Context, Construction and Ritual in the Development of Authority at Chavn de Huntar

Download Context, Construction and Ritual in the Development of Authority at Chavn de Huntar

Post on 19-Jan-2016




0 download


  • 1

  • The goal of this contribution is to fill in gapsin our knowledge about the monumentalcenter of Chavn de Huntar (plate 1.1), based oninvestigations at the site over the last decade. Theaspects of the site mentioned here are just a fewof those we have researched, but I judge them tobe among the most important. My secondary goalis to relate these characteristics of the site to larg-er questions about the nature of the organizationof the center, how it related to surrounding com-munities and centers, and how and why Chavnchanged over time. I will make frequent referenceto the findings described in fellow team-memberKembels chapter 2 in this volume, which provideessential knowledge about construction, chronol-ogy, and strategy derived from the architecture ofthe center.

    Chavn de Huntar remains a surprisingly un-known site on quite a number of levels. The sitesmonumentality, striking setting, and easily identi-fiable iconic style led to its early recognition andimportance, and to the postulation that Chavnwas the place of origin, perhaps the center of, thefirst large-scale political entity in the central Andes(Tello 1929, 1960). Yet the fairly deep burial of thesite by unstable sediments, combined with thecomplexity of overlying post-Chavn occupationlayers and the very small amount of cultural ma-terial built up in the ceremonial precinct in Chavntimes, led early research to rely on rare and unrep-

    resentative pockets of cultural debris to under-stand site growth and the nature of Chavn occu-pation. The advent of radiocarbon dating did lit-tle to clarify the antiquity of the centers use, or itsduration (compare Burger 1981; Lumbreras 1989,1993). From the beginning the ceremonial centerwas uncooperative in producing traditional layer-cake stratigraphy that would aid in this process.Lumbreras (1977, 1989) was the first to have anysuccess in understanding the complex stratigraphyof the center itself, and like that of all investiga-tors, his work was hampered by not penetratingbelow the latest level of Chavn occupation.

    Two other interrelated and important figuresin the development of understanding aboutChavn are Marino Gonzles M. and John H.Rowe. Gonzles spent most of his life investigat-ing and primarily clearing and restoring the site,and I have recently argued that his vision of thesites development was literally built into the siteas he modified and influenced it (Rick and Rick2003). Gonzales chose which structures to revealand preserve, and based on Gonzless field notes,I believe that he originally observed the buildingseams and other site features that originated theOld Temple/New Temple distinction. Rowe, whospent two fairly brief seasons at Chavn in 1961and 1963, was highly influenced by Gonzlessideas of Chavns construction history. Rowe wasmost interested in the chronology of Chavn and


    1 .



    John W. Rick

  • built an initial intertwined chronology for the ar-chitecture and lithic art of the monument, takinga pattern of architectural growth as the basis forthe time sequence (Rowe 1962, 1967a). None-theless, the lack of any absolute dating, or any de-tailed ceramic association with the architecture,hampered specific and reliable chronological con-clusions. Burgers work (1984, 1998) beyond themonumental sites boundaries greatly increasedthe knowledge of ceramic chronology, not tomention the degree of residential developmentaround the center, but it intrinsically could not re-solve the persistent chronological problems relat-ed to the center itself.

    Chavns monumentality led to an emphasison clearing the structures, in work that varied be-tween rapid and indiscriminate removal of over-lying deposits, to careful consideration of post-Chavn layers. But most excavations, whatevertheir character, fortunately stopped upon reach-ing the carefully laid floors and walls of the latesttemple periods. While this was of great benefit inavoiding destruction of Chavn architecture, ithas until now forced the interpretation ofChavns history on a very flat, surficial perspec-tive, using what can be seen on the surface ofChavn as a laterally segmented but full represen-tation of whatever had been there. Such a per-spective would be preposterous for any majormonument whose later constructions fully ob-scure the earlier ones (as widely observed in thecentral Andes and Mesoamerica), and this view isprobably inappropriate at Chavn as well. Themonumental center must be understood on itsown terms and within a comprehension of themassive construction projects that it represents.Discovering the strategies and intentions behindthe evolution of the monumental architecture, itsadornments, and contents should be a major goalof investigations at the ceremonial center. Thegrowth of the site is likely to reflect the strategiesof a developing religious authority, and also thechallenge of construction and maintenance of thebuildings. If we can assume that Chavn was theresult of construction over many hundreds ofyears, it must span an important segment ofAndean prehistory, one in which the Andean pat-terns of strong authority were being developed.

    Like many monuments of its time, it should holdclues to the ways in which populations were mov-ing from relatively egalitarian and smaller-scalesocieties to much larger populations with increas-ingly differentiated power and privilege. Under-standing any part of those transitions is one of thegreatest perspectives that archaeology can pro-vide, and Chavn, properly read, has a great dealto contribute to this perspective.

    CHAVN FIELDWORK: 19952003

    Together with Kembels chapter 2 (this volume),this article is a preliminary synthesis of data fromnearly a decade of investigation at Chavns mon-umental center by a team of US and Peruvian in-vestigators, within the context of the numerousprevious investigations by earlier archaeologists.Chavn has been regularly subjected to excavationssince Tellos initial work in the 1920s, and due tothe catastrophic aluvin (debris flow) of 1945 thatre-covered much of the site, a great deal has beenexcavated twice! Our project, initially developed atStanford University, began as a simple mappingproject with the straightforward goal of produc-ing a reliable and precise, primarily two-dimen-sional plan of the site. This, however, underesti-mated the challenge of documenting this highlythree-dimensional site, and particularly ignoredthe value of graduating from the idea of maps asuseful representations of sites, to using three-di-mensional models as active tools in archaeologicalanalysis (Rick et al. 1998). Our initial aim was tomake use of the available architectural informa-tion that had been provided by the prior extensiveclearing and excavation activities.

    In 1995 and 1996 we undertook JulyAugustfield seasons with a modest-sized team devotedentirely to mapping, using a total station theodo-lite, controlled by computer and with real-timedisplay of the developing map on the computerscreen. In the first season it became clear thatother specialized technologies would be requiredfor accurate mapping of the extensive subter-ranean gallery system, and this task was undertak-en by Silvia Kembel, who provides details on thiswork and its implications in chapter 2 of this vol-ume (see also Kembel 2001). In 1998 we finished


  • mapping most of the exterior and gallery areas andcontinued a series of very small excavations, begunin 1996, that would allow us to clarify specific ar-chitectural issues that analytical work within ourevolving CAD model had pinpointed (Rick et al.1998). These excavations were primarily designedto reveal the presence or absence of exterior seamsdownward to wall foundations of Buildings A, B,or C (figure 1.1). As a secondary goal we attempt-ed to recover datable carbon materials for under-standing the age of layers at or above the local

    foundation level. Similar small units continued inour next major field season in 2000, along with ex-cavations aimed at new issues. Units on the westside of Buildings A and B had revealed deep filldeposits, leading to excavations to determine thesediment depth and nature of cultural features inthe West Field, an area west of the currentChavn-Catac road (figure 1.1). Also in 2000 itseemed likely that at very short notice the mod-ern road connecting Chavn with the Callejn deHuylas would be moved to the other side of the


    Figure 1.1. Map of Chavn de Huntar, showing location of excavations. Letters and text are designations ofbuildings and site features; numbers are excavation locations. 1 = West Field excavations 2000, 2001; 2 = north-ern and western facade excavations of Building A-B-C (1998, 2000); 3 = NEA excavation (1996), CaracolasGallery excavation (2001), and Circular Plaza excavation (2001, 2002); 4 = eastern facade excavations of BuildingA (1996); 5 = Plaza Mayor excavation (2001). Lateral scales in meters; arrow indicates true north.

  • Mosna River, leading us to initiate survey and ex-cavation within the projected roadbed area at LaBanda, east of the monumental center.

    In 2001 we turned to diverse excavations thatcould contribute to a series of issues:1. Exploration of what appeared to be an early

    Chavn residential deposit in the West Fieldarea explored in 2000.

    2. Excavation of late Chavn and post-Chavndeposits overlying the floor of the CircularPlaza, with an eye toward eventual conserva-tion work in this area.

    3. Exploration of the deposits contained in theCaracolas Gallery to see if intact gallery ma-terials remained.

    4. Excavations to investigate a strong ground-penetrating radar anomaly discovered in 1998in the exact center of the Plaza Mayor.

    5. Continuation of La Banda excavations to in-vestigate deeply stratified Chavn and post-Chavn deposits found in 2000.In 2002 we continued with excavation and

    conservation work in the Circular Plaza and theentranceway of the Caracolas Gallery. Efforts in-cluded precision documentation of the post-Chavn architecture that is likely to be removedin efforts to restore the monument to a Chavn-period appearance.

    The alternative road projection that led us towork across the Mosna River in La Banda in 2000and 2001 returned dramatically and unexpected-ly in 2003, leading to emergency excavations inthe altered roadbed trajectory. Major, deep, andhighly stratified urban deposits were encoun-tered, leading to a long field season running fromJuly to December in which La Banda was theoverwhelming focus of cooperative field effortsby Stanford, the Instituto Nacional de Cultura,and other Peruvian investigators. Subsidiary workwas done in small-scale excavations at the north-ern entrance to Building A and along the southbank of the Wacheqsa River. Because it will notbe mentioned further in this chapter, two addi-tional discoveries from La Banda, in the excava-tions of graduate student project member JohnWolf, are worth noting. (1) In the basal deposits

    of one unit, at about 2 m of depth, a stratigraph-ically segregated component of Preceramic occu-pation remains was found. The material cultureassemblage principally consists of chert andquartz projectile points (figure 1.2), flakes, andunifacial tools; a modest number of large animalbones (all identifiable specimens of which are ofdeer), and a few ground stone tools. This evi-dence, combined with stratigraphic features andsediment characteristics, suggests the presence ofa mid to late Preceramic open-air encampment inLa Banda. (2) Relatively near to the Preceramiccomponent, another unit revealed a well-madeand well-preserved elaborate hearth of squareform, with an elongated ventilation duct leadingto it (figure 1.3). The hearth is apparently not inassociation with pottery but lies immediatelybelow ceramic-bearing layers, and substantialamounts of ash and charcoal were found in itsvicinity. Its form is highly suggestive of a latePreceramic or Initial Period hearth. Togetherthese finds suggest the presence of pre-Chavn oc-cupations in La Banda, in the immediate vicinityof the temple complex.

