The Rise of Authority and the Decline of Warfare in the Virú Valley

Author(s): Jordan Downey

Year: 2016


The Salinar Period (400 - 200 B.C.) has long been considered a time of extensive warfare on the north coast of Peru. In the Virú Valley, fortifications and defensible settlements were common during this period, and warfare is thought to decline in the subsequent Virú Period (200 BC - AD 600). While Virú Period settlements were commonly built in open and undefensible locations, a new type of monumental fortification, the Castillo, first appeared during this time. These structures clearly served a strategic purpose and were a potent symbol of power, but they also housed large towns with public spaces. Was warfare actually less common in the Virú Period compared to Salinar, or did the nature of warfare in the valley change? Using a GIS-based approach, I show that the valley did indeed experience less warfare in the Virú Period and hypothesize that the changing nature of fortified settlements in the Virú Period can be explained by the development of a strong, centralized authority that unified the valley command and ensured that warfare was not conducted within the valley itself.

Cite this Record

The Rise of Authority and the Decline of Warfare in the Virú Valley. Jordan Downey. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 403818)


Geographic Keywords
South America

Spatial Coverage

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