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The Bioarchaeology of Societal Collapse and Regeneration in Ancient Peru

  • Danielle Shawn Kurin

Part of the Bioarchaeology and Social Theory book series (BST)

Table of contents

About this book

Introduction

This book explores how individuals, social groups, and entire populations are impacted by the tumultuous collapse of ancient states and empires. Through meticulous study of the bones of the dead and the molecules embedded therein, bioarchaeologists can reconstruct how the reverberations of traumatic social disasters permanently impact human bodies over the course of generations. In this case, we focus on the enigmatic civilizations of ancient Peru. Around 1000 years ago, the Wari Empire, the first expansive, imperial state in the highland Andes, abruptly collapsed after four centures of domination. Several hundred years later, the Inca rose to power, creating a new highland empire running along the spine of South America. But what happened in between? According to Andean folklore, two important societies, known today as the Chanka and the Quichua, emerged from the ashes of the ruined Wari state, and coalesced as formidable polities despite the social, political, and economic chaos that characterized the end of imperial control. The period of the Chanka and the Quichua, however, produced no known grand capital, no large, elaborate cities, no written or commercial records, and left relatively little by way of tools, goods, and artwork. Knowledge of the Chanka and Quichua who thrived in the Andahuaylas region of south-central Peru, ca. 1000 – 1400 A.D., is mainly written in bone—found largely in the human remains and associated funerary objects of its population. 

This book presents novel insights as to the nature of society during this important interstitial era between empires—what specialists call the “Late Intermediate Period” in Andean pre-history. Additionally, it provides a detailed study of Wari state collapse, explores how imperial fragmentation impacted local people in Andahuaylas, and addresses how those people reorganized their society after this traumatic disruption. Particular attention is given to describing how Wari collapse impacted rates and types of violence, altered population demographic profiles, changed dietary habits, prompted new patterns of migration, generated novel ethnic identities, prompted innovative technological advances, and transformed beliefs and practices concerning the dead.

Keywords

Bioarchaeological Perspective on Collapse and Reorganization Chanka Origins and Community in Andahuaylas Cranial Modification and Ethnogenesis Cranial Trauma and Violence in the Post Wari era Inequality and Innovation in the Aftermath of the Wari Empire The Life and Death of the Wari Empire in the Andean Hinterlands

Authors and affiliations

  • Danielle Shawn Kurin
    • 1
  1. 1.University of CaliforniaSanta BarbaraUSA

Bibliographic information

  • DOI https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-28404-0
  • Copyright Information Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016
  • Publisher Name Springer, Cham
  • eBook Packages Social Sciences
  • Print ISBN 978-3-319-28402-6
  • Online ISBN 978-3-319-28404-0
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