Analogist Ontology at Chavín de Huantár

Author(s): Matthew Sayre; Nicco La Mattina

Year: 2016


The ontological turn in Anthropology has revealed new possibilities for considering the relationships between humans, material things, and “other-than-human persons,” as well as reassessing the Western notion of a nature/culture dichotomy. One site where these insights have begun to be applied is Chavín de Huantár in Peru. The iconography of the site is well known for its mixed human/animal hybrids, a style that prompted John Rowe to consider the art figuratively as visual kennings, with certain elements serving as comparisons to other beings by means of substitution. While Mary Weismantel, amongst others, has challenged Rowe’s figurative interpretation, her recent work also raises the possibility of gaining insight from Viveiros de Castro’s perspectivist theory. Here we consider how an archaeologically grounded approach, acknowledging that the Chavín domestic economy was focused on farming rather than hunting, thusly problematizing the basic mode of relation axiomatic to perspectivism, can relate to the ontological turn. In particular, we analyze how these theoretical trends can develop the implications of economic modes of production based on hierarchical redistribution rather than on predation. Finally, we examine how the analogist ontology, proposed by Descola, allows for insights into the composite chimerical figures of the Chavín aesthetic.

Cite this Record

Analogist Ontology at Chavín de Huantár. Matthew Sayre, Nicco La Mattina. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 402944)


Analogist andes ontology

Geographic Keywords
South America

Spatial Coverage

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