Modeling Late Prehistoric Mortuary Practice in the Middle Chincha Valley, Peru


This paper presents a model for mortuary practices associated with above-ground and semi-subterranean tombs known as chullpas, which date from the Late Intermediate Period (A.D. 1000-1400) to the Colonial Period (A.D. 1532 - 1825) in the middle Chincha Valley, Peru. Mortuary practices involve living-dead interactions that transform the status of the deceased. Historical sources and archaeological research suggest that chullpas in the south-central Andean highlands featured protracted living-dead interactions. Few investigations, however, have examined these tombs on the Peruvian coast. Here, we use data from five seasons of archaeological fieldwork and analysis to model sequences of chullpa mortuary activities in the middle Chincha Valley, located on the Peruvian southern coast. These data indicate multi-stage processes comprising tomb entry and reentry for depositing, manipulating, and re-depositing human remains, and making offerings of varying types to the dead. Throughout these sequences, local groups performed elaborate forms of postmortem body manipulation. Our model supports and nuances previous scholarship on chullpas by characterizing chullpa mortuary activities as part of a dynamic and extended program for curating and venerating the dead in the study area. This research contributes to Andean mortuary archaeology by expanding our understanding of variation in chullpa mortuary practice.

Cite this Record

Modeling Late Prehistoric Mortuary Practice in the Middle Chincha Valley, Peru. Jacob Bongers, Juliana Gómez Mejía, Colleen O'Shea. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 442968)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: -82.441; min lat: -56.17 ; max long: -64.863; max lat: 16.636 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 21568