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Article

Izumi Shimada and Trent Barnes

Pre-Columbian site in northern Peru. It covers an extensive pediment c. 55 km inland on the south bank of the Lambayeque Valley, one of the largest and most fertile river valleys of the Peruvian north coast. Pampa Grande flourished c. ad 600–700 as the last capital of the Moche culture. Its valley-neck location afforded both ready access to prime cultivation fields and control of the main intakes of all major regional canals. The site has a long prehistory of intermittent use starting with a Cupisnique (c. 1500–700 bc) cemetery and ending with Middle Sicán (c. ad 1000–1100), Chimú (c. 1375–1460), and Chimú–Inca (c. 1460–1532) occupations. The main occupation responsible for much of the 6 sq. km of dense architectural remains, however, is the final phase (5) of the Moche culture. In 1973 and 1975 the Royal Ontario Museum Peruvian Expedition under the direction of ...

Article

Paracas  

Helaine Silverman

Name given to a Pre-Columbian culture of the Central Andean area. The culture is named after the Paracas peninsula in Peru, 300 km south of Lima, the location of an important Pre-Columbian site discovered by Julio C. Tello and S. K. Lothrop in 1925 (see also South America, Pre-Columbian). By 1927 three distinct cemetery areas on the peninsula, known as Cabeza Larga, Cavernas and Necropolis, had been located and excavated. Each contained mummy bundles or ‘fardels’ wrapped in exceptionally fine multicoloured embroidered cloths (see fig.). The Necropolis area contained more than 400 conical bundles. Some were noticeably richer than others and were composed of up to several hundred textiles, arranged in layers of plain cloths and decorated mantles, shirts, loin cloths, ponchos, skirts, turbans and belts. Together, the three Paracas peninsula burial areas yielded thousands of iconographically complex, technically excellent textiles, now in museums throughout the world. The Paracas textiles varied in style over the time during which the burial grounds were used. The earliest (...

Article

Phil C. Weigand and Trent Barnes

[Las Ventanas]

Pre-Columbian site just south of the modern town of Juchipila in Zacatecas, Mexico. The first archaeological survey of the site was conducted by Aleš Hrdlička in 1904, and it was subsequently described by Phil C. Weigand in 1985. The Peñol de Juchipila, also called Las Ventanas, was the palace of the Caxcan king, Xiuhtecuhtli, at the time of the great rebellion against the Spanish, called the Mixtón War, in 1541–2. The Peñol is one of the most heavily fortified ancient sites in Mesoamerica; access to its upper citadel is more restricted than at comparable structures at Xochicalco and La Quemada. Set upon sheer cliffs, it is protected by revetments of monumental proportions, the only access being a steep, switchback stairway just wide enough to allow one person at a time to pass. At the lower, north-eastern edge of the citadel is a walled-in rock shelter, which has given the ruin its Spanish name, Las Ventanas. Beneath the citadel is a habitation zone, covering more than 25 ha and comprising residential terraces, occupation debris, and some cemetery remains. Evidence of hydraulic features and other sites in the valley suggest some kind of settlement hierarchy....

Article

Jorge G. Marcos and Trent Barnes

Pre-Columbian site directly west of Cerro de la Calentura, across the river from the northern suburbs of Greater Guayaquil, Ecuador. It not only represents a centre of cultural development in the Lower Guayas Basin, but clearly shows that the development of long-distance trade went along with the development of intensive agriculture. The ancient habitation site is surrounded by raised or ridged fields, which began to be built by people of the late Valdivia culture from c. 2000 bc. The finding of Valdivia Phase 8 ceramics and figurines at the base of the site’s stratigraphy helped to validate a radiocarbon date of c. 4000 bp obtained in 1987 from one of the ridged fields west of the site.

Excavations at Peñón del Río have enabled archaeologists to understand the need of the early farmers of the Lower Guayas Basin to build massive earthworks for agriculture and habitation. The ridged field system was built in a region where approximately 60,000 ha of land remained under water for at least half of the year. During the dry season, the partly exposed ground turned into black mud until the last months before the monsoon rains, when the sun baked it to a hard cracked surface. A solution to this lay in the construction of raised fields, built by digging channels and packing the excavated mud into platforms alongside. This created an artificial river system, allowing farmers to practise the kind of agriculture characteristic of the Upper Guayas Basin. Such primitive earth-moving activity by late Valdivian farmers marked the beginning of intensive agriculture on previously unproductive land. The success of the system is evident from further, more complex developments made by succeeding, more politically sophisticated cultures. During the late Valdivia and Machalilla occupations of the site (...

