What was Chachapoyas?: Towards a cultural geography of the northeastern Peruvian Andes

Part of: Society for American Archaeology 80th Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA (2015)

Like other areas of the eastern Andes, the region of Chachapoyas in northeastern Peru holds great potential for understanding the relations that took place over time between Andean and Amazonian societies. While research has lagged behind neighboring regions, Chachapoyas archaeology has now reached a point where it is possible to contribute to these and other topics. Nevertheless, many questions must still be addressed, first and foremost of which concerns basic chronology and cultural geography: to what and to whom do we actually refer with the terms “Chachapoyas” and “the Chachapoya”? Others include: what was the relationship between better documented Late Intermediate Period societies (post-AD 900) and earlier ones? Did cultural or biological connections exist between these populations? How should we interpret sub-regional variations in material culture such as residential architecture, ceramics, and mortuary treatment? Is variation so substantial as to impair the argument that greater “Chachapoyas” was a meaningful concept to pre-Inka populations, or to undermine its worth for contemporary scholars? Are persistent characterizations of Chachapoyas as “remote” and/or “isolated” supported by archaeological data? By responding to these core questions, we aim to finally bring the archaeology of this important region into dialogue with broader scholarship across prehispanic South America.

Geographic Keywords
South America

Resources Inside This Collection (Viewing 1-12 of 12)

  • Documents (12)

  • Algunas consideraciones acerca del orígen y de la organización social de los Chachapoya (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Klaus Koschmieder.

    Hasta el momento dos aspectos importantes sobre los antiguos Chachapoya no fueron discutidos de manera satisfactoria. Se trata del orígen y de la organización social de este grupo prehistórico que pobló un territorio extenso al este del río Maranhon (Perú) antes de estar dominado por los inca y los espanholes. La aparición súbita de numerosas poblaciones Chachapoya durante el Intermedio Tardío deja suponer que fueron inmigrantes, los cuales dejaron su tierra natal por razones todavía...

  • Assessing the genetic diversity in the extant Chachapoya population from northeastern Peru using uniparental DNA markers (mtDNA and Y-chromosome) (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Evelyn Guevara. Antti Sajantila. Jukka Palo. Sonia Guillén.

    The aim of the study is to elucidate the origin and population history of the human communities from northeastern Peru, with both contemporary and ancient DNA data. For the first phase of the study, contemporary Y-chromosomal (23 STRs) and mitochondrial (HVR1 and HVR2 sequences) data from four populations (Chachapoya=276; Jivaro=47; Huancas=21 and Cajamarca=34) distributed in the northeastern region of Amazonas (Peru), was assessed. At haplogroup level, the markers showed differential...

  • The bravery and beauty within: Skeletal analysis of the ancient Chachapoya people at Kuelap (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Jennifer Marla Toyne. J. Marla Toyne. L. Alfredo Narvaez.

    In early 17th century historical descriptions, Garcilaso de la Vega describes the Chachapoya people of Peru as "very brave", "the men well-formed and the women extremely beautiful". While the archaeological remains cannot address the veracity of these statements, the analysis of the skeletal remains from important Chachapoya complexes, such as Kuelap, provide the only direct means of reconstructing a biological profile of these ancient people, including aspects of their physical morphology,...

  • Chachapoya domestic architecture: identity and interaction within, across, and beyond regional boundaries (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Anna Guengerich.

    Recent research among Chachapoya societies, who lived in Northeastern Peru between AD900-1500, has drawn attention to the diversity of material culture associated with different sub-regions spanning this large area. In the face of this diversity, one basis that archaeologists have consistently used for grouping these societies together is domestic architecture. Communities across the Chachapoya region built circular houses out of stone, adorning them with functional and decorative features...

  • The Development of ‘Peripheral Communities’ in the Eastern Andes (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only James Crandall.

    The Chachapoya have come to be seen as a peripheral cultural entity in relation to the broader pre-Columbian Andes, yet little work has addressed how these ‘peripheral’ communities developed in relation to each other. While it is clear that the material culture that is manifestly associated with the Chachapoya developed prior to AD 1000, it is unclear how uniform this process was on a regional level. In the pre-Columbian Andes the development of centralized and partitioned monumental...

  • Hierarchy, Power, Identity and Time: Building a Khipu Simulacrum of Chachapoya Society at Laguna de los Cóndores (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Gary Urton.

    In 2005, the author published a study of a large khipu found in the plundered remains at the rock overhang site at Laguna de los Cóndores. That publication focused on the calendrical features of this khipu, showing that it was composed of cord groupings that constituted a two-year calendar. Subsequent study of the large sample and other, smaller khipus also found at the site show evidence of a process of the collection of information from several smaller cord records (perhaps from subordinate...

  • Landscapes under Chachapoya and Inca presence in the Chachapoya region. (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Inge Schjellerup.

    The Chachapoya and the Incas had different perceptions of the landscape concerning settlement, agriculture and communication and each of them transformed the olriginal landscape into a cultural landscape with the construction of monumental architecture and enormous investment in agricultural intensification in the form of various types of terraces. The objective is to illustrate how historical sources and archaeological investigations together contribute to the understanding of the nature and...

  • Mortuary variability and chronology of the cliff tombs of La Petaca (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Armando Anzellini. J. Marla Toyne.

    The Chachapoya of the eastern Peruvian highlands utilized various methods for disposing of their dead, but almost all involve highly visible spaces. While some regional variation is found among what are typically considered Chachapoya mortuary spaces, there is evidence for social cohesion within each site. While few mortuary complexes of the Chachapoya have been excavated, La Petaca provides the opportunity to scientifically study intrasite variation. On only half of the ...

    DOCUMENT Citation Only Sonia Guillen. Gilmer Medina. Agustín Rodríguez.

    The number of studies in the ancient Chachapoya territory increased tremendously in the last two decades. It is clear that the concept of a Chachapoya unit does not have a strong basis. This is not a new idea, ethnohistorial documents refer to the differentiated communities included in the common denomination introduced since the time of the Inka conquest. This presentation reviews the distribution of sites referred in the literature, introducing new data based on speleological studies,...

  • Tracing stylistic influences in Chachapoya art and imagery (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Adriana Von Hagen.

    The art style of the people who occupied the territory called "Chachapoyas" by sixteenth century chroniclers and modern scholars reflects the region’s location straddling the eastern slope of Peru’s northern Andes and Amazonia. At various times in Andean prehistory the Chachapoya interacted with cultures to the north, east and west of their territory, while at other times they seem to have flourished in relative isolation. Given Chachapoyas’ location and apparent sporadic contacts, especially...

    DOCUMENT Citation Only Alfredo Narvaez.

    Nuestros trabajos en Kuélap han permitido la excavación de un centenar de estructuras circulares, densos rellenos, estructuras ceremoniales y secciones de la muralla exterior y la muralla del Pueblo Alto. Estas excavaciones han afinado una secuencia estratigráfica apoyada en una veintena de fechados de radiocarbono y permitido el hallazgo de diversos contextos que sustentan una nueva hipótesis respecto del rol del monumento. Estos estudios han concluido en lo siguiente: a) el monumento comenzó...

  • Where was Chachapoyas? A view from the South (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Warren Church.

    To answer the query "what was Chachapoyas?" we must think in terms of time, space and identity. Chachapoyas scholars have encountered documentary and/or archaeological evidence of a mosaic of social identities, all undergoing transformations during successive pre-Inca, Inca, and Colonial times within a truly vast Andean region. In this paper, I consider notions of Chachapoyas internal and external boundaries as they have been conceived in the southern area where I conduct my research....