaeological sites of Hualcayan and Pariamarca in the Cordillera Blanca mountain range are poorly preserved. The challenge of conflicting interests among villagers-such as the need to increase agricultural yields-combined with a loss of connection to the ancient past, has led the US and Peruvian collaborators of the Proyecto de Investigación Arqueológico Regional Ancash (PIARA) to engage local communities and municipalities in developing a multi-faceted approach to promote and protect their cultural heritage. The engagement includes: 1) education-focused heritage enrichment projects with local school children and their teachers, 2) the design of local museums that will double as community centers, and 3) the integration of these heritage centers into an already present adventure tourism circuit, where visitors can explore the area’s natural, cultural, and archaeological resources in addition to trekking into the famous Parque Nacional Huascaran. The latter project will connect the two sites as tourism destinations with homestays in local villages rather than a simple pass through on a Cordillera trek.

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In the Symposium Learning From Destruction: Patterns of Decay, Production Techniques, and Evidence for Use of Fiber Artifacts

  • Sunday Morning, April 27th, 10:00 AM
  • Room 18D (ACC)

Conceptualizing Communities of Weavers and Group Identity through the Analysis of Fragmented Andean Textiles – Marie Gravalos (Purdue University) and Rebecca Bria (Vanderbilt University)

Excavations from 2011-2013 at the highland site of Hualcayán in the Callejón de Huaylas valley, Perú have revealed an abundance of surprisingly well-preserved textiles and cordage. Despite preservation, these materials come from looted tomb contexts, dating to the Early Intermediate Period and the Middle Horizon (circa AD1-1000). The long-term mortuary use and architectural transformation of these ossuaries in the ancient past have contributed to the fragmentation and decay of fiber-perishable materials. Through technical attribute analysis using high-powered microscopy, we examine the hypothesis that single communities of weavers tend to produce relatively homogenous textiles because of a uniformity of practice (standardization in technical or stylistic attributes) in production. We argue that the sharing of technical knowledge and practices forges a collective identity and set of values. Despite the sample’s looted context, this study demonstrates that (1) fragmented textiles have the potential to infer the presence of discrete communities of practice in the ancient past, and (2) careful technical analysis of looted artifacts can reconstruct some of the contextual information that contemporary grave robbers destroyed.

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Below are two papers from PIARA-based research that were presented at the American Association of Physical Anthropologists Annual Meeting on April 8 – 12 in Calgary.

Mapping activity patterns through Musculoskeletal Stress Markers: Vertebral anomalies of a Middle Horizon population in the north-central highlands of Peru – LISA M. CALABRIA (Texas Tech University), SARA K. BECKER (York College of Pennsylvania), JULIE J. LESNIK (University of Illinios – Chicago) and REBECCA E. BRIA (Vanderbilt University).

While the bioarchaeological analysis of Andean lifeways during the Middle Horizon (600-1000 AD) has flourished in recent years, these studies have focused largely on the Wari Empire in south-central Peru. Instead, this study focuses on activity patterns at Hualcayán, an ancient community center in the north-central highlands of Peru, through osteological analysis of vertebrae collected from a Middle Horizon ossuary. 143 complete adult vertebrae (MNI ≈ 6) were analyzed macroscopically for trauma, entheses, and anomalous morphology. The cases of trauma that were observed included a Jefferson Fracture of C1 and compression fractures in various vertebrae with resultant ossification. The presence of overdeveloped entheseophytes was noted on 57% of thoracic neural arches and 50% of upper lumbar neural arches. Lumbar anomalies included vertebral osteophytosis, cleft neural arches, and diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis. Anomalous morphologies, including lipping of the spinous process, non-symmetric growth patterns, and fusion of C3-C4 were observed on 23% of examined cervical vertebrae. The majority of these observed vertebral anomalies illustrate spinal damages suffered by individuals repeatedly exerting both compressional and rotational forces through their backs. Furthermore, the trauma noted on various vertebrae may be consistent with use of a tumpline—or cranial strap—to carry goods, a form of transportation that is widely depicted in ancient Andean iconography. The findings of this study are consistent with well-documented archaeological and historical evidence of intensive agricultural labor practices, and exemplify the specific osteological pathologies present in Middle Horizon populations in the north-central highlands of Peru.

Musculoskeletal interpretation of labor induced stress on ancient Andean populations from Hualcayán (Ancash, Perú) – JOSEPH O. STOKES (Fort Lewis College) SARA K. BECKER (York College of Pennsylvania), JULIE J. LESNIK (Anthropology, University of Illinois-Chicago), and REBECCA E. BRIA (Vanderbilt University)

During life, an individual’s skeleton responds to habitual, labor related stress at its muscle attachment sites, called entheses, through the formation of new bone tissue and resorption of damaged bone tissue. Stress-related remodeling, or entheseal change, manifests itself in characteristic patterns depending on the severity to which musculature is pushed beyond its functional capacity. We conducted bioarchaeological investigation of entheseal change in the lower limbs of skeletal remains recovered from three commingled machay tombs at the ancient archaeological complex of Hualcayán in highland Ancash, Perú. This analysis illustrates the physical burden and resulting adaptive responses for individuals subsisting in the highlands between the Early Intermediate Period and Middle Horizon (ca. A.D. 1-1000). From an assortment of 193 bones (femur, tibia and calcaneus) 9 entheseal sites were ranked according to the degree of their stress related response. Specifically, the populations exhibit trends in entheseal remodeling and occupationally-derived skeletal conditions which are consistent with rigorous habitual activity over steep terrains; robusticity along the linea aspera and gluteal line was scored moderate or greater in 58% and 87% of cases respectively while bone spur development consistent with Osgood-Schlatter’s syndrome was observed in 28% of cases. While past research on musculoskeletal markers often focuses on intact individuals with known life histories, this study applies known patterns of stress-related remodeling to commingled contexts in the ancient Andes. This study demonstrates the utilities and limitations of the investigation of musculoskeletal stress in commingled contexts and the importance of pursuing bioarchaeological research with less than ideal assemblages.


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