    These investigations, combined with the pub-lished information from prior investigators atChavn, constitute the basis for the following ob-servations about Chavn.


    For many visitors and investigators the largemonument of Chavn is surprising within its nar-row valley setting, raising important questionsabout the reasons for its siting on both a region-al and local scale. Although possibly due tochance, more likely this location can reveal someof the intentions of its creators. For instance, ithas been argued that Chavn is on a natural routebetween coast and eastern lowlands (e.g., Burger1992a:129), but this can be argued to the con-trary. While the Rio Mosna is a tributary of theMaraon, every major river of this part of theAndes, excepting the Rio Santa, is as well. To fol-low the Mosna to the tropical east involves hun-dreds of kilometers of extra travel to the north,but a direct route east across this latitude re-quires traversing major altitude differentials ineastern Andean ranges. A simple GIS route



    Figure 1.2. Projectile points from a Preceramic component in unit 18, La Banda,across the Mosna River from monumental Chavn (excavations of John Wolf)

    Figure 1.3. Ceremonialhearth found in unit 19 (2 2meters), La Banda (excava-tions of John Wolf)

  • analysis optimized for minimal altitude changefor this part of the north-central Peruvian Andesspecifies what is apparent from the examinationof topographic maps: that the better route lies tothe south of the Chavn area (figure 1.4). Thissoutherly route stays at higher altitudes withoutdescending into, and back up out of, most of thedeeper inter-Andean drainages.

    Chavn lies at the conjunction of the Mosnaand Wacheqsa rivers, the largest confluence ofrivers for some distance in this region. TheWacheqsa drainage does form a particularly tran-sitable route between the Callejn de Huylasand Chavns Callejn de Conchucos. Not unusu-al but perhaps of some significance are the hotmineral springs in the Mosna drainage that brack-et the monumental center at a distance of abouta kilometer upstream and downstream. This par-ticular segment of the Mosna River has promi-nent rock outcrops that create a dramatic land-scape and also provide a number of important rawmaterials used in the site, including quartzite/sandstone, volcanic tuff, and black fossiliferousand veined limestone. Reinhard (1985, 1987) pro-vided dramatic photographs and arguments thatChavns location was determined by its geo-

    graphic relationship to the nearby high mountainof Huantsan. It may well be that proximity to aparticularly sacred mountain was a factor inChavns success as a ceremonial center, yet thereare a number of similar locations within a reason-able radius of Huantsan that could have playedthis role; the specific local siting may be due tomultiple ritual, economic, historic, or other influ-ences.

    These factors suggest that Chavn is locatedat a point of unusual features of potential ritualand strategic importance. But another issue, ob-vious on the landscape to the geological eye, mayhave been important (Turner et al. 1999). It isstriking that the site lies at the upriver extreme ofa small expanse of flat land, approximately 1 3km in size in a floodplain-like formation that infact was caused by an ancient landslide thatdammed the Mosna River (figure 1.5). Sedimentsaccumulated within the resulting lake and even-tually formed an unusually flat area of deep sed-iments, originally near the level of the MosnaRiver. The river is now eroding down throughboth the lake sediment and the landslide deposits,gradually leaving the sediment surface as a ter-race. This area of flat land, lying mostly on the


    Figure 1.4. GIS route map showing optimal eastwest route in the north-centralAndes of Peru. The route indicated (initially ascending the Fortaleza River drainage)minimizes altitudinal change between the Pacific Ocean and the Amazonian lowlands;Chavn is not on or near the optimal route. Map produced by Dana Jensen.

  • west side of the river, is intensively farmed today,and because the high-gradient Wacheqsa Riverenters from this side, water for irrigation can bediverted fairly easily to the area. This land repre-sents an opportunity for small-scale but highlyproductive farming activity that is not common-ly found within this section of the Mosnadrainage, and its intimate association with theceremonial center may be more than coinciden-tal. The land area is too small to have supporteda very large population, but the deep and fertilesoils may help explain the initial siting of themonument and may have provided some of theresource surplus that funded labor-intensive con-struction. Also potentially important is thatChavn is locally surrounded by three large-scaleearthflow deposits that form the valleys hillslopes(Turner et al. 1999).While these are common fea-tures of the Mosna drainage, they are highly fer-tile and are completely cultivated today. Thus,

    Chavn was located in an area of diverse produc-tive agricultural settings that would have allowedsomewhat larger-than-normal farming popula-tions to develop. In the upper portions of theCallejn de Huylas and Callejn de Conchucos,significant extensions of deep, flat, irrigable soilare exceedingly rare, and thus this exceptional fac-tor might explain some singular aspects of themonument of Chavn.

    Notably, the temple itself is located upriverfrom the flat lake sediment area, where the toe ofthe Cochas earthflow contacts the alluvial fan ofthe Wacheqsa River. As I will specify later,bedrock is also found in this location, and becauseof erosion by both converging rivers, the site restson a somewhat elevated spur, in an area confinedby literally encroaching, down-moving hillslopesand bounded by relatively large rivers with steepriver scarps.This suggests that the large structureswere developed in a location with a potentially


    Figure 1.5. Digital elevation model view of the location of Chavn de Huntar (lower center), look-ing toward south-southeast; Mosna River drainage is in the foreground; Wacheqsa tributary streamcomes in from the middle right. The flat area below and to the right of Chavn is an area of pond-ed deposits caused by an ancient landslide. No vertical exaggeration is shown. Model provided by DanaJensen and James Rohr.

  • firm and elevated substrate, but at the cost ofbeing on a small, bounded parcel very subject tothe active forces of river erosion and mass wast-ing of immediate hillslopes. Adjacency of build-ing material does not seem to have been an over-whelming factor, because the best and nearestbedrock exposures of the predominantly usedquartzites and sandstones are on the other side ofthe Wacheqsa and Mosna rivers. Thus, the spe-cific siting of the monument seems to have beeninfluenced most by foundation deposits and localtopography, while location within the Mosnadrainage may reflect access, agricultural resources,and building materials. On a regional level, Cha-vns position within dramatic topography and itsout-of-the-way location may have been importantfor general ritual considerations but may have alsoconditioned the experience of those who traveledto and spent time at the center. This suggests thatthe site began with strategic and technologicalconsiderations as the most important, but giventhe ritual importance that the site apparently had,some aspects of siting may reflect positioning ona sacred landscape that we do not yet fully under-stand.


    In chapter 2, Kembel gives a more detailed ac-count of the specific construction sequence andphasing we propose for Chavn. For convenienceI am providing an approximate chronologicalchart in figure 1.6, but for details on sitechronology the reader should consult Kembelschapter. In essence, the earliest known construc-tions at Chavn seem to have northward en-trances and do not necessarily conform to the U-shaped pattern familiar in the Initial and EarlyHorizon Periods. By the middle of the growthprocess, however, Chavn does take the form ofbuildings surrounding open areas which, at leastby the end of the architectural sequence, becomeplazas, with a U-shaped arrangement and a rough-ly eastwest axis bisecting the enclosed space, andalso intersecting the Lanzn monolith, withinBuilding B (see also chapter 2). The commonal-ity with the well-known U-shaped monumentlayout, particularly frequent and apparent incoastal sites (Williams 1980), is suggestive of in-

    creasingly strong relationships between Chavnand the rest of the Formative world. But somelarger questions remain about why the growthoccurred in the way it did. For instance, thegrowth of U-shaped structures that occurred inmany places in the Andes in most cases preservedthe original axis of symmetry. Not so in Chavn,where the east-oriented site axis shifts southwardbut maintains an approximately 13.3-degreesouth-of-east, parallel direction (figure 1.7). Themost striking aspect of Chavns growth is that itdoes not add symmetric structures along theoriginal axis but rather expands the temple in anew, laterally displaced configuration. Symmet-rical expansion of a U-shaped configuration isnever easy, but arrangement of the overall com-plex and its specific features was made immense-ly more complicated by the displacement of theaxis.

    Two already-mentioned local constraints mayhave played a large role in the axis shifts. For thesite to have grown from the oldest suspected U-formation (the NEA and early phases of BuildingsB and C: figure 1.1), it would need more space, inboth horizontal and vertical dimensions. Whilethe former is obvious, the latter is undoubtedly animportant component of similar early ceremonialcenters, where a vertical range going from inten-tionally sub-excavated plazas to towering moundsis intrinsic to monumental design. Because of thefew excavations that penetrate below late phaseChavn buildings, we do not know if the early con-figurations emphasized sunken plazas, but there isno question that the latest one did, having at leastthree such features: the Circular Plaza, the PlazaMenor, and the Plaza Mayor. The first of these isusually felt to be part of the Old Temple, and thesecond is generally not recognized, but there isabundant evidence to place all these plazas in thefinal monumental constructionswhat we termthe Black and White Stage (Rick et al. 1998;Kembel, chapter 2, this volume).

    Chavns location conditioned the directionsin which it could easily grow. A westward shift innew east-oriented constructions would hide thenew structures behind the old, or require the dem-olition of the old structures to properly configurethe low, forward plazas and elevated, rearwardplatforms. A northward shift would lose altitude,



    Figure 1.6. Chronological chart showing approximate temporal relationships betweenconstruction phases of Kembel (see chapter 2, this volume) and ceramic time periods incalibrated radiocarbon year.

    Figure 1.7. Map of Chavn de Huntar showing the earlier, eastwest axis (upper line) and the later axis (lowerline). The Rocas Drain is incompletely illustrated; patterned areas are bedrock; ? = area of possible bedrock.

