Rock Art and Prehistoric Roads: The Connection in Southern Peru

Author(s): David Reid

Year: 2015


The site Toro Muerto, located in the Majes Valley of southern Peru, constitutes one of the largest and better studied rock art sites in South America. Approaching Toro Muerto through a ‘landscapes perspective,’ we can situate the site within a changing ideological, socio-economic, and political landscape beginning in the Middle Horizon (A.D. 600-1000) to the 18th century Colonial-period. This paper goes beyond the typical site-level analysis to place Toro Muerto at the center of a southern Andean rock art tradition that extended beyond the Majes Valley. Utilizing geographic information systems (GIS), a least-cost path analysis was conducted between Toro Muerto and other known Middle Horizon sites of southern Peru. Remote sensing and archaeological survey of the modeled path show that Toro Muerto was a major node on a road and caravan system that linked other prehistoric settlements and rock art sites. Petroglyphs depicting camelid caravans, the presence of stone cairns or apachetas, fresh water wells, and geoglyphs at Toro Muerto also require us to reexamine previous interpretations of rock art sites in the southern Andes.

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Rock Art and Prehistoric Roads: The Connection in Southern Peru. David Reid. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 398133)

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Spatial Coverage

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