The Role of the Toad in the Middle Horizon Andes: A Chemical and Iconographic Analysis

Author(s): Ann Laffey

Year: 2019


This is an abstract from the "Seeing Wari through the Lens of the Everyday: Results from the Patipampa Sector of Huari" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

Here we present preliminary findings of chemical analyses performed on a Middle Horizon pottery sherd (c. 600-1100 AD). The sherd originates from the capital region of the Wari and has the striking iconographic representation of either a frog or a toad with visual indications of preserved residues. Compound groups will be isolated via esterification and gas chromatography mass spectrometry will identify lipid compounds such as cholesterol, FA16:0, and FA18:0. These compounds can indicate either plant and/or animal products. We will also be using metabolomic techniques to isolate alkaloid and biomarker compounds specific to bufotoxins. We intend to juxtapose the identification of the chemical remains with that of the exterior decoration of the vessel by contextualizing the toad within the corpus of Southern Andean Iconographic Series (SAIS) and Wari sensibility. If bufotoxins are discovered in the clay, it could witness a ritual practice that was integrated into Wari culture much like the iconographic representations of the SAIS. By tracing the two variables in tandem, the chemistry and the iconography, it is hoped that we can shed further light on the cultural processes that fostered one of the first expansive empires in the Andes.

Cite this Record

The Role of the Toad in the Middle Horizon Andes: A Chemical and Iconographic Analysis. Ann Laffey. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 452286)

Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 26291