Crucible of Andean Civilization: ...
2006 by The Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research. All rights reserved 0011-3204/2006/4705-0002$10.00 Current Anthropology Volume 47, Number 5, October 2006 745 Crucible of Andean Civilization The Peruvian Coast from 3000 to 1800 BC by Jonathan Haas and Winifred Creamer The focus of the development of the first complex, centralized societies on the coast of Peru between 3000 and 1800 BC was a portion of the coast known as the Norte Chico, where more than 30 large Late Archaic sites with monumental platform mounds, ceremonial plazas, and residential architecture have now been identified. Differing theories have been offered to explain the emergence of complex polities in this region. New settlement and radiocarbon data suggest an alternative theoretical model that posits a regional sphere of interaction with a dominant political nexus in the Norte Chico region and participation by maritime fishing communities up and down the coast. Why do we have government? What role does government play in society? How do some people come to exercise power over others? These basic questions about the complex orga- nization of society have played a central role in anthropo- logical and political theory since the inception of these dis- ciplines. This paper examines recent archaeological work in the Andean region to add further empirical insight into these questions. The Andean region is widely recognized as the locus of development of one of the world���s six major independent civilizations (Mesopotamia, Egypt, India, China, Mesoamer- ica, and the Andes). Although ���civilization��� has been defined in many different ways, in a global sense it is taken to apply to those few exceptional cultures that develop formal insti- tutions of government (sometimes referred to as the ���state���), urban centers, organized religion and art, monumental con- struction projects, marked social stratification, and a highly productive agricultural economy (Trigger 2003 see also Mose- ley 1975, 3). In order to investigate the cross-cultural process of their emergence in the Andes directly, it is necessary to look at the period when Andean people were making the initial transition from relatively simple to complex forms of social, economic, and religious organization. These emergent societies are ���complex��� in the sense of having many different parts and many different social, economic, and political roles, including centralized leadership. There is a growing body of evidence suggesting that this transition from simple to highly complex societies first took place in the Andean region during the Late Archaic period, from about 3000 to 1800 BC (all Jonathan Haas is curator in the Department of Anthropology of the Field Museum (1400 S. Lakeshore Dr., Chicago, IL 60605, U.S.A. [firstname.lastname@example.org]). Winifred Creamer is Professor of An- thropology at Northern Illinois University. The present paper was submitted 6 IV 05 and accepted 9 I 06. radiocarbon dates are calibrated see Burger 1995 Moseley 2001 Richardson 1994 Wilson 1999).1 It was during this time that the relatively simple cultural systems of nomadic hunting, fishing, and gathering underwent a major transformation to a much more complex level of social, economic, and cere- monial organization (Haas and Creamer 2004). Ephemeral campsites and small fishing villages were replaced by per- manent residential and ceremonial centers with irrigation ag- riculture and large-scale communal architecture. The com- munal architecture in turn is a key indicator of the appearance of stable forms of centralized leadership and decision making as well as a formally organized religion. It was in a fairly short period of time between about 3100 and 2900, at the beginning of the Late Archaic, that one small area, known as the Norte Chico (���Little North���), witnessed a stable and qualitative evolutionary change that resulted in a significant and permanent increase in the complexity of the cultural system and made the region the crucible for an emer- gent Andean civilization. The Norte Chico was the first region to undergo a transformation that involved the appearance of large ceremonial/residential centers with monumental archi- tecture, the advent of distinctive religious/ceremonial archi- tecture (Williams 1972, 1980, 1985), a differentiation between maritime-oriented coastal sites and inland agricultural sites, specialized fishermen and agriculturalists, the emergence of locally (as opposed to regionally) centralized decision making, new kinds of relationships between respondent populations and power-holding elites (Haas, Creamer, and Ruiz 2005), 1. Raw radiocarbon dates from published sources have been recali- brated using Calib 4.4 (Stuiver and Reimer 1993 Stuiver et al. 1998) to provide appropriately comparable dates. Individual cal BC dates represent a calculated median date and are given only as an approximate age. They do not fully reflect the statistical range of possible dates for any given analyzed radiocarbon sample.