  • suffer constriction between the rivers, and lose thefirmer foundation substrate. Moving south waslimited by the steep hillslope deposits of theCochas earthflow that narrow the valley in this di-rection, but a slight shift would increase perceivedheight by taking advantage of the edge of the orig-inal elevated spur on which the earlier buildingswere placed. Expansion to the east would run intothe Mosna River but would allow the new struc-ture to adopt or expand on the old buildings.Moving lower parts of the monument toward theeast would increase the height differential by tak-ing advantage of the falloff of the Mosna Riverscarp. Although there is some evidence of earlierconstruction to the south in the area of the PlazaMayors south flanking mound (figure 1.1; see alsoKembel, chapter 2), that evidence is from the stageimmediately preceding the clear definition of thenew axis in the Black and White Stage (figure 1.6;see Kembel, chapter 2) and does not seem part ofa clear architectural strategy. Within these choic-es, Chavns footprint and vertical differentialseems to have grown by both upstreamdown-stream lateral shifting (NS) along the MosnaValley, and shifting forward or backward (EW)on the laterally displaced axis.

    An eastward expansion along the earliest ap-parent eastwest axis was made difficult by thepresence of bedrock lying directly east of theearly U-form of the Expansion Stage (figures1.1, 1.4; and Kembel, chapter 2). Shale bedrockis currently visible to the close observer imme-diately north and at the top of the MiddendorfStaircase; other probable bedrock is found to thesouth and east of Building D and in the RocasDrain (the largest known drainage canal). Toavoid downcutting through extensive bedrock, asouthward displacement of the axis would havebeen a likely solution; it is notable that the con-figuration of the late axis U-shape has the min-imum displacement necessary to clear knownbedrock locations. Bedrock thus seems to havebeen particularly responsible for the shift south-ward of the expanded sunken plazas and lowersurfaces, given the immense labor costs of mas-sive bedrock removal.

    The specific distance of the shift south mayreflect additional factors. We have found that, as

    observed from the center of the enclosed space ofthe earlier U-shape (which happens to coincidewith the later Circular Plaza), the southern hemi-sphere summer solstice sunrise occurs over asharply pointed hill east of the Mosna River. Thehorizon sighting, however, is not in line with theolder architectural axis running through the U-shape of the Expansion Stage, but well to thesouth (figure 1.8). The hill itself, a prominenthorizon feature from most places in the ceremo-nial center, has an artificial platform on its top, andits surface is littered with potsherds of various pe-riods, among them a variety of Chavn-periodwares. It seems likely that this horizon point wasin fact observed from along the older axis of thecomplex (and might have something to do withthe positioning of the early temple buildingsaround that axis), but this would no longer havebeen possible along the later temple axis, as de-fined through centerlines of the columnar gate-way and the various eastwest staircases.This newaxis itself is reasonably close, if not perfect, in ar-chitectural alignment with the same hilltop, ratherthan providing a solstice observation point. Oneinteresting possibility is that the preservation ofsome relationship with this platformed hill wassufficiently important to influence the degree ofsouthward displacement, and that a direct align-ment was an effective substitution for a solsticealignment in activities to be performed in thelarger, newer U-shaped configuration (figure 1.8).The later construction of the Circular Plaza, ex-actly along the older axis, may indicate a contin-ued use of the solstice alignment in late-stage ac-tivities. These possible alignments are in fact theonly evidence we have been able to find of anyspecific attempt to coordinate the architecture ofChavn with landscape or sky. Our work has notreplicated the findings of a number of other in-vestigators who have postulated astronomicalarrangements at Chavn (Romano 1994; Scholtende DEbneth 1982).

    Taking into account the current location ofthe Mosna River, a southward displacement witheastward extension would make sense, since theriver curves dramatically eastward exactly wherethe later U-form extends the farthest in this di-rection. Although it might seem that this is a


  • happy coincidence of bedrock and riverbed, thereare reasons to believe todays river course is notthat of Chavn times. First, the current course ofthe river is strikingly odd: this river has a fair gra-dient and is flowing rapidly through a nearly lin-ear canyon, yet takes a very notable bend in itsotherwise rather straight course exactly at thepoint of the late U eastward extension.This is themost prominent bend that the river displays any-where near Chavn, and there is no clear naturalexplanation for the pattern (figure 1.9). Second,the river scarp and terrace fragments near Chavnshow a linear pattern that suggests the originalriver path was straight across the area where theeasternmost buildings of the later U lie. Third,around 1930 the Mosna River attempted to changeits course substantially, in an apparent return tothe pre-temple course indicated by old terraces.The rivers action cut away a substantial portionof the south flanking mound, as documented byTello (1960), and the river was returned to its

    banks only through the implementation of majormodern river defense features, including massesof rock laid behind cement walls. Notably, seg-ments of apparent Chavn-age river megalithiccontainment walls remain on both sides of thecourse, suggesting the need to keep the river with-in an unnatural bed.

    Although the Mosna River might havechanged course naturally, the factors above sug-gest that such a change was more likely a resultof human intervention. This would be a substan-tial undertaking, but changing rivers courses isnot unknown in the prehistoric Andes, especial-ly later, during Inca times. Establishing if this ac-tually occurred at Chavn will require further in-vestigation, but our 2001 excavation in the centerof Plaza Mayor produced relevant data. In par-ticular, the lowest sediment that we encounteredin this area, starting at a depth of around 2.5 mbelow the current plaza surface and apparentlypredating site occupation, is a very dark, sterile,


    Figure 1.8. Aerial photograph of Chavn de Huntar, showing the Southern Hemisphere summersolstice alignment to the nearby hill from the Circular Plaza area of the early axis (upper line); thearchitectural alignment of the southern, later axis is to same hill (lower line).

  • water-saturated soil. We have identified this as aprobable river-edge deposit that would onlyhave occurred in this location if the river wereconsiderably closer (see figure 1.10). This, to-gether with the other mentioned evidence, helps

    argue that the expansion of the New Temple pe-riod was only possible by landscape modificationwhich likely included rerouting this sizable river.This of course makes the assumption that in ad-dition to the conditions mentioned above, the


    Figure 1.9. Aerial photograph showing the current course of the Mosna River, likely the originalcourse, and landscape features relevant to the original course.

    Figure 1.10. Eastern and partial northern and southern profiles of the Plaza Mayor exca-vation, showing basal sediments, boulder field, and layers related to the original plaza floor.

  • site designers were unwilling to change the tem-ple configuration to one that could be accommo-dated by the original available land surface.Given that a temple complex of considerable sizewould have been possible if the basic eastwest-aligned U-shape were not required, the effort tomove the river suggests that the actual realizedtemple form must have been of great desirabili-ty, perhaps due to conventions broadly shared inEarly Horizon times (Kembel and Rick 2004).


    From our excavations and surface work we havebeen able to make a number of novel observationsrelated to construction processes at Chavn.Starting with raw materials, we concur with mostinvestigators in identifying primary constructionmaterials as quartzite/sandstone, white granite,and black limestone (Turner et al. 1999). Ad-ditional materials used include a variety of ig-neous stones, the most frequent being the tuffused primarily in making the tenon heads thatadorned the major temple facades. The varioustypes of stone are not treated randomly acrosscontexts and probably not across time, either.Quartzite is rarely worked beyond the naturallyoccurring tabular form in which it is found near-by, and when it is, the primary technique isspalling, never cutting or polishing. This quartz-ite occurs as near vertically oriented natural slabswith a range of consistent thicknesses; the long-noted alternate coursing of thick and thin quartz-ite in the major platforms of Chavn is in fact aselection of some of the naturally occurring thick-nesses. A lightly calcium-carbonate-cementedbright white sandstone (as opposed to the highlyconsolidated grayish sandstone intergraded withquartzite) was used interchangeablyin terms ofarchitectural contextwith white granite, andboth stones are almost always cut, and probablyoriginally polished. Granite, along with a velvety-black veined limestone, are the raw materials ofalmost all engraved lithic art in the site, except-ing the predominantly tuff tenon heads and thecrystalline volcanic stone used in both columns of

    the Black and White Portal. Granite is frequent-ly used in structural elements such as wall ashlarsand plaques forming platform or plaza faces.Limestone in general is less frequently employed;when in an architectural context, it is almost al-ways in bilaterally symmetrical opposition togranite or white sandstone, and always used as cutstone. The largest, and probably the earliest,stones used in wall construction are quartzite, andI currently find no intact evidence for the use ofgranite, white sandstone, or limestone in any ar-chitectural context dating to the Separate MoundStage of construction, and I suspect that they arealso missing in the version of the temple formedby Buildings NEA and early phases of BuildingsB and C (figure 1.1), early in the Expansion Stage.The single major exception appears to be theLanzn image itself (figure 1.11; see discussion ofthe Lanzns relationship to other Chavn art inchapter 4, and exploration of its meaning in chap-ter 11, this volume), which is likely to predatethese construction stages, but it may be an excep-tion that proves the rule. The Lanzn may be theonly substantial piece of engraved granite used inChavn whose basic shape is not achieved bystonecutting. The Lanzn is a natural stone formthat has been extensively engraved, with perhapsone partial face that has been planed (the rear-ward part of the figures left side from about thelevel of the eye down to below the belt line). Untilour recent reformulation of the construction se-quence in Chavn, the extensive use of granite inthe Circular Plaza and its staircases would havebeen seen as an exception to this observation, butthe clearly late temporal position of the knownplazas serves to corroborate the lack of granite,limestone, and sandstone, and thus also of cutstone, in the earliest major construction stages atChavn.