Article

Elizabeth P. Benson

Site of Pre-Columbian Maya culture on the Usumacinta River, El Petén, Guatemala. It flourished during the Classic period (c. ad 250–c. 900) and is famous for its painted stone sculpture (Guatemala City, Mus. N. Arqueol. & Etnol.). The site was investigated by Teobert Maler in 1895 and by archaeologists from the University of Pennsylvania between 1930 and 1939. Tatiana Proskouriakoff made reconstruction drawings of the architecture in the 1950s and studied the various stelae. Limestone stelae, circular altars with carved legs, lintels and ‘thrones’ were carved in a combination of high and low relief, in a fluid, expressive and elegantly detailed style, in contrast to more angular, less detailed sculptures in the central Petén region. Early examples were painted red, but later pieces were polychrome. Motifs from Teotihuacán, in the Mesoamerican Central Highlands, were sometimes used.

While at most Maya sites of the Late Classic period (...

Article

America’s interest in Pre-Columbian culture began to take tangible form in the 19th century. American explorer John Lloyd Stephens (1805–52) and artist Frederick Catherwood journeyed to Chiapas and the Yucatán peninsula in 1839 to describe and document Mayan ruins. Their research was published in 1841 as Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas and the Yucatan. An expanded two-volume version, Incidents of Travel in the Yucatan, was published in 1843 and contained over 120 woodcut illustrations, and provided the first pictorial views of ancient Mesoamerica.

The ancient sites of Mitla, Palenque, Izamal, Chichén Itzá and Uxmal were first photographed by French photographer and explorer (Claude-Joseph-)Désiré Charnay between 1858 and 1860. The resulting images were collected into a book published in 1863 entitled Cités et ruines américaines, which later included an essay by the influential French architect and theorist Eugène-Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc. Charnay made a second trip to the region from ...

Article

John S. Isaacson and Trent Barnes

[Pucará ; de Lulumbamba]

Military installation (and possibly ceremonial centre) of the Pre-Columbian Inca period in Pinchincha Province, Ecuador. It is sited on a small hill at the confluence of two streams draining into the Río Guayllabamba, a few kilometres to the north. Although the site was severely damaged through centuries of looting for building materials, careful excavation and reconstruction (Almeida and Jara) have provided significant information about the architecture and occupational history at the site. There has been speculation that the site was constructed prior to the arrival of the Inca in northern Ecuador. However, excavation produced no evidence of pre-Inca occupation. All artefacts in the local ‘Caranqui’ style were found in contexts that also produced Inca artefacts, suggesting that the Pucará de Rumicucho was constructed and occupied during the Late Horizon (1476–1534), between c. ad 1500 and c. 1534 (see Inca). The Pucará de Rumicucho differs in significant ways from most forts in the highlands of the northern Andes. These were generally built on an easily defensible site, usually a hilltop, and were often equipped with retaining walls and rooms to house military personnel. The excavation of these sites has produced few artefacts other than ceramic fragments and rare finds of weapons. The Pucará de Rumicucho’s accessible location, only 24 m above the valley floor, and evidence for the occurrence of a wide variety of activities suggest that it was not a defensive fort. The site has been interpreted as an offensive staging area for military campaigns to the north (Almeida and Jara). Its situation close to the equator and the presence of circular structures—associated at other Inca sites with religious and astronomical activities—suggest that it may also have functioned as a ceremonial and astronomical centre....

Article

Robert J. Sharer

Site of Pre-Columbian Maya Southern Lowland city on the Motagua River flood plain in Guatemala, 100 km from the Caribbean. Quiriguá flourished in the Classic period (c. ad 250–c. 900) and is famous for its sculpted monuments, the largest and among the most beautiful produced by the ancient Maya. Photographs and drawings were published by A. P. Maudslay from 1889 to 1902, and the site has been the subject of several excavations, most recently by the University of Pennsylvania (1974–9).

