Why Heterarchy? A View from the Tiwanaku State’s (AD 500-1100) Labor Force.

Author(s): Sara Becker

Year: 2019


This is an abstract from the "Cooperative Bodies: Bioarchaeology and Non-ranked Societies" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

When past peoples congregated to form complex societies, a question arises as to under what circumstances would heterarchical, reciprocal labor be emphasized over top-down hierarchical configurations? In the Central Andes of South America, modern indigenous people practice reciprocal labor with groupings organized around family hamlets and kin networks in an ayllu (i.e., kinship, administrative, and political) system. Heterarchical teamwork to till fields, plant, and harvest makes logical sense with smaller groupings of people spread across a wide area. The Tiwanaku state within this same region had an estimated 40,000 people living within a few hundred square kilometers of each other. Archaeological and bioarchaeological evidence point toward a shared, reciprocal, and heterarchical labor force that emerged as one basic tenet of this civilization. Exploring questions about heterarchical labor, this research evaluates activity evidence from Tiwanaku skeletal remains from before, during, and after the emergence and expansion of the Tiwanaku state. Results show that people may have labored less extensively and repetitively on heavy effort tasks like farming after the advent of the state. Obligations within something like an ayllu network during state times may have strengthened social obligations and kept this expansive state functioning for over 500 years.

Cite this Record

Why Heterarchy? A View from the Tiwanaku State’s (AD 500-1100) Labor Force.. Sara Becker. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 450627)

Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 24356