The Health of the Herd: Considering Camelid Herding from Late Moche Peru

Author(s): Aleksa Alaica

Year: 2017


The herding of camelids in the pre-Columbian past impacted daily and ritual life of peoples residing there. During the Late Moche period of Peru, camelid herding was a major factor in the trade and exchange of goods, people and ideas. The extent of herding and the degree of camelid breeding in the coastal desert has been understudied. This paper will discuss the patterns in camelid age profiles and pathologies to inform the extent to which camelids where traveling along the coast and into the highlands. The broad age profiles evident from detailed analysis displays a broad range of herds coming to the Late Moche site of Huaca Colorada (AD650-850). These data indicate that the long-held view that breeding of camelids was localized to the highlands needs to be revised. The osteological evidence from Huaca Colorada reveals the biological constraints imposed on Moche communities residing here and the demands of localized breeding to account for the numerous juvenile camelid burials uncovered in mortuary contexts and those uncovered in feasting middens. In the end, the varied exchange from possible highland and coastal locations shows that individuals may have been coming from long distances to visit and engage with activities at Huaca Colorada.

Cite this Record

The Health of the Herd: Considering Camelid Herding from Late Moche Peru. Aleksa Alaica. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431637)


Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 15094