Don Lathrap, Precocious Civilization, and the Highland-Lowland Link in Andean Archaeology

Author(s): Clark Erickson; Samantha Seyler

Year: 2019


This is an abstract from the "The Legacies of Archaeologists in the Andes: Second Symposium, the Institutionalization and Internationalization of Andean Archaeology" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

The dynamic interaction between culture areas has been and continues to be important. Traditionally, the boundaries or frontiers between culture areas were considered fixed. Many scholars now recognize that these spaces were fluid and their inhabitants played roles in the development of cultures throughout the world. Based on his own and previous archaeological research in the Andes and Amazonia, Donald Lathrap proposed that advanced societies in the Upper Amazon and Northern Andes heavily influenced early civilization in the Andean region. This included early appearance of pottery and other important technological innovations, tropical lowland resources, village life, temple architecture, crops, iconography, standardized styles, and worldview. He proposed a range of processes including migration, diffusion, trade, competition, and proselytization to account for the diverse evidence. His ideas about the origins of Andean civilization were accepted by some scholars and rejected by others. Lathrap later focused on the formation of unique precolumbian cultures that developed in the intermediate zone (montaña) as an important cultural phenomenon. We evaluate Lathrap’s diverse ideas using contemporary archaeological research in the Andes and Amazonia and argue that Lathrap’s deep tradition approach and continent-wide perspective on the past continues to have relevance.

Cite this Record

Don Lathrap, Precocious Civilization, and the Highland-Lowland Link in Andean Archaeology. Clark Erickson, Samantha Seyler. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 451930)

Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 24646