Ancient Quiriguá covered c. 4 sq. km, but only the largest structures and carved stone monuments rise above 1–2 m of recent alluvium. Most are concentrated at the site core, covering c. 500 sq. m. The sandstone and rhyolite monuments include upright stelae, flat altars and zoomorphic sculptured boulders. Most combine historical texts with portraits of Quiriguá’s rulers being presented with symbols of authority to reinforce their earthly and supernatural power. The monuments were erected in the Great Plaza (300 × 150 m). A massive buried platform in the northern third supports Monuments 1–7 (5 stelae and 2 zoomorphs), all dedicated during the final 24 years of the reign of Quiriguá’s greatest ruler, ...

Article

Peter W. Stahl

Pre-Columbian ceremonial site in the Chanduy Valley, Ecuador, that flourished c. 3500–1600 bc. It occupies a low ridge adjacent to the Río Verde drainage, c. 3 km inland from the Pacific coast; it covers an area of c. 12.4 ha, and it is dominated by two parallel ridges of accumulated midden deposits, oriented north–south and encompassing a low central plaza. This early appearance of ceremonial architecture, with its related settlement and subsistence features, has raised a number of important issues concerning the nature and complexity of this period in Pre-Columbian Ecuador. The site was discovered by Jorge G. Marcos in 1971 and excavated 1974–5 by the University of Illinois Real Alto Project, and subsequently by the Escuela Superior Politécnica del Litoral, Guayaquil.

Towards the centre of the ridges two low mounds supporting ceremonial structures and quantities of refuse oppose each other. These mounds extend out into the plaza, dividing it into inner and outer precincts. The ...

Article

Recuay  

George Bankes

Pre-Columbian culture and art style of northern Peru, named after the modern town of Recuay in the upper Santa Valley of the north Peruvian highlands. The culture flourished c. 200 bcc. ad 500 in the upper valley of the Santa River, with its influence extending to the lower part. Recuay art is represented mainly by pottery and stone-carving. In his study of Recuay art at Pashash (1978), Grieder found that considerable unity within the style made it difficult to identify the work of individual artists. The pottery, generally made of a white paste, is highly distinctive. The main shapes are bowls (some with a ring base), dippers, spoons, jars of various forms, bottles with modelled heads joined by a bridge handle to a spout, stirrup-spout bottles and vessels in the form of modelled figures. Such figures are often on the upper part of the vessels and can represent single animals or human beings, or group of figures in scenes. The animals and birds most frequently shown are the jaguar, armadillo, condor, heron and owl. Human trophy heads also appear on vessels, singly or with a warrior. Some vessels are in the form of houses, while others resemble pyramids. Designs on the pottery were painted in two or three colours—black, white and red—using both positive and negative techniques. Three-colour negative designs were probably produced by applying a red pigment to areas that had already been treated by smoking. The principal diagnostic motifs are a two-headed serpent and a feline shape or ‘dragon’ with bared teeth. Stone ...

Article

Hasso Von Winning

revised by Rex Koontz

Both a ceramic style and a section of the Gulf Coastal plain in the southern part of Veracruz state, Mexico. The style is characterized chiefly by “smiling face” ceramic figures, although there are several other ceramic forms that may be associated directly with the home region, which is the Cotaxtla river basin and environs in south-central Veracruz state. It should be noted that while there are many examples of the ceramic style found in the Cotaxtla basin, Remojadas-style ceramics are also found in adjacent regions, causing some confusion. The style is distinct from figure types from sites such as Nopiloa, Los Cerros, and Tenenespa in the Papaloapan region, south of Las Remojadas, but the term Remojadas is still often applied, incorrectly, to the ceramics of the central-southern Gulf Coast in general. Although other artworks were produced in the Remojodas tradition, since the ceramic style has certain well-defined features and is a useful index, this article focuses mainly on the ceramics....

Article

George E. Stuart

Site of Pre-Columbian Maya culture in the north-east of the tropical rain-forest of Petén, Guatemala. It was discovered in 1962 by oil prospectors, and Richard E. W. Adams and John Gatling carried out preliminary excavations and mