Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy




Jean-François Millaire


This dissertation is an archaeological study of statecraft in the Virú Valley, Peru, during the Early Intermediate Period (ca. 400 B.C. – A.D. 800). Virú was the subject of an influential research program in the 1940s (the Virú Valley Project), which produced important datasets for studying early complex societies in the region. But recent work has begun to upend many of the original conclusions, pointing to the need for a thorough review of the chronological foundation on which they rested, and calling for the re-analysis of ancient settlement patterns and infrastructure projects as proxies of the increasing centralization of authority during this key period of Andean prehistory.

The starting point for this research is Gordon Willey’s (1953) settlement pattern study and James Ford’s (1949) ceramic seriation—what I call the Ford-Willey sequence. These were seminal works but their conclusions are no longer entirely tenable. The first part of this dissertation re-analyses and updates Ford’s work. It is concluded that corporate and domestic ware ceramics are fundamentally different classes of object that developed along separate timescales and should not be seriated together, that the Virú Valley sequence shows far more continuity than the Ford-Willey sequence indicated, and that the period from ca. 400 B.C. – A.D. 750 should be considered a single cultural sequence—Virú—with an Early, Middle, and Late phase. This updated cultural sequence for Virú provides a more reliable scheme for dating settlement patterns than was previously available. The second part of this dissertation explores Early and Middle Virú statecraft by mapping sites using satellite photography and Geographical Information Systems (GIS) software. It is concluded that the valley was unified into a single polity with its capital at the Gallinazo Group during the Middle Virú Period, and that this polity sponsored a program of infrastructure building to materialize its power and to develop political authority over valley.

Appendix A.pdf (3919 kB)
Dissertation appendix A

Appendix B.pdf (528 kB)
Dissertation appendix B

Appendix C.pdf (1008 kB)
Dissertation appendix C

Virú Valley archaeological settlement patterns (2015).kmz (260 kB)
kmz (Google Earth) file with select dissertation data