Doctor of Philosophy
This dissertation is an archaeological study of the Carabamba Valley (ca. 150 - 3,500 m.a.s.l.) in Northern Peru, which aims to reconstruct settlement patterns through the longue durée (ca. 1800 B.C. - A.D. 1532). This study also documents the relations occupants of this frontier zone maintained with neighboring polities on the Peruvian North Coast (Virú Valley) and in the Northern Highlands. The valley features the resource-rich ecological niche called chaupiyunga, fed by rainwater that flows towards the Pacific Ocean and by a number of springs, where crops like coca, fruits, and vegetables can be easily grown. The Carabamba Valley also acted as a natural corridor enabling and even fostering interactions and trade between the lowlands and highlands. Yet, despite the importance of such area during Prehispanic times, over the past century, archaeological research in Northern Peru has mainly focused on core areas, with little attention paid to peripheries such as the chaupiyungas. This doctoral project documents the Carabamba Valley chaupiyunga, therein shedding new light on wider geopolitical processes that have shaped the development of early complex societies in this part of South America.
I used existing maps and satellite imagery to plan a pedestrian survey of the valley, carried out in 2019. During fieldwork, 48 archaeological sites were surveyed and mapped with a lightweight Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV). I also carried out a surface collection of ceramic artifacts and recorded all aboveground architecture, which led to the creation of a four-phase chronology of the valley. Data on architecture and orthomosaics produced with the UAV helped reconstruct the population size at different moments in time. Spatial analyses were carried out with a Geographic Information System (GIS) software (ArcMap), allowing us to document social, political, and economic developments that marked the history of the region prior to the Conquest. I found that the Carabamba Valley was a dynamic frontier where peoples with different material cultures, sociopolitical organizations, and worldviews interacted. The valley was influenced by both coastal and highland groups, but results show that locals kept a high degree of autonomy through time, likely acting as cultural brokers who facilitated intergroup interactions.
Summary for Lay Audience
Archaeological research conducted in Peru has generally focused on monumental sites located at the center of states or empires that developed in this part of South America before the Spanish Conquest (A.D. 1532). This has led Andeanists to neglect areas located farther from large urban centers, despite the key role they played in connecting human groups from different regions and the fact that they usually controlled highly desirable resources (water, crops, minerals, etc.) that were essential to them and their neighbors. One such understudied area is the Carabamba Valley (150 - 3,500 m.a.s.l.) in Northern Peru, which connects the coastal Virú Valley to the highlands. This dissertation reports on a doctoral research project in which I conducted a survey of the valley, identifying and mapping archaeological sites, collecting artifacts from the surface, and documenting aboveground architecture. This work confirmed that the valley had been occupied over a long period of time (ca. 1800 B.C. – A.D. 1532) and that it was the theater of continuous interactions between local communities and groups that occupied the neighboring coast and highlands.
Sghinolfi, Amedeo, "Life in Between: Prehispanic Settlement Patterns of the Carabamba Valley, Northern Peru" (2021). Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository. 8318.
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