The Antiquity and Persistence of Traditional Health Beliefs and Practices in the Northern Andes

Author(s): Elizabeth Currie

Year: 2017


This paper presents findings of a new European Community funded research project: "Indigenous Concepts of Health and Healing in Andean Populations". The study population are indigenous Quechua peoples in northern Andean Ecuador. The project examines ethnic Andeans’ understanding of their world and how health, illness and healing are understood within it. Current practices of traditional medicine (TM) have evolved within complex historical contexts into new forms which can reveal the nature of pre-Columbian and historical indigenous belief systems. They might demonstrate how beliefs and associated rituals and practices adapted and survived in social climates of persecution and repression. The project employs novel theoretical and methodological approaches, using a time-depth perspective and a framework of interdisciplinary methods integrating archaeological-historical, ethnographic and modern health sciences approaches. It will model how peoples survive and adapt their traditional belief systems in a context of alien cultural impacts and determine what survives of pre-European Amerindian systems of knowledge and medicine in indigenous Andean cultures now, and the continuing role, relevance and use of TM in present-day communities. This approach highlights a culturally sensitive approach to the conservation of Andean ‘intangible cultural heritage’.

Cite this Record

The Antiquity and Persistence of Traditional Health Beliefs and Practices in the Northern Andes. Elizabeth Currie. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 428810)

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Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 13196