Hilltop Visibility Networks and Empire in the Moche Valley

Author(s): Patrick Mullins

Year: 2016


Prehistorically used in contexts ranging from mountain deity veneration to imperial conquest and warfare, hilltops serve as excellent platforms for staying connected to and informed of the surrounding social, political, and ritual landscape. This being said, how can the characteristics of visibility networks between hilltop sites help inform archaeologists of the ancient socio-political and ritual settings on which they were situated? Featuring dozens of hilltop sites that temporally correlate with the expansion of the nearby Chimú Empire, the Late Intermediate Period (AD 900-1470) settlement patterns of the Moche Valley in Peru provide a relevant case-study for this analysis. This paper applies social network theory to inter-visibility networks in the Moche Valley in order to understand how different stages of the Chimú Empire’s involvement in that region may have influenced the organization and placement of such sites. In particular, the visual centrality of certain sites can be seen as being the related to their economic, defensive, and ritual importance. Only through interweaving local traditions of apu veneration, imperial interest in canal construction, and the defensive necessities of living on a volatile imperial frontier can the visual interconnectedness of these hilltop sites be understood.

Cite this Record

Hilltop Visibility Networks and Empire in the Moche Valley. Patrick Mullins. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 403952)


Spatial Coverage

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