Enchanted Plazas: Monumental Art and Iconography in Early Horizon Coastal Ancash

Author(s): David Chicoine

Year: 2016


This paper considers the spatial design of ritual gathering places and the iconographic content of associated sculpted friezes at Early Horizon centers in Nepeña, coastal Ancash, Peru. The Early Horizon marked a transition from representational art of the late Initial Period to abstract forms of public visual arts during the second half of the first millennium BC. This paper examines the context of the public visual arts within enclosed compounds – hypothesized as multi-functional residences – and evaluate their role in shaping social interactions during the Early Horizon. I argue that the visual and aesthetic properties of the public art “enchanted” visitors and rendered semi-public plazas “magical” to the gaze of outsiders. The shift from late Initial Period to Early Horizon iconographies marked both a democratization of religious practices and a revival of natural, animistic forces as powerful agents of social reproduction. It is argued that abstract visual arts have the capacity to associate human ritual actions with powerful natural and supernatural agents. This represents a radical shift from the therianthropic forms of Chavín, Cupisnique and Sechín arts.

Cite this Record

Enchanted Plazas: Monumental Art and Iconography in Early Horizon Coastal Ancash. David Chicoine. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 404364)


Geographic Keywords
South America

Spatial Coverage

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