    As Kembel (2001; chapter 2, this volume)makes apparent, the original concept that Chavngrew horizontally in just a few solid block addi-tions needs to be replaced with a much morecomplex pattern of both lateral and vertical ex-pansion. Over a very considerable period of time,the site grew in stages that transformed small,perhaps disjoint buildings into unified and im-posing structures. As with other cultures


  • throughout the world, the growth of structurespresents various dilemmas for continuity of siteuse, especially in religious structures whose ar-chitecture can be reasonably expected to havebeen highly invested with significance. Simplyput, if locations, surfaces, spaces, and large ob-jects had intrinsic meaning in their original po-sition, the incessant growth of monumental cen-ters almost inevitably implies losing the meaningby engulfing these places with later construction.Modifications to these meaning-laden structurescould destroy or at least remove highly sacred el-

    ements from visibility or access, unless thesecould be translated to the newer, larger struc-tures. Intentionally or not, Chavn avoided someof these problems by including lateral, asymmet-rical growth along with the rebuilding and over-layering of older structures. Yet an option exist-ed that we believe was utilized, which was tomaintain access to earlier structures and featuresthrough internal passageways. It appears highlylikely that the Lanzn Gallery, with its well-known sculptural centerpiece, may have begunits existence as a way to maintain access to this


    Figure 1.11. The Lanzn, a 4.5-m-high engraved monolith ofgranite, in its approximate original location within the LanznGallery, Building B, seen from the north side. The only apparent areaof artificial shaping of the stone is a flattening in the area of the fig-ures right arm.

  • clearly important sculpture. There is no doubtthat the Lanzn Gallery was created from an ear-lier freestanding structure (Kembel 2001; chap-ter 2, this volume) which, in a series of steps, wastransformed into a stone-roofed internal space ofreduced size by construction that overwhelmedit. The Lanzn itself may have been present forsome time prior to roofing, although the evi-dence is equivocal. Given what we know of gen-eral Chavn engineering abilities, it should havebeen easily possible to remove the Lanzn sculp-ture from this setting and place it in a new con-text, yet instead, considerable construction in-vestment was put into designing, constructing,and maintaining access to this earlier, presumablyhighly sacred locale. On this basis we can specu-late that at least in certain circumstances, therewas a balance between a need for growth and con-struction and a conservative force that requiredcontinued access to earlier facilities. There is ahappy coincidence between Chavns interest inmaintaining such access and the archaeologistsneed for understanding the internal structures ofthese structures from the inside out, as can beseen in Kembels effective analyses (2001; chap-ter 2, this volume).

    In terms of construction, it is increasinglyapparent that a great part of the effort of build-ing Chavn involved various types of orderly fill.The large, stone-faced platform mounds are pri-marily composed of orderly fill made up of rec-tanguloid, selected quartzite blocks, mostly onthe order of 3050 cm in length with a 20- to 30-cm square section. These lie in leveled layers ina matrix of various types of highly compact, grav-el-laden clays, mostly with a color range of yel-low to reddish brown. Orderly fills surroundingstone-lined galleries form the bulk of the mas-sive Chavn platforms and thus characterize thegrowth of Chavn de Huntar. These, however,are far from the only use of fills as a major archi-tectural element. Our excavations to date, most-ly conducted around rather than within themajor platforms, have shown a disconcertingpattern of Chavn-period fills extending downto, and often well beyond, the foundational levelof these large structures. In fact, on only two oc-casions have we apparently penetrated through

    all Chavn fill levels to find underlying naturalsediments. In both casesthe Circular Plaza andthe Square Plazathere are between 2 and 3 mof organized fill (like that of the platformmounds) underlying the plaza floors. In mostcases the small size of our explorations, or thepresence of formal Chavn architecture, has pre-cluded penetration down to sterile deposits. Butour excavations have demonstrated that many ofthe monumental center structures are built ontop of major Chavn period organized fill de-posits, indicating major investment in construct-ing and shaping the landscape on top of whichthe center sits.

    The degree of this investment became appar-ent in our 2001 excavations in the Plaza Mayor.In some respects it is not surprising to find majorstructures erected upon engineered fills, since thisenhances height and may be a requirement for thestability of the structures foundations. Sunkenplaza surfaces seem less likely to have receivedsimilar attention, but the Plaza Mayor showed thelengths to which Chavn constructors had gone toestablish a durable and stable surface. Excavationsshowed that the plaza floor, to the degree it re-mains after clearing operations in the mid-20thcentury, consists of highly compact, reddish claywith 25 mm shale angular microgravel temper(figure 1.10). Just a few centimeters below thisfloor is a single layer of typical, selected rectan-guloid quartzite stones neatly accommodated inparallel lines, much like a horizontal brick wall.Next we encountered a layer of crushed shalefillstill very porouslying on top of andaround a series of very large river boulders rang-ing in dimension from 50 cm up to at least 6 m.Although we could reveal only a limited area,these boulders are lying edge to edge in a tightlypacked fashion. In some cases these have been in-tentionally spalled, as if they were huge cores,seemingly to allow their accommodation within atight matrix of massive rocks (figure 1.12). This2- to 3-m-deep accumulation all rests on top ofthe black streamside deposit previously men-tioned. The costs of processing and assemblingthis subfloor construction were substantial, andthe job required major engineering if only inprocuring and placing the boulder field. The


  • clean shale fill, composed of surprisingly consis-tent, sharply angular fragments 2 to 4 cm in size,gives the impression of an intentionally producedand processed building material. The resultingplaza floor, complete with drainage system alongits lower, eastern edge, remains quite flat, with aconsistent, planar slope down from west to east inspite of at least 2500 years of accumulating un-even overburden. Over the eastwest width of theplaza, the substrates on which the plaza was builtprobably vary from compacted bedrock-derivedsoil to over-bank river clay deposits to riverbedgravels and cobbles. Given these varied and sub-optimal substrates, this construction techniqueseems to have been a good solution for long-termstability.

    Other fills seem to be have been generatedfor quite different reasons. The long trajectoryof Chavn not only witnessed major growth, butundoubtedly required maintenance and repair,along with demolition of architecture. It is high-ly likely that the lateral growth pattern, and theChavn interest in at least partial architectural

    symmetry, would require some dismantling orinfill of previous structures, and Kembel (2001)has made some progress with this intrinsicallydifficult subject. We have much more evidencefor response to challenges presented by the en-vironmentin particular, at least one major de-struction event: a sizable earthquake. In abouthalf of our excavations, particularly those alongmajor walls on the west side of Buildings A, B,and C, and in the areas west of the current road(figure 1.1), we found evidence of wall destabi-lization, destruction, patching, and accumulatedwall detritus at or near the foundational level.This pattern is so consistent that the event seemslikely to have affected virtually the entire site, al-beit in a more pronounced fashion in some con-texts, particularly west-facing walls. In the caseof the long west wall of combined Buildings A-B-C, virtually the entire wall has suffered sub-stantial damage: in places the facade is missingand in others the wall actually has negative bat-terthe opposite of the normal situation inmonumental Chavn walls (figure 1.13). In manyplaces support walls have been placed alongsidethe facade in an attempt to stabilize it, althoughthe age of the support walls is not always clear.Strikingly, in a number of cases platforms werebuilt directly on top of fallen wall stones, as ifthere were little or no attempt to remove de-struction debris before covering it (figure 1.14).Yet these platforms are of late Chavn origin,judging from their direct association with Jana-barriu-type ceramics. The largest of these sup-port efforts that we have observed thus far is theasymmetrical westward extension of Building C(figure 1.1), which in fact is a major support but-tress built around the apparently collapsednorthernmost segment of the long west wall ofBuildings A-B-C. All evidence at this time sug-gests that this event took place, in ceramic terms,in late Janabarriu times, at or around the begin-ning of the Support Construction Stage circa500 B.C. (for discussion of the dating of thisstage, see Kembel, chapter 2, this volume).

    Excavations in the area west of the A-B-Ccomplex have revealed a series of massive, inten-tional, but not very orderly fills that were placedagainst the destabilized walls. In the case of thesouthernmost extension of the A-B-C wall, we


    Figure 1.12. Plan view of the distribution of PlazaMayor excavation boulders

  • found at least 7 m of varied fills, ranging fromclean boulder fills to clay layers, built up againstthe virtually collapsing walls. This suggests thatsometime soon after the above-mentioned de-struction event (in the range of 410760 calB.C., as dated with our sample CdHCS29; seeKembel, chapter 2, this volume), the area lyingwest of the A-B-C complex was filled in with im-mense quantities of varied materials, apparentlyin a major effort to avoid the extensive collapseof the west facades of Chavns central struc-tures. We have found that at least one terraceobservable on the surface of the West Field is infact a major structure that was interred by thissame fill activity, leaving only the top of thebuilding exposed. The effort implicated in themassive volume of these fills is considerable but,


    Figure 1.14. Photograph of collapsed wall rocks in excavation CdH-10 on the west face of Building B(top of photograph); the wall to the left is an informal but massive support wall built over collapse material.

    Figure 1.13. Profile of CdH-4 excavation, showingmassive fill deposits (lateral shaded areas), Building Awall with seam A-W-1 that shows intact batter (cen-tral shaded area) and profile of the wall showing neg-ative batter (outward leaning) of wall.

  • significantly, this Support Stage effort shows lit-tle of the orderliness of the fills used in priorstages of construction. Like the earlier fills,however, they are massive and seem to signifythe intent of Chavn constructors to noticeablymodify the overall landscape context of theirstructures. Of particular interest is evidence oflate Chavn ritual activity in the form of elabo-rate broken-in-situ Janabarriu-period pottery inWest Field deposits capping these fills. It re-mains to be seen if the apparently catastrophicevent that led to these late fills was sufficientlydisruptive to be the major force responsible forending the expansion, and probably the ritualfunctions, of the center.


    Most authorities agree that monumental Chavnwas primarily a temple complex and thus can besupposed to have been the scene of important re-ligious ritual activity (e.g., Lumbreras 1989;Burger 1992a). While the significance and mean-ing of Chavn art and architecture have been thesubject of extensive treatment by numerous au-thors (Burger 1992a; Campana 1995; Cordy-Collins 1976; Lumbreras 1989; Roe 1974; Rowe1962, to mention a few), there has been an un-derstandable reluctance to speculate on what ac-tually happened in Chavn ritual. These ritualsmust have been at the core of the sites functionand design; thus any clues to what occurred areworth ferreting out, and some degree of tenta-tive speculation is probably worthwhile. Kembel(2001; chapter 2, this volume) mentions evidencefor change in the group size involved in Chavnritual over time, and Burger (1992a) has alsoused the dimensions and character of the archi-tecture to suggest aspects of ritual organization.In our researches we have added some specificevidence that I will concentrate on here, empha-sizing new understandings of the Chavn archi-tecture and in particular the context of new artdiscoveries.


    An inadvertent addition to ritual knowledge camein the form of a new cornice fragment that wasfound in the 1998 excavations along the west A-B-C wall in unit 7a. The stone, found face up at adepth of less than a meter below the current sur-face (and thus far above original Chavn founda-tion-level surfaces), is incomplete (figure 1.15).After searching through the corpus of cornicefragments stored at the site, we were able to finda matching fragment, reported by MarinoGonzalez (personal communication) to have beenfound along the east side of Building A, quite a dis-tance away. When reunited, the main, originallydownward-facing surface of the cornice displaystwo figures in apparent procession, with the lead-ing figure playing a Strombus trumpet.The follow-ing individual is prominently carrying a Spondylusshell and differs from the lead figure in havingfangs (along with other teeth), much more elabo-rate ear ornaments and hair arrangement (includ-ing headband and forehead ornament), and carry-ing an incompletely preserved object in the lefthand. The lead figure has a more complex dorsalfan or wing, and circular pectoral ornaments thatare missing on the trailing figure. On the original-ly outward-facing edge, the combined fragmentsshow three similar individuals also in a right-to-left procession, who are depicted with quite differ-ent objects and slightly variant adornment. Allthree appear to be carrying spears in their righthands, and the central figure has a shaft-like ob-ject, perhaps a spear-thrower, in his left hand. Twofigures have elaborate pectoral ornamentation inthe form of a fanged frontal-view face, but other-wise what is preserved of posture, vestment, andappendages appears analogous to the two largerfigures on the downward face. While it is unwiseto assume that this apparent procession is descrip-tive of Chavn ritual, the relatively pure humanforms suggest worldly action. The strong parallelsbetween the form and style of these figures andthose of the less well-preserved personages of theCircular Plaza plaques, which are felt by most au-


  • thorities to be paralleling real-world processionstoward the main staircase, argues for the likeli-hood of actual Strombus sound-making and majorprocessions. Interestingly, the procession of fig-ures from right to left makes little sense as a con-tingent entering farther into the temple of Cha-vn, as there are no known ground-level entrancesconvenient to leftward procession from either ourfind location or the reported find location of thematching fragment. Alternative explanationsabound for this directional problem, includingthe possibility that this is a procession retiringfrom the ritual location, that directionality of pro-cessional art was not meant to be realistic, or thatthese are not depictions of processions at all.Representations of weapons are rare in Chavn

    relative to ceremonial gear, and this cornice givesa secondary importance to arms as well, giventheir smaller size and placement on the corniceedge, rather than on the main face. Overall, thisengraving adds considerably to knowledge ofChavn lithic art, being one of the only examplesof multiple human figures, probably in proces-sion, that are in clear original relationship to eachother because they are on a single original stone.

    Understanding of the ritual-related art of theCircular Plaza improved somewhat with our2001 excavations, which fully revealed the south-west arc of the plaza wall. The northwest arc, re-vealed by Lumbreras in 1972, includes a line ofjaguar figures surmounted by plaques with hu-mans, all as if in procession toward the western


    Figure 1.15. Drawing of the face and edge of a cornice fragment excavated in 1998 from the west sideof Building A (left) joined with a previously known cornice fragment (right).


    Figure 1.16. Fragment of personage plaque from the 2001 Circular Plaza excavations, displaying an exact mir-ror image of the known San Pedro cactuscarrying individual from the north arc of engraved stones. This frag-ment displays most of the left leg of the individual, a pendant snake descending from the belt of the individual,and the lower stem and root structure of the cactus itself.

    Figure 1.17. One of the best-preserved jaguar plaques from the southern arc of the Circular Plaza, revealedin our 2001 excavations

  • staircase of the plaza. The human depictionplaques are completely missing in the southwest-ern arc, but we did find a fragment of a plaquewith the identical, but mirror image of the SanPedro cactuscarrying figure from the northwestarc in a post-Chavn intrusive pit that penetratesthe plaza floor (figure 1.16). This strongly sug-gests that the upper layer of personage plaqueswas originally present on the south side and hintsthat the plaques may have been matched pairs,with counterparts on the north side. The com-plete arc of jaguar plaques is present on the southside, with the sole exception of the two closest tothe western staircase. Unlike the incompletenorth arc, the transition from carved jaguarplaques to undecorated plaques is observable inthe south and occurs after Plaque 19, rather thanat 14, as has been frequently reported for thenorth side (Lumbreras 1989; Burger 1992a). It ishighly likely that the arcs were identical in hav-ing 19 jaguars, and both sides are primarily se-quences of pairs of nearly identical jaguar de-signs. On the north side, the discrepancy betweenan overall odd number of plaques and the patternof pairs is due to at least one mismatch amongthe plaques closest to the west staircase. Theequivalent plaques on the south side are far tooeroded to be sure of a parallel, but Plaques 1019are in pairs, so the break in the pairing patternmust also be relatively nearer the western stair-case. Only a few plaques of each sequence are wellpreserved (figure 1.17), and most of these are notmatching numbers in the respective arcs. In spiteof these conditions it is clear that bilateral sym-metry is not present, as the specific attributes ofthe pairs of jaguars are not a close match betweennorth and south arcs. In fact, between and with-in the arcs there are no identical jaguars exceptwithin individual pairs; although some are near-ly similar, at least one major attribute differs be-tween all known pairs. Given the near-systemat-ic pairing of jaguar figures, it is likely that thenon-matching among pairs and the break in thepair linesespecially when contrasted with ad-mittedly limited evidence for northsouthmatching of human personagesreflects an im-portant structure in this apparent complex ofprocessional art.


    As mentioned above and detailed by Kembel(2001; this volume, chapter 2), we consider thecurrently revealed Circular Plaza to have beenconstructed relatively late in the Chavn buildingsequence (Black and White Stage) and not at thetime of the major buildings that originally formeda U-like shape centered here (that is, prior to orduring the Expansion Stage of Kembel). The in-vestment of effort in the Circular Plaza area dur-ing or after the time of a major axis shift speaksto the continued importance of the older templecenter. There must have been a problem of howto maintain an important and impressive entrancepath to this older, but updated area of the center.One guesses that go to the Black and WhitePortal, turn 90 degrees right, and dog-leg to theCircular Plaza may not have been an elegant,dignified, or otherwise appropriate ritual path-way, due to the indirect connection it would makebetween the Plaza Mayor area of the later con-struction stages and this long-sacred ritualprecinct. The solution seems to have been to cre-ate a new path that maintained somewhat of anaxis-like approach, while respecting the domi-nance of the new axis/temple complex (figure1.18). The key piece of that procession way is theMiddendorf Staircase, the widest stairs in the site,which incorporated the largest pieces of cut gran-ite yet is otherwise inexplicably asymmetric andoriented for a southnorth passage, rather thanalong the usual eastwest axes of the largest stair-cases. This elaborate and costly staircase, uponclose examination, shows clear signs of being cutinto the middle of a much earlier and less formalstructure that seems to antedate the building ofthe newer axis temple, which we have argued ispart of the lower structures of the older axis tem-ple (Rick et al. 1998). The late use of massive andcut granite in the stairs is thus also consistent withother evidence that granite is a late, predominant-ly Black and White Stage phenomenon. If thestairs are seen to be part of an elaborate, grandentranceway to the older temple centerimpor-tant but neither paramount nor exclusivethisarchitectural effort begins to make sense.


  • At the risk of being somewhat circular in ar-gument, I take the accumulated evidence of path-ways, processional depictions, and axis symmetryto argue that much of Chavn ritual had to dowith the movement of groups of people withinthe site. An additional aspect worth mentioningis the evidence we have reported (Rick et al. 1998)that staircases were important framing elementswithin which other structures seem to be posi-tioned, and that they frequently bear depressionsor other marks that suggest they may also havebeen significant ritual settings in themselves. Thestaircases are the points where one shifts betweenlevels, and it seems reasonable to think that eachupward level shift involved a notable increase insanctity and a similar reduction in both the spaceavailable within the precincts and the number ofpeople permitted to make the transition (seeKembel 2001; and note the importance giventemple levels at Pacopampa in chapter 5, this vol-ume). The only exception to the upward shiftingwould be at the last level, in which those privilegedto reach the temples uppermost surfaces could de-scend into the even more restrictive gallery inte-riors. These transitions between architectural lev-els in the site may have signified many things, butthey probably played a large role in processionways, through which the Chavn visitors/initi-

    ates/participants observed or joined in meaning-ful actions.


    Our excavation of the Galera de las Caracolas(Gallery of Sea Snails) in 2001 is only the secondtime that substantial intact gallery deposits havebeen recovered archaeologically and reported,the first being Lumbrerass extensive account ofexcavations in the Ofrendas Gallery (Lumbreras1993). Caracolas is the smallest Chavn gallery,measuring 6 1.2 m, not counting its entrance-way. It has been known since the 1970s, when ini-tial testing by Lumbreras yielded fragments ofStrombus (conch) shell, giving the gallery its name(figure 1.19). The gallery proved to have largelyintact Chavn-period deposits, heavily overlain bylater prehistoric materials and modern sedimentsthat were mostly introduced through a largeopening in the ceiling, resulting from the collapseof rock roof beams. The original entrance was ex-cavated in 2002, proving to be a simple stairwaydescent on the east end of the gallery. The floorconsists of well-compacted gravelly clay, still eas-ily distinguished from overlying deposits. Lyingdirectly on this floor was a group of 20 complete-ly intact pututos, or Strombus galeatus shell trum-


    Figure 1.18. Isometric viewof a simple model of the lateconstruction phase architec-ture of Chavn, showing boththe straight-line path to theBlack and White Portal, andthe entrance path through theMiddendorf Staircase to theCircular Plaza and the Lanznarea.

  • pets (figure 1.20). Surrounding and overlying thetrumpets was a prehistoric deposit, thickest near-est the entrance and tapering to the interior, con-taining substantial quantities of heavily brokenand dispersed sherds, principally of highly pol-ished Janabarriu-type black ware pottery, plus asignificant quantity of large mammal (probablycamelid) bone. This material is most densely con-centrated in layer 2 of this above-floor deposit(figure 1.19); very few objects were found on ornear the floor other than the Strombus shells them-selves. Later ceramics, primarily of post-For-mative age, lie above in a still-higher deposit(layer 1) which seems largely derived from the in-troduction of washed-in materials since thegallery was last investigated in 1972. At this timethe most likely conclusion is that the gallery sawprehistoric use during two periods: one in which

    the original floor was maintained in a clean con-dition and the Strombus were ultimately deposit-ed, and a later (Janabarriu, Support ConstructionStage or later) period in which the gallery was re-opened and debris-generating activities occurred.

    A large quantity of broken and reworkedStrombus fragments also occur in the over-floordeposits, representing a minimum of nine addi-tional shells. The concentration of these shellfragments, many of which are by-products of themanufacture of shell ornaments, is found towardthe middle and western end of the gallery. Someof these reused shell materials show clear signs ofChavn-style iconography and are associatedwith the Janabarriu materials in the gallery. Theconcentration of shell fragments is complemen-tary to that of whole shells and appears to occurwhere the buildup of over-floor deposits was


    Figure 1.19. Caracolas Gallery southern wall (upper panel), sediment profile (central panel), and plan view ofdistribution of Strombus shell trumpets on the floor of the gallery (lower panel).

  • thinnest at the time of the second period ofgallery activity. It appears likely that most of theintact Strombus shells we found in the gallerywere completely covered by deposits at the latertime that this gallery was in use, and they mayhave escaped being broken and processed into or-naments because they were not visible. A seriesof shells, probably more than just the nine frag-mented individuals we documented, were re-moved and broken up in the process of using thetrumpets for raw material, with little regard fortheir original, presumably sacred function. Themajority of the intact shells were engraved, butonly three have unworn, clear designs.All the restare highly use-polished, especially in the posi-tions that a Strombus player typically holds the in-strument, and on many the original engravingshave been nearly worn away, indicating extensivehandling and use. These were heirloom instru-ments at the time of their deposition in thegallery, interred there only after a long period ofuse as sound instruments.The shells can still pro-duce tones, and center on a D pitch, with a range

    of two steps in either direction. When played to-gether, the shells not only produce an immensevolume of noise, but their tones interact to pro-duce a cyclical, attention-commanding beat. Ifthey were played in performances with 20 ormore shells within the sound-reflecting walls ofgalleries or the Circular Plaza, the sound mayhave had major, even physical impact on the lis-teners and may represent an important techniquefor creating an ambiance for rituals related to re-ligion, power, and authority.

    The Caracolas Gallery is relatively unlike theonly other excavated gallery, Ofrendas, on a num-ber of fronts, even though both were constructedsimultaneously within our architectural construc-tion sequence (Black and White Stage). The on-floor contents of these quite contemporaneousgalleries are almost completely complementary:Caracolas has only Strombus shell, while Ofrendashas no Strombus (except for a tiny representationof a shell in worked bone). Caracolas has virtual-ly no diversity of on-floor remains, while the in-ventory of Ofrendas includes a wide range of ce-


    Figure 1.20. Eight of 20 Strombus shell trumpets excavated in the Caracolas Gallery in 2001.Drawings by Helene Bernier.

  • ramic, stone, and bone materials. Lumbrerass in-terpretation of Ofrendas (1993) is that it was amassive, one-time deposit or offering. If so, thenCaracolas, with the presence of long-used trum-pets, suggests the contrary: that the gallery wasprobably a customary, long-term holding loca-tion for a single class of objects. Although manyalternative scenarios can be entertained, thisgallery may well have been the location fromwhich Strombus trumpets were retrieved en massefor ceremonies in the area of the Circular Plaza.The conditions of the abandonment of the shellsprior to their partial destruction for ornaments,either on the gallery floor or possibly hangingfrom walls or on now-disappeared furniture, sug-gests that the gallery itself was closed or inacces-sible for a period during late Chavn times. Rela-tively little remained of the above-gallery depositsat the time of our excavation, but we know thatthat this atrium area of the Circular Plaza washeavily affected by the previously mentioned lateChavn-period cataclysm. It is possible that theentrance to the gallery was covered with debris atthat time, and only later did late Janabarriu-peri-od activities re-expose the entrance.

    While it is hardly a novel suggestion (e.g.,Burger 1992a), Caracolas helps build the argu-ment that galleries had a variety of uses, includ-ing ritual settings, serving as contexts for massiveand diverse offerings (Ofrendas) and as storagelocations for ritual paraphernalia (Caracolas). It isinteresting that at least some of the late galleriesseem to have functions other than primary ritualcontexts, which may relate to Kembels idea thatexternal spaces became increasingly importantacross time (2001; chapter 2, this volume).


    Chavn seems to have been designed with an eyetoward creating a special ambiance for rituals thatwould have the power to influence the viewer.Presumably this context-induced persuasionprocess reinforced the message of the ritual andled to credibility of what may have been, at leastfor the times in which it took place, an incredible

    message. If this were not the case, one wonderswhy a credible message would require such rein-forcement. The ingestion of psychoactive sub-stances (Cordy-Collins 1977), the extensive use ofimage and sound (Lumbreras et al. 1976), and theambience of the galleries themselves presumablycontributed to this process of persuasion. Un-doubtedly, we are only privy to a subset of the ac-tions and artifices used by the Chavn leadership;presumably many have not translated well into thearchaeological record. One medium that can, I be-lieve, be added to the Chavn repertoire is light.The evidence for this assertion is in the pattern-ing and placement of ducts (frequently termedventilation shafts) that link galleries and thebuildings exteriors. The majority of these rough-ly 30 30 cm ducts are remarkably straight, andnot only are they so within individual shafts, butmany form straight lines, with the continuingshaft segments found across passageways, rooms,or other galleries. Most ventilators are eitheraimed down passageways, through doorways, orinto niches or alcoves; they very rarely point atblank interior walls. Considerable planning andeven architectural manipulation have gone intoensuring this strategic aim of the ventilators;one could even speculate that some aspects ofgallery layout may have been influenced by theapparent need to accommodate this so-calledventilation pattern. Yet the effort was largely un-necessary if simple air passage or even soundtransmission was the goal, as straightness has lit-tle value in that regard. Thus it seems likely thatthe shafts had another purpose, and the logicalpossibilitiesfunctions that would be enabled orenhanced by straightnessare light and visibili-ty. The field of vision allowed by most ventilatorseither into or out from the galleries is tiny, andmany exterior ventilator openings were suspend-ed high on near-vertical exterior walls. Thus,sighting through ventilators directly seems of lit-tle utility, and we can rule out sighting of celes-tial phenomena because the horizontal ventilatorsnever look out onto the sky due to the mountain-ous terrain surrounding Chavn.

    The possibility that sunlight was transmittedthrough ventilation shafts into the interior isprovocative, and we have observed that small



    Figure 1.22. Two photographs of light coming from the Lanzn Gallery central ventilation shaft,striking the Lanzn image

    Figure 1.21. Three-dimensional model of theLaberintos Gallery, with the roof removed, withdowel-like projections coming through the venti-lation shafts. Note that the shafts point down orthrough most of the gallery passages. The right-most ventilation shaft has a curve that would par-tially curtail light entry into the gallery; not allventilators led to outside surfaces in all stages ofconstruction. The image is based on a model developedby John and Silvia Kembel.

  • pocket mirrors held outside the ventilators canprovide a surprising amount of light in the inte-rior space. In some galleries, the ventilators forma virtual grid that could have sent light down al-most every major passageway and through everyroom (figure 1.21). The shaft-like passage of thishighly directional light through the somewhatdusty air of the galleries, as well as the brightsplash it makes on stone walls, creates a strikingother-worldly ambience in an otherwise dark set-ting. Perhaps corresponding to this possible useof light, Chavn deposits produce abundant evi-dence of the manufacture and presence of smallbut highly light-reflective anthracite mirrors,likely made from high-grade coal deposits foundin the upper Mosna River valley.

    Two additional observations support the hy-pothesis that light may have been brought intothe galleries. The first is that without some lightsource, the galleries are of very limited utility, asthey are quite dark at any distance beyond the en-tranceways. There is little evidence of soot de-posits on the ceiling beams of the galleries, some-thing that would be expected if the galleries hadbeen lit through burning torches or lamps. Manystone beams have accumulated a thin calcite layerthat would have sealed in, but kept visible anycarbon accumulation, much like the situation inmany famous rock art caves. If the ceiling beamswere plastered, as at least some gallery walls seemto have been, this would be a moot point, but Isuspect that roof plaster was not universal (wit-ness the engraved beams in the Vigas-Ornamen-tales Gallery) and would have been very difficultto maintain in position with dampness and grav-ity. The second is the particular arrangement ofthe central ventilation shaft of the LanznGallery. We conducted experiments projectinglight down this shaft, using an electric lightsource pushed to the outside extreme of the ven-tilator, a procedure made necessary by modernmodifications that have predominantly blockedthe exterior orifice.The face of the Lanzn imageis thus illuminated from forehead to chin, and theraking light striking this triangular-section imagefrom the front is ideal for emphasizing the en-graved features of the sculpture (figure 1.22).This suggests not only that simple illumination

    may have been used, but that the effects of thelight in ritual settings may have been calculatedand very much a part of the growing complex ofenvironment-conditioning phenomena that wereevidently strategized in Chavn. Given the diffi-culty of maintaining incoming reflected sunlightdue to the changing position of the sun, and giventhe possibility of night use of the galleries andother factors, I would not argue for an exclusiveor necessarily even a common use of reflectedlight. The evidence we have suggests a more stra-tegic, possibly dramatic, and experientially strik-ing use that might have been very effective in rit-ual context.