746 Current Anthropology Volume 47, Number 5, October 2006 and distinct differences in status and rank (Shady and Leyva 2003). From these beginnings in the third millennium BC the Andean region moved onto a new trajectory that ultimately led to such classic and highly complex Andean civilizations as the Moche, Wari, Nazca, Chimu, Tiwanaku, and Inca. Ex- amination of the emergence of the earliest stages of civilization in the Andes makes it clear that the Peruvian coast resembles ���crucible��� areas in other parts of the world���such as the Deh Luran Plain of Iraq, the Olmec heartland of Mexico, and the Nile Valley of Egypt���in some ways and not in others. Anthropologically, the transformation of the Norte Chico cultural system at the turn of the third millennium BC is interesting for three reasons: 1. It takes place in a context that corresponds to what Fried (1967) would call a politically ���pristine��� situation (see also Haas 1982 cf. Shady 2003a, 2003d Shady and Leyva 2003). Although there was certainly some form of interaction be- tween the Norte Chico and outside areas, there are no in- dications that there was an existing outside polity that was more complex and exerted influence over the evolution of the Norte Chico system. 2. It endured. The first appearance of large sites with mon- umental and ceremonial architecture at around 3100 BC was followed by at least 1,300 years of cultural continuity (Haas, Creamer, and Ruiz 2004). This was not an episodic phenom- enon but a lasting transformation that put the region on the evolutionary pathway to a unique Andean civilization. Fur- thermore, subsequent development to the north and south on the coast as well as to the east in the highlands can be directly traced to Norte Chico antecedents. Large platform mounds with associated sunken circular plazas quite similar to those found throughout the Norte Chico in the Late Ar- chaic appear in the Initial period (1800���1000 BC) in the Casma Valley (Williams 1985 S. Pozorski and T. Pozorski 1986, 1990 1992 T. Pozorski and S. Pozorski 2000) to the north and the Lurin Valley to the south (Burger and Salazar- Burger 1991). The same pattern is also a dominant element in the site layout of the Early Horizon (1000���200 BC) high- land center of Chav�� ��n de Huantar, just northeast of the Norte Chico (Lumbreras 1970, 1971 Burger 1992). Thus the be- ginnings of a distinctive Andean civilization can be traced directly to the Late Archaic occupation of the Norte Chico. 3. It happened very quickly. In other world areas, the de- velopment of similar levels of cultural complexity took place over millennia (e.g., Wright and Johnson 1975 Liu and Chen 2003 Manzanilla 2001), while in the Norte Chico it took only a few centuries. Prior to about 3100 BC there were no large, organized urban/ceremonial centers with monumental com- munal architecture anywhere in the Peruvian landscape. Then, in the Norte Chico, by no later than 2800 there were multiple large sites, all with diverse residential complexes, large plat- form mounds, and circular plazas. Overall, the Norte Chico makes an ideal archaeological laboratory for examining the endogenous emergence of a hi- erarchical, stratified cultural system under pristine conditions. Complexity, Chiefdoms, and States One issue that arises in the study of the development of complex societies is the application of broad evolutionary stages. Specifically, in Peru there has been considerable dis- cussion of whether a society is a state or chiefdom and when the first states or chiefdoms may have arisen. However, in the Andean region there is little agreement on how to distinguish states and chiefdoms anthropologically or in the archaeolog- ical record. Feldman (1983), for example, argues that the coastal Late Archaic (3000 to 1800 BC)2 site of Aspero, located at the mouth of the Supe Valley, was a chiefdom. Shady (2003a, 94���95) argues that the inland site of Caral, a con- temporary of Aspero in the Supe Valley, was the capital of the first pristine state in the Andes in the Late Archaic. Lum- breras (1972, 1974, 1981, 1989) makes a case for the Chav����n culture���s representing the first state society in Peru (see also Kembel and Rick 2004). The Pozorskis (S. Pozorski and T. Pozorski 1987) argue that a state society first arose in the Casma Valley during the Initial period. Stanish (2001) and Billman (2002) in contrast, argue that the first states to arise in the Andean region developed only in the Early Intermediate period, between 200 BC and AD 600. Isbell and Schreiber (1978) date the emergence of the state even later, to the Middle Horizon, between AD 600 and 1000. Although in some ways the distinction between states and chiefdoms helps to clarify issues in the development of cultural systems (Service 1975 Haas 1982 Creamer and Haas 1985 Feinman and Marcus 1998 Grinin et al. 2004 Brumfiel 1994 Earle 