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A Ceramic Investigation into the Relationship between Emergent Complexity and Religion on the South Coast of Peru

Author(s): Alicia Gorman ; Kevin Vaughn ; Michiel Zegarra Zegarra

Year: 2017

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This paper investigates negotiations of power on the south coast of Peru through ceramic attribute analysis. The ceramic sample comes from the site of Cerro Tortolita, which contains both ceremonial and habitation zones. This site’s emergence in the upper Ica Valley during the 3rd century AD coincided with a broader increase in local settlement hierarchy. The timing of Cerro Tortolita’s rise and its religious nature provide a unique opportunity to isolate and investigate the relationship between religion and emergent inequality. Although inequality was once thought to be an inevitable transition on the road to progress to Western civilization-like complexity, it is now recognized that societies have social norms and leveling mechanisms that actively maintain distributions of power. For inequality to arise, social norms and limitations maintaining equality must first be overcome, and religion is one means of doing so. The hypotheses tested through this work concern use of space within the ceremonial zone of the site, and what this can tell us about elite strategies for power and how regular people shaped those strategies. By studying the power dynamics at Cerro Tortolita, we can better understand the potential of religion in emergent inequality.

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A Ceramic Investigation into the Relationship between Emergent Complexity and Religion on the South Coast of Peru. Alicia Gorman, Kevin Vaughn, Michiel Zegarra Zegarra. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 429524)


Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 16559

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America