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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Archaeological Investigations at Zorropata: Local Socioeconomic and Political Development in a Context of Imperial Wari Expansion

  • Author(s): Kerchusky, Sarah Lorraine
  • Advisor(s): Schreiber, Katharina J
  • et al.

This dissertation investigates the impact of Wari imperial encroachment on local cultural, political, and economic practices during the Middle Horizon (AD 600–1000) at a local habitation site Zorropata located in the Las Trancas Valley in Nasca, Perú. Empires expand and incorporate new peoples and territories via strategies that are conversant with and contingent upon local socio-political and economic circumstances. Therefore, investigating the local circumstances (i.e., the historically contextualized local cultural practices, sociopolitical organization, and economic practices and organization) is integral to a study of imperial interaction.

During the Middle Horizon, the Wari, one of the earliest New World empires, expanded from their Ayacucho homeland into the Nasca Region and established at least three colonies (Pacheco, Pataraya, and Inkawasi). Archaeological research of Nasca settlement patterns from this period suggests that the local impact of Wari encroachment was significant. A large portion of the population appears to have resettled from the Nasca and Taruga Valleys south to the Las Trancas Valley, away from and perhaps in contention with the Wari.

The present research utilizes archaeological data from surface analysis and excavation at Zorropata to consider the following: 1) the implications of local population movement on a local Las Trancas community in a context of Wari imperial expansion; 2) the nature of Nasca-Wari relationship and in particular whether and in what ways the Wari may have established some form of political or economic control over this local community; and 3) effects of imperial agendas and policies on this community.

In addition to the primary research goal introduced above, this dissertation considers the local Middle Horizon polychrome ceramic tradition (Loro) in its stratigraphic, cultural, and temporal context. This dissertation also takes a household approach to investigate Zorropata as a local Nasca community occupied during the Middle Horizon in light of the trajectory of Nasca society. Data generated by this research allow for investigation of social status differences, the use of space at the site, the local economy, the production of goods and the use of raw materials (e.g., pottery production or lithic manufacture), cooking, serving, and storage practices, and other traditional labor practices. These data are in turn used to document how local agency functioned to maintain some cultural practices while innovating others in the wake of an empire.

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