1987, 1991) in others it seems to obfuscate them (see Yoffee 2005). Rather than attempt a definition or make an effort to refine and operationalize the labels of state and chiefdom in the present context, we will use the more general though still slippery concept of cultural ���complexity��� to examine the very begin- nings of a distinctive Andean civilization. The utility of such a vague concept as ���complexity��� may also be questioned, and with good reason (see, e.g., Salzman 1999), but when the problems are recognized and addressed the term can be productively used to describe sociopolitical variation. Clearly, all human cultural systems are complex, and increased complexity might be measured in myriad dif- ferent ways. Nevertheless, the idea of the transformation of cultural systems from relatively ���simple��� to relatively ���com- plex��� provides a useful heuristic guide for demarcating critical transitions in the evolution of cultural systems in the Andean region. An analogy with music may be helpful in this context. Beethoven���s piano e ��tude Fu ��r Elise, for example, is a relatively 2. The term ���Late Archaic��� is used here to facilitate comparison across the regions of Peru. This period is also referred to as the ���Late Precer- amic,��� ���Cotton Preceramic,��� or ���Upper Archaic.��� While ���archaic��� carries unfortunate connotations of ���early��� and ���relatively simple,��� the term ���preceramic��� is not widely applied away from the Peruvian coast and also presents problems in terms of distinguishing ���preceramic��� occu- pations from ���aceramic��� occupations (S. Pozorski and T. Pozorski 1990).
Haas and Creamer Crucible of Andean Civilization 747 simple piece of music. It was written for a single instrument, the piano, and it is simple enough in terms of its structure that it is often used for practice by beginning piano students. Beethoven���s Quartet in A Minor, op. 132, for two violins, a viola, and a cello, is a more complex piece of music in that it involves more players and instruments playing different parts. Beethoven���s Ninth Symphony, in turn, is so much more complex that in addition to more instruments and players, it requires a leader to pull all the different parts together. Finally, Beethoven���s opera Fidelio, with singers and drama along with orchestral music, is an even more complex piece, with dif- ferent kinds of agents in a wide variety of interacting roles��� stars, chorus, brass, strings, percussion, conductor, prompter, and so on. Cultural complexity can be viewed similarly. As cultural systems evolve, they add more parts human agents assume a wider range of social roles or what Gearing (1962) called ���structural poses.��� In response to changing cul- tural, demographic, and environmental conditions, new social forms may emerge with more types of social roles and more people playing those roles. One of the major turning points is the introduction of the leader, who assumes a fundamentally different and central role in decision making and coordination of the diverse parts. In no way does this evolutionary devel- opment of more complex cultural systems represent ���pro- gress,��� going from poor to rich or good to better, just as Fidelio does not represent ���progress��� over Fu ��r Elise. In the broad spectrum of the evolution of human cultural systems over the past 15,000 years, there has been a general global trend toward increasing social complexity (Service 1962 Peregrine 2001 Haas 2001a). Highly successful and relatively simple hunting and gathering groups of family bands have dominated human history. As population grad- ually increased and the diverse niches of the world filled in with equally diverse cultural groups, at least some cultures changed and became more complex in different areas as peo- ple adapted to environmental, demographic, and social pres- sures. In six separate parts of the world���what we would call ���crucibles of civilization������ this process of increasing com- plexity led to the endogenous emergence of distinct civili- zations���Mesopotamia, Egypt, India, China, Mesoamerica, and the Andes. Although they follow the same general pattern, each of the six early civilizations is distinct and has its own history and trajectory of evolutionary change. Returning briefly to our musical analogy, the six different world areas could be looked at as somewhat analogous to the bodies of work of six different composers. Each produced similar kinds of music (solos, chamber pieces, symphonies, and operas), but they are all unique. Similarly, the civilizations of the six world areas underwent similar processes of change and even- tually converged on similar levels of cultural complexity, but their paths and histories were unique. The general pattern of increasing cultural complexity starts with a common foundation in nomadic hunting and gath- ering bands