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Quantifying Defensibility of Landscapes and Sites in Highland Ancash, Peru

Author(s): Emily Sharp

Year: 2015

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Warfare, as a social practice, can have profound consequences ranging from reorganization of sociopolitical boundaries to forced migration of communities and large-scale settlement pattern changes. This study quantitatively examines the increased concern for defense in the Early Intermediate Period (EIP) (200 BC–AD 600) by comparing defensibility of archaeological sites to the surrounding landscape in highland Ancash, Peru. Sites located on opposite sides of the Cordillera Blanca, specifically in the Callejón de Huaylas and the Callejón de Conchucos, are compared. In both regions, settlement locations on hilltops are common, particularly during the emergence of the Recuay culture (AD 1-700). Recuay-era sites were frequently built on top of supposedly defensible locations. In this analysis, a spatial defensibility index, developed by Bocinsky (2014), is used to assess if the sites built on ridgetops maximize defensibility by this index. This approach considers visibility and elevation indices. Additionally, the sites are ranked by defensibility in order to show the spatial distribution of the most defensible sites. Results are examined to see if they support the assertion that the Recuay purposefully constructed sites in highly defensible locations. All analyses are performed on a 30m digital elevation model in the statistical program R.

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Quantifying Defensibility of Landscapes and Sites in Highland Ancash, Peru. Emily Sharp. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 398073)


andes Warfare

Geographic Keywords
South America

Spatial Coverage

min long: -93.691; min lat: -56.945 ; max long: -31.113; max lat: 18.48 ;

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America