    The data from this article related to the growth,construction, and activities performed at Chavnde Huntar can be used to pursue more funda-mental issues about the nature of the cultural sys-tem that Chavn represents within its Andeancontext in the Early Horizon and perhaps earli-er. While we have the idea that Chavn is essen-tially a temple complex that increased in size overmany centuries, with substantial but perhapsvariable connections to other centers over time(Kembel and Rick 2004), we are far from under-standing what prompted the characteristics men-tioned here or those known from previous stud-ies. My proposition here is to try to read thestrategies implied by our current knowledge ofthe site. Certainly, we must exercise caution inreading the modern monument of Chavn, be-cause it reflects most strongly the condition ofthe site toward the end of its life as a monumen-tal and ritual location, although some aspects,particularly those related to construction andplanning, are indicative of the transitions to thisfinal temple configuration. It should also be em-phasized that the excavated archaeological sam-ple of the site, including from previous investiga-tions and our own, remains inadequate in bothspatial and temporal senses. Judging from theamount we have learned in a decade of relativelysmall-scale research, it can be expected that majoradditions have yet to be made to our knowledgebase.


  • Given the elaboration of the ceremonial cen-ter, including all the evidence we find for ad-vanced planning and engineering abilities, an au-thority structure must have been present.Striking and sophisticated aspects of the Chavnmonument include the abundant use of cut-stonewalls in the ceremonial precinct, the elaborationand integration of precision stone engravingsinto the architecture, and precise site layout andachievement of geometric forms (circles, squares)(Rick et al. 1998). Long-distance transport (at least10 to 20 km) of large stones over exceedinglyrough terrain was achieved, as exemplified by thegranite steps of the Middendorf Staircase, with itsfragile, highly elongated stone beams weighing inthe range of 1 to 2 metric tons. Quartzite rocks aslarge as 15 metric tons were procured, modified,and moved regularly, albeit, in all probability, ona more local basis: the largest boulders of thePlaza Mayor foundation layer are in this weightrange. Stone color symmetrical dualities were in-corporated in Chavn architecture by the laterbuilding stages.Still larger-scale projects, includingbuilding stable fills and moving river courses,were within the grasp of Chavn planning and ex-ecution. It is likely that these technical abilitiesincreased over time at Chavn, since some ofthese features are found only in later construc-tion, and it may be that the overall architecturaldesign at Chavn changed significantly over time.I argue, however, that over the likely 500- to1000-year period of monumental constructionthere are notable continuities in the basic con-cepts of what constitutes ceremonial construc-tion and the techniques used to achieve it. Theroles of staircases and (probably) plazas, the in-corporation of galleries, and the use of massivestone ceilings all seem to have significant timedurability, and even the clay-aggregate mixturesused in fills seem to be prepared to a constant for-mula over time.

    The fact that previous structures were well-integrated into later constructions makes clearthat continuity was of major importance. The ef-fort to maintain continued access to the Lanznand its space implies that the context and objectsof the past had value over an extensive time span.The investment in the construction and adorn-

    ment of the Circular Plaza and its atrium, clearlywithin the context of earlier buildings, helps con-firm this time-trangressive linking. The Lanznitself may be the strongest evidence for continu-ity in iconic information over time, but I suspectthat additional evidence will be foundor is al-ready in hand, but undatablefor continued useof image and symbolic content at Chavn. Thesefactors argue for the continuity of a complex ofengineering and symbolic knowledge, presum-ably on the part of a similarly continuous descen-dancy of a core elite who designed, underwrote,executed, and maintained the materialization ofwhat Chavn should be. From the evidence athand it seems probable that there was a group ofpriests, architects, and engineersgroups of indi-viduals who may have embodied one or more ofthese roleswho over time carried this projectforward. Thus it makes sense to think of Chavnas an evolving effort of a powerful group with acore strategy that may have itself evolved and cer-tainly was in substantial interaction with parallelsocial entities scattered across the Andes in otherritual centers (Kembel and Rick 2004). The sizeand labor involved in the construction, on top ofthe design continuity and engineering compe-tence, assure us that significant quantities of laborand organization were put together: Chavnwould have required that some individuals holdpower over others to obtain the resources and di-rect the projects realization.While this may seemobvious, it is less clear how strong that power wasand under what authority it was held.

    Given the temporal placement of Chavnprobably in the later Initial Period and surely dur-ing a good part of the Early Horizon, it would befoolish at this point to look to Chavn for the be-ginnings of power and authority in the Andes.Thelong-known and ever-growing evidence for latePreceramic complexity (e.g., Quilter 1991; Shadyand Leyva 2003) tells us that large local groups,substantial building projects, and presumably ini-tial forms of authority had been underway forsome time. Yet during the lengthy span of growthand ritual activity at Chavn, we can suspect thatfurther developments occurred, especially whenwe look at the evidence indicating that so manyelements that Chavn (and some other contempo-


  • raneous centers) developed are foundational tolater Andean societies. But what sort of authoritywas held at Chavn, and what was its strategy? Ibelieve the fundamental answers to those ques-tions can be found in the sites design and content.

    To understand the nature of Chavn authori-ty, we need to know the reasons behind the elab-orate construction and ritual activity at Chavn.One simple answer is that this was the result of adevotional system, in which the societies individ-uals were deeply committed to and willing to in-vest resources in a temple center because of theirintrinsic adherence to the religious concepts onwhich the system rested.Was there a devout priest-hood at Chavn leading a flock of devoted follow-ers who were eager for someone to coordinatetheir efforts in producing monuments thought ef-ficacious in supplicating greater powers? I arguethis is clearly insufficient to explain the nature ofthe site.

    First, it does not explain the evidence for ex-tensive interaction among the centers of this timeperiod. Evidence from Chavn clearly showsforexample, in the Strombus trumpetsthe well-known phenomenon of Early Horizon long-dis-tance interaction. There seems to have been asubstantial supply line, especially to and from thenorth, that could provide large numbers of bulkyand presumably valuable objects. The diversity ofdecoration on the Strombus shellsmost of whichwe think was not applied at Chavn itself, giventhe styles depicted (Van Valkenburgh 2003)suggests that the Strombi may have been obtainedfrom a variety of sources. Yet commonalities intheir final modifications and treatment suggestthat Chavn may have claimed them after theyarrived. The evidence of interaction and the con-centration of labor investment in ceremonial cen-ters throughout much of the central Andean coastand sierra argue for a sphere of interaction thatmust have involved a substantial role for the cen-ters, a role that would have given them access toresources from some distance (Kembel and Rick2004). The consultation of oracles may have beeninvolved in this, but such a belief systemequiv-alent to that of Pachacamac, for instancehadnot been established.Although both were massivecenters, I am not aware of evidence for Pacha-

    camac having Chavns panoply of media effects;in fact, Conquest period Spanish reports suggesta rather dismal shrine at Pachacamac, lacking in-vestment in the convincing mechanisms seen atChavn.

    But the interaction and exchange that Chavnengaged in was far from just a simple trade sys-tem. It is probable that the outsiders wanted toemulate precocious Chavn authority by obtain-ing the material and information output ofChavn and other centers, while Chavn sought toreinforce its priestly status and role by obtainingexotic and high-investment foreign objects.Initiates traveling to Chavn to obtain symbolsand knowledge that would demonstrate their ex-clusive status, and perhaps receiving or transmit-ting oracular information, would have reinforcedthe position of those in priestly authority in theirown distant localities. But reinforcement is nec-essary at two levels; those who are seeking a basisfor their own authority are trying to convincetheir own followers and are equally in need ofbeing convinced that the system they choose toally with is valid and their best option within afield of alternatives. Here again, Chavn is hardlyalone.This undoubtedly created multiple compe-titions: competition among those who might bein a position to claim Chavn-related status in alocal society, among those gaining such rank inadjacent local societies, most certainly amongthose Chavn-like centers seeking followers, andperhaps even among those who would lead Cha-vn itself. Two important conditions likely existedin such a situation. First, the centers had to ben-efit from the inclusion of outsiders in their cult,as alluded to above; and second, the competitionamong centers would almost certainly lead to thegrowth of the centers over time as well as to char-acteristics that would be particularly effective inconvincing potential inductees. But let me beclear: I believe that the interaction pattern of thisperiod was a reflection of competition and aspi-ration to status, as well as, perhaps, an expressionof the glory of the religious belief itself. Still, thereremains a very active question of just who was in-volved in the competition and interactionaquestion that brings issues of Chavn chronologyinto sharp focus. The timing of Chavns growth


  • that Kembel and I espouse would make a greatmany coastal centers at least partially contempo-raneous with Chavn, while Burgers later chrono-logical positioning of Chavn (chapter 3, this vol-ume) would diminish the size, membership, andduration of this greater interaction sphere. Thissituation requires resolution, steps toward whichare currently being taken by a dating project di-rected by Kembel.