exploiting a wide range of resources. Under cer- tain cultural and material conditions this relatively simple cultural pattern is followed by a cultural transformation stim- ulated by the origins and spread of agriculture. (Agriculture of course is not an inevitable outgrowth of hunting and gath- ering any more than a symphony is an inevitable outgrowth of a chamber piece.) With few exceptions, agriculture leads to new economic and social formations and the appearance of settled villages. Similar patterns of reduced mobility and village formation also occur with increased dependence on stable resources���herd animals, marine resources, and a wealth of gatherable resources. Societies with settled agricul- tural villages are structurally more complex than hunting and gathering societies in having more people playing a wider range of roles. A further step in the evolution of cultural complexity is the layering of hierarchical and/or heterarchical forms of leadership and centralized decision making (Service 1962 Sahlins and Service 1960 Fried 1967 Crumley 1995 Creamer 2001). In response to continuing and new pressures, a small number of world areas, the six crucibles of early civilization, subsequently displayed further layering with the emergence of social stratification, marked political hierarchies, centralized and organized religion, labor specialization, urban centers, and vast public works projects. The Norte Chico Late Archaic Despite general agreement that one of the world���s first pris- tine civilizations developed in the Andean region of Peru, there is less agreement about when and how this evolu- tionary transformation took place. Research in the past 10���15 years has more precisely identified the first area to undergo this historic transition (Shady and Leyva 2003 Shady, Haas, and Creamer 2001 Haas, Creamer, and Ruiz 2004). What appears to be the locale of the initial transition from simple to highly complex social organization is a stretch of the Peruvian coast just south of what is commonly called the North Coast and just north of what is commonly called the Central Coast, an area locally referred to as the Norte Chico. Research in the Norte Chico has shown that this region was the focus of a major cultural florescence during the Late Archaic period, 3000 to 1800 BC. More than 30 large sites from this time period have been found with significant monumental architecture and extensive residen- tial architecture (fig. 1) (Kosok 1965 Williams and Merino 1979 Engel 1987 Vega-Centeno et al. 1998 Shady et al. 2003  Haas, Creamer, and Ruiz 2004). Radiocarbon dates from 18 of these sites (table 1) confirm their Late Archaic date and establish that the area was occupied con- tinuously and intensively for at least 1,200 years (Feldman 1980 Zechenter 1988 Shady, Haas, and Creamer 2001 Haas, Creamer, and Ruiz 2004). The Norte Chico region has been the focus of theoretical writings concerning the nature and causes of the emergence and development of complex polities in the third millennium BC. Moseley (1975, 1985, 1992, 2001, n.d.) stimulated con- siderable interest in this period with his presentation of the
748 Current Anthropology Volume 47, Number 5, October 2006 Figure 1. The Norte Chico, showing locations of Late Archaic sites and modern towns. theory of the maritime foundations of Andean civilization (see Osborn 1977 Wilson 1981 Raymond 1981 Bonavia 1982, 1991, 1993���95 Quilter and Stocker 1983 Quilter 1992). The basic premise of the theory is that the organization of procurement and distribution of marine resources was central to the initial development of complex social and economic systems in the Andean region. Moseley has also argued that the incipient Andean civilization was unique in being based on a marine economy and not on agriculture and particularly cereal grains. It has long been known that there was a wide variety of domesticated plants in early coastal sites (see Quilter 1991), but it has generally been assumed that these were of secondary importance and grown in floodplain lands at the mouth of rivers. As more information has become available about the occupation of the coast, the theory has evolved to incorporate a stronger role for agriculture, but the critical role of marine resources remains central to it (Moseley 1992, 2001, n.d. Sandweiss and Moseley 2001). The archetypal maritime site in Moseley���s model was As- pero, at the mouth of the Supe Valley (Moseley and Willey 1973 Moseley 1975, 2001). Aspero extends over approxi- mately 15 hectares and has six communally constructed plat- form mounds. According to the figures provided by Moseley (1975, 86), the largest of these mounds is about 3,200 m3 in 3. The earliest date of 4,900 160 BP (3690 BC) has been judged too early (Feldman 1983, 77) but in light of other dates of a similar age from inland sites in the Norte Chico may need to be reconsidered.
