Food and Culture in the Andes

Part of: Society for American Archaeology 81st Annual Meeting, Orlando, FL (2016)

Food is one of the most integral aspects of human existence. It is, on the one hand, a biological imperative fueled by nutritional need—we must, after all, eat to live. The food that we eat, however, is made up of much more than calories. It can have a "two-fold value": nutrition and signification (Barthes 1979: 25). While there has been a heavy emphasis on subsistence in archaeology, the social aspects of food have been largely ignored. The Andes, in particular, is an ideal area to investigate the social dimensions of food with a strong tradition of foundational research in agricultural production, environment, and objects associated wih the consumption of food. The growing use of various methodological approaches (e.g., archaeobotanical, zooarchaeological, and bioarchaeological) has resulted in a more holistic and intimate picture of the constant articulation and negotiation of social relations through food.

Geographic Keywords
South America

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  • Documents (9)

  • Changing Food Practices at Tequendama, Aguazuque, and Zipacon (Sabana de Bogotá, Colombia) (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Jennifer Salinas Acero. Jennifer Salinas.

    The process of domestication has interested archaeologists working in the Andes for decades but for many years problems of preservation and access to certain analyses have caused a lag in the recovery of concrete evidence. Although, previous research carried out in the 1970’s and 1980’s at the preceramic sites of Tequendama, Aguazuque, and Zipacon on the altiplano of the Eastern Cordillera of Colombia yielded a wealth of paleoenvironmental, tool use, and faunal data, few botanical remains were...

  • Common Meals, Noble Feasts: An Archaeological Investigation of Moche Food and Cuisine in the Jequetepeque Valley, Peru (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Katherine Chiou.

    In the North Coast of Peru, relatively little is known about the majority of the population that supported the lifestyles of the elite. In this paper, I discuss the concept of a Moche cuisine through a study of the foodways of both elite and commoner classes, drawing on archaeobotanical data from a feasting preparation area located in the elite cemetery of San José de Moro and from a humble household situated near the base of the fortified hilltop settlement of Cerro Chepén. Cuisine can be...

  • Diet, Status, and Identity in Colonial Peru: Investigations at Carrizales (Zaña Valley, Peru) (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Sarah Kennedy. Parker VanValkenburgh. Katherine L. Chiou.

    Late 16th century Peru was a dynamic period associated with emerging Spanish colonial polices - forced resettlement and tribute extraction – coupled with general demographic decline. Spanish officials and indigenous communities alike had to make difficult choices on how they provided for their households and put food on the table. We examine the effects of this tumultuous period on Spanish and indigenous foodways at the reducción site of Carrizales, located in the lower Zaña Valley on the North...

  • Food for the Ayllus: Plants Access and Social Meaning in the lowland Tiwanaku sites of Omo and Rio Muerto (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Giacomo Gaggio. Paul Goldstein.

    Tiwanaku, one of the first Andean states, spread during the Middle Horizon (AD 500-1000) from the Bolivian Altiplano into the lowland territories of Cochabamba and Moquegua in order to acquire the resources that were lacking in the highlands, a strategy termed by Murra as the "vertical archipelago". Plants such as maize and coca were among the primary resources that the Tiwanaku sought in these valleys, and different social groups, ayllus or elites, were probably in charge of accessing and...

  • Food in the Contact Zone: Reimagining Highland-Coastal Contact in the Prehispanic Moche Valley of North Coastal Peru (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Dana Bardolph. Brian Billman. Jesus Briceno.

    In this paper, we explore migration and culture contact in the prehispanic Moche Valley of north coastal Peru, specifically through the lens of domestic foodways. During the Early Intermediate Period (EIP, 400 B.C. to A.D. 800), serrano groups from the neighboring highlands colonized many principal river valleys along the Peruvian north coast; however, the nature of highland colonization remains poorly understood. Scholars have envisioned diverse interactions between locals and nonlocals, from...

  • Food preparation and status: ch’arki versus roasting at Chavin de Huantar (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Silvana Rosenfeld.

    Based on the chronicles and ethnohistorical documents, the consumption of (more) camelid meat has been linked to groups of high status or rank in the Andes. However, were all camelid dishes created equal? At the site of Chavin de Huantar, previous (Miller and Burger 1995) and recent zooarchaeological investigations provide evidence for the consumption of ch’arki (traditional way to dry meat on the bone) and the consumption of roasted meat in different areas. Can the particular preparation of...

  • Manq'asiñani: Political Dimensions of Foodways on the Taraco Peninsula, Bolivia during the Formative and Tiwanaku Periods (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Maria Bruno. Katherine Moore. José Capriles. Andrew Roddick. Melanie Miller.

    Multi-year excavations at four sites on the Taraco Peninsula, Bolivia have produced rich plant, faunal, ceramic, and isotopic data that shed light on early foodways in the Lake Titicaca Basin of the Andes. In this paper, we explore the roles food played for the various political entities that emerged and subsided throughout the Formative (1500 BC-AD 400) and Tiwanaku (AD400-1100) periods. From the small, autonomous village polities of the earlier Formative periods to larger, political centers...

    DOCUMENT Citation Only Lucero Aristizabal Losada. Melanie Miller.

    En esta presentación, queremos enfocarnos en la relación entre alimentación y otras dimensiones sociales de la sociedad Muisca asentada en una aldea del sur de la Sabana de Bogotá del periodo muisca tardío, como es el caso de status y género. Tradicionalmente, se ha asumido la existencia de un grupo de élite que tuvo ciertos privilegios y beneficios por encima del resto de individuos; sin embargo, la información de la dieta a través del análisis isotópico de una muestra de 250 individuos...

    DOCUMENT Citation Only Marcela Bernal. Lucero Aristizábal. Carl Langebaek. Freddy Rodríguez. Luz Pérez.

    This paper studies the relation between feasts and other issues that are traditionally related the power of Muisca chiefs in their communities. The research question deals with the linkage between different dimensions of the social stratification in the La the Muisca site of Tibanica, including: feasting itself, health, kinship and nutrition. It is argued that there is no lineal relation between such variables, and that Muisca social organization is best understood from a multidimensional and...