    The second major aspect of the site that tellsus about the nature of authority has been a themeof this article: the evidence for extensive efforts tocreate an ambience in which local authority couldbe convincingly displayed and made self-evident.The combination of effects we can document forChavnnoise production in the form of water-generated sounds and loud Strombus trumpets, ap-parent manipulation of reflected light into gal-leries, and the evidence for use of psychoactivedrugs (Burger 1992a; Cordy-Collins 1977; Rick2006; Torres, chapter 9, this volume)wouldhave been particularly strong within the highlycontrolled and visually bounded settings of U-shaped temples and galleries. I argue elsewhere(Rick 2006) that the very nature of the architec-ture of Chavnwith its sunken plazas and tow-ering buildingscut off much of the view of theoutside world, and the decidedly divorced under-ground world of the galleries was aimed at creat-ing a place apart, where normal experiencewould be suspended, perhaps in an emulation ofshamanistic other-world experience. These fea-tures could be a way of promoting Chavn as a de-cidedly sacred place in order to increase devotion-al dedication on the part of those experiencing thesite. Two factors qualify this devotional aspect,however. One is that the apparently fearsome as-pects of the ambiencedarkness, fierce images,loud noise, enclosing architecture, and harshlightseem more likely to lead to distancingrather than to adherence to a cult based on ado-ration. The second factor is that the apparentinner sanctums, such as the Circular Plaza andgalleries, are not likely to have included many in-dividuals in any given event, thus ruling out thesefeatures as a means of fostering a broad devotion-al support base. The ambience-setting featuresseem instead to signify that those providing the

    services of the center and those using the centerwere equally concerned with their own status, butnot as secure authorities wielding power over longdistances.The media effects of Chavn seem de-signed to convince outsiders or cult initiates of theveracity of the belief system, and to reinforce theposition of the priests in Chavn as authorities inrelation to the belief system and its great powers.

    The third aspect of Chavn that I wish tofocus on partially answers this question about thenature of authority at the site. Confirming our ev-idence of the participants in processions, much ofthe imagery of Chavn art is clearly humanoid incharacter. While these figures may be describedas anthropomorphized creatures/deities, theircharacteristics argue more strongly for costumedand accessorized humans. Although some cen-tral figures on singular obelisks/columnssuchas the Lanzn, the Raimondi stela, the Telloobelisk, and perhaps the columns of the Black andWhite Portalare possibly deities, these figuresare easily matched in number by clear depictionsof humans, costumed or otherwise. The portray-al of humans with fierce animal characteristicsmight be a demonstration of the incorporation ofnatural powers into humans, or basically natural-izing the idea of the intrinsic difference betweenhumans of greater and lesser access to supernat-ural authority. The tenon heads of Chavn maylikewise be making an argument for the trans-formability of those in the cult, perhaps derivedfrom shamanism, as noted by Burger (1992a) andCordy-Collins (1976). The rituals envisioned forChavn in the form of processions or orchestrat-ed events in closed spaces would give a prominentand sometimes highly visible role to the high-ranking members of the cult. The evidence, as Iread it, emphasizes the role of artifice, if notdownright deception, in convincing initiates orothers about the validity of both the cult and theinnate supernatural connectedness of those or-chestrating ritual at Chavn. I doubt that thepriesthood at Chavn made direct claims of deitystatus, but they went to great efforts to create thesetting, actions, and appearances that would arguefor their intrinsic relationship to greater powersand their access to the alternate worlds in whichthey dwelt. I suspect that the attraction of Chavn


  • and the other great cult centers of this time foroutsiders was as much the possibility of gainingthis relationship and access, or at least the appear-ance of it, as it was the satisfaction of devotionalreligious motives.

    Thus the expansion of Chavns monument,the impressive array of phenomena employed atChavn in ritual activity, and the very creation ofthe elaborate architectural settings within the site(the galleries and cut-stone plazas) all make sensewithin this type of a system. That is to say, emerg-ing cult-connected authorities were seeking to es-tablish their position and power, albeit within thecontext of a religious cult. If incorporation of thematerial, behavior, and concepts of such a systemhelped confer the ability to make increasingly self-serving claims on the labor and resources of oth-ers, it would be consistent to dedicate some of thispotential income to gaining, and retaining, mem-bership in that system. From the Chavn side, theinvestment in the physical plant, materials, andrites would be worthwhile and self-serving if theygenerated income either by increasing the num-bers of paying initiates or by having initiates undercontinuing obligation to contribute to the centralsystem. Over time, the former would have becomeinefficient or ineffective, because increasing thenumber of initiates implies an increasing area ofsupport, eventually implying increased transportcosts and competition for followers with othermonumental centers. For competition to be effec-tive between the different centers and their ex-tended cults, they must be separable in their sym-bols and behaviors, but yet these must be mutuallyintelligible, sharing core commonalities thatshould be expressed in similarities of form andfunction in objects, actions, and architecture.Obviously, this describes well what we see in theInitial and Early Horizon Periods of the centralAndes (Kembel and Rick 2004).

    Maintaining long-term commitment fromthe initiates makes excellent sense. It not onlykeeps contributions coming in, but helps preventinitiates from becoming providers themselves.Thus, if the system of meanings upon which thecult operates incorporates the concept of pro-gressive advancement or other long-term ded-ication to the center, it assures longitudinal con-

    tributions. Oracular consultation would makegood sense for the same reason: there would becontinuing reasons for visiting the center, as-suming an ongoing need for predictive informa-tion. Again, the implications fit the known situ-ation: the center should have a complex of ritualsand perhaps facilities useful for the continued in-struction of inductees, and the inductees shouldhave a variety of signifiers of their continued andadvancing connection with the system. In thecase of Chavn, the multiplicity of gallery sys-tems may not only have had different ages andfunctions, but also may potentially have been aseries of locations for different rituals, perhapsperformed at different stages of advancementinto the cult.


    This scenario describes speculative steps in thedevelopment of the cult of Chavn; at the sametime it also describes steps toward the growth ofinequality and an increasing ability to build thecredibility of emerging authorities that wouldhave favored self-serving activity at the expenseof system-serving, to use the concepts ofFlannery (1972). In the discussion above there islittle that could be described as system-serving,and thus little reason why the local populationwould support these developments. Participationin events/rituals that reinforce associated beliefsand lead to devotional attachment, respect, orfear may have played a role in the formation of alocal support base for monuments like Chavn,especially at the outset. Ultimately, the creationof an accepting mindset is the outcome, in a pop-ulation not only accustomed to authority but ex-pecting it as part of their religious and politicalworld. A range of specific transitions, mecha-nisms, and justifications must have been involvedin such a long-term change away from an an-tecedent, presumably system-serving condition.One such system-serving role that has been wide-ly discussed for Chavn is shamanism. Psycho-active drug use and shamanistic transitions seemto be represented in art and paraphernalia atChavn and elsewhere (Burger 1992a; Cordy-Collins 1977; Sharon 2001). If classic shamanism


  • was at the root of Chavns development, it wouldimply that system-serving individuals were inter-acting with natural or other-world forces in gain-ing information about, and solving, diverse soci-etal problems. Chavn seen in this light would bea monument in which medical, social, or otherproblems were resolved, perhaps in front of thelocal population. The levels of effort in planning,construction, and decoration in the monumentalcenter; the range of themes found in the depic-tive art of Chavn; and the nature of the objectsthemselves as described above, all give little cre-dence to such a standard shamanistic pattern, butsome of the behavioral and material links seemstrong. This seems to be a candidate for what hasbeen termed a perversion in cultural evolution(Flannery 1972), in which an existing aspect of anearly system, long-accepted, is altered by a latersystem, usually toward increasingly self-servingends. The widespread concept of a shamans accessto supernatural power, in part through identitytransformation and other-world contact, could bealtered into an argument of intrinsic identity withsuch power. The existence of the greater power,generally seen in natural elements or organisms,seems broadly held; what is required for the tran-sition toward increasing power in specific indi-viduals are linking arguments that would ideallytake advantage of credible, already existing con-nections. In this sense shamanism is a naturalplatform for these arguments; but it is the manip-ulation of its concepts that might have helpedbuild authority in Chavn. The argument of nat-ural power invested in humans, and the relative-ly restricted access to the locales, actions, and ma-terials through which this power was gained (andprobably conferred) seem to characterize Chavnitself. As I have argued above, the arrival at, andprocession into, the monument center in a high-ly visible, perhaps costumed form, carrying andplaying objects of supernatural connection, andperhaps transitioning through a series of increas-ingly restricted architectural levels seems to beforemost in Chavn ritual portrayal. I suggest thatthis vision is coherent with fundamental conceptsof power, transformation, and transition found inshamanism, but represents an evolved version

    that takes advantage of and extends the credibil-ities of this traditional system.

    The purpose behind the development ofChavnthe energy expended in its construction,the expertise developed in order to plan and co-ordinate this long-term, coherent project, and thenature of both architecture and iconsseems tohave been to create an imposing, competitive, un-deniable, and naturalized world that would givecredibility to the power of an emerging authori-ty structure. Can the concepts that surround thecorresponding evolving beliefs be called reli-gious? If religion is the means by which peoplecommunicate, act out, and reproduce fundamen-tal beliefs about the way the human-centeredworld should work, then probably the activities atChavn can be seen as religious. The specifics ofhow these beliefs evolved need further explo-ration. Yet, at this stage in this evolution, the usu-ally conservative, behavior-reproducing force ofreligion is apparently less important than the po-tential for religion to alter such beliefs. In otherwords, religion has adopted a radical position astransformer of the way things have been. Thissense of political transformation can be balancedagainst the strong evidence we have found forcontinuity in the principles of organization andconstruction over many hundreds of years. Siteslike Chavn, with their design to play a lead rolein this transition, carry the seeds of understand-ing how and why humans chose to build a newedifice of sociopolitical relations.


    The long duration of our fieldwork in Peru hascreated too many debts to easily recognize here,but I would like to thank particularly my Stanforddoctoral colleagues Daniel Contreras, SilviaKembel, Christian Mesia, and John Wolf for alltheir patience and help; Bill Conklin for the de-termination to see this work through to publica-tion, and Peruvian colleagues and the NationalInstitute of Culture for their generosity and will-ingness to permit a foreigner to conduct researchat such a recognized site and national treasure asChavn de Huntar.