Haas and Creamer Crucible of Andean Civilization 749 Table 1. Date Ranges for Late Archaic Sites with Communal Architecure Site Earliest Known Date Latest Known Date Valley Reference Salinas de Chao 3,280 140 BP (1570 BC) 1,250 90 BP (AD 790) Chao T. Pozorski and S. Pozorski (1990, 484) El Para�� ��so 3,790 100 BP (2230 BC) 3,020 60 BP (1270 BC) Chillon Quilter (1985, 281) Porvenir 4,930 70 BP (3720 BC) 3,040 80 BP (1280 BC) Fortaleza Haas, Creamer, and Ruiz (2004) Caballete 4,830 70 BP (3600 BC) 2,580 70 BP (680 BC) Fortaleza Haas et al. (2004) Huaricanga 4,780 50 BP (3570 BC) 2,580 80 BP (670 BC) Fortaleza Haas et al. (2004) Cerro Blanco 2 3,720 90 BP (2120 BC) 3,390 70 BP (1680 BC) Fortaleza Haas et al. (2004) Shaura 3,660 60 BP (2030 BC) 3,080 70 BP (1330 BC) Fortaleza Haas et al. (2004) Cerro Blanco 1 3,600 70 BP (1950 BC) 2,950 70 BP (1160 BC) Fortaleza Haas et al. (2004) Cerro Lampay 4,540 41 BP (3202 BC) 3,423 40 BP (1658 BC) Fortaleza Vega-Centeno (2005) Kotosh 2,040 100 BP (60 BC) 1,350 140 BP (AD 700) Huanuco Ravines (1982, 184), Izumi and Terada (1972) Bandurria 4,530 80 BP (3220 BC) 3,740 100 BP (2150 BC) Huaura Fung (1988, 95) Punta y Suela 9,750 110 BP (9170 BC) 2,430 70 BP (560 BC) Pativilca Haas et al. (2004) Upaca 4,180 110 BP (2740 BC) 2,160 70 BP (210 BC) Pativilca Haas et al. (2004) Vinto Alto 4,040 70 BP (2580 BC) 3,700 110 BP (2100 BC) Pativilca Haas et al. (2004) Huayto 3,820 70 BP (2270 BC) 3,800 70 BP (2240 BC) Pativilca Haas et al. (2004) Carreteria 3,760 70 BP (2230 BC) ��� Pativilca Haas et al. (2004) Pampa San Jose �� 3,790 60 BP (2230 BC) 3,540 70 BP (1870 BC) Pativilca Haas et al. (2004) Potao 3,215 35 BP (1480 BC) ��� Pativilca Haas et al. (2004) Aspero 4,900 160 BP (3690 BC) 3,950 150 BP (2450 BC) Supe Feldman (1983, 77) Caral 4,090 90 BP (2660 BC) 3,640 50 BP (2010 BC) Supe Shady, Haas, and Creamer (2001, 726) Lurihuasi 4,060 140 BP (2610 BC) ��� Supe Zechenter (1988, 519) Allpacoto 3,740 125 BP (2150 BC) ��� Supe Zechenter (1988, 519) Piedra Parada 3,430 80 BP (1740 BC) ��� Supe Zechenter (1988, 519) Pueblo Nuevo 3,340 235 BP (1650 BC) ��� Supe Zechenter (1988, 519) La Galgada 4,110 50 BP (2690 BC) 3,130 80 BP (1390 BC) Tablachaca Grieder et al. (1988, 69) volume. Recognizing the presence of such monuments at an early site was a significant first step in identifying the Norte Chico as the location of an early, preceramic cultural devel- opment on the coast of Peru. Excavations by Feldman, one of Moseley���s students, confirmed the central importance of maritime food resources at Aspero and demonstrated the mounds��� cultural origin (Feldman 1980, 1983). Feldman ob- tained seven radiocarbon dates from Aspero, ranging from 3500 to 2500 BC.3 The picture of the Norte Chico began to change in the late 1980s with the work of Engel in the Supe and Pativilca Valleys. Engel (1988) identified a number of sites with large-scale architecture in inland locations. He correctly inferred from the form of these sites and the lack of surface ceramics that they dated to the Cotton Preceramic Era or what is referred to here as the Late Archaic. Zechenter (1988) was the first to generate radiocarbon dates from any of these inland sites, and she showed that three of the inland sites in the Supe Valley dated to the third millennium BC. Shady���s work at the site of Caral (elsewhere called Chupacigarro Grande [Kosok 1965,