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Title: Maize and Sociopolitical Complexity in the Ayacucho Valley
Author: Finucane, Brian
ISNI:       0000 0000 4681 2427
Awarding Body: Oxford University
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2007
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This study examines the ways in which maize agriculture influenced and/or catalyzed the development of sociopolitical complexity in the Ayacucho Valley of Peru. First, a revised chronology is devised for Ayacucho based on a new series of radiocarbon dates. This new timeline indicates that the hegemony of the Wari state in the Ayacucho Valley spanned the period from ca. AD700 to AD1050. Then using the record ofpaleodiet contained in the stable isotopes of carbon and nitrogen in human and animal remains from 16 archaeological sites, it is shown that maize was the mainstay ofhuman subsistence from at least ca. 800BC until the time of the Spanish Conquest. Clear evidence is presented documenting the preeminent role of this cereal in the domestic economiesof early Formative societies and the later Wari polity, the first urban state society of the Andean sierra. The first evidence for the use ofmanure as fertilizer and maize as animal fodder in the prehistoric Andes is presented. Additional variation in stable isotopes of nitrogen is assessed and it is suggested that the elevated 51SN values of one prehistoric group betray their coastal origins. The economic data from stable isotopes are also evaluated in light of the changing demography of the region, as documented by human remains and settlement patterns. A cache of modified human skulls are considered and it is argued that these remains represent trophies captured during intercommunal raiding and displayed as emblems of prestige. Finally, the implications of this new evidence for the development ofAndean civilization are considered and directions for further research are proposed.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Oxford University, 2007 Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available