Technical Knowledge, Metal Artisans, and Moche Visual Culture: A View from Piura, Peru

Author(s): Alicia Boswell; Joanne Pillsbury

Year: 2019


This is an abstract from the "The Movement of Technical Knowledge: Cross-Craft Perspectives on Mobility and Knowledge in Production Technologies" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

Technical knowledge is passed along through individuals and the exchange of objects. While technical studies of artifacts illuminate the physical evidence of evolutions in manufacturing processes, what are the mechanisms via which ideas are exchanged? What is the role of human agency, and what are the sociopolitical contexts in which technical innovations occur? From sixteenth-century sources, we know that when the Incas conquered the Chimú they kidnapped the metalsmiths and forcibly relocated them elsewhere. How far back does this practice of "craftsperson capture" extend? This paper focuses on the Moche, predecessors of the Chimú. Moche artisans developed a suite of sophisticated technologies, including different ways to gild and plate metals. While it may be possible that in the southern Moche region rival polities "borrowed" artisans as attached specialists, our recent research suggests that at least in the case of Piura, on Peru’s far north coast, the introduction of Moche metalwork may have been less direct. Elite metal regalia in the two regions exhibit similar forms and Moche iconography, but the technical features of the Piura tradition are sufficiently different to suggest that in this case, objects and non-specialists likely played the role of transmitters rather than technical specialists themselves.

Cite this Record

Technical Knowledge, Metal Artisans, and Moche Visual Culture: A View from Piura, Peru. Alicia Boswell, Joanne Pillsbury. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 451651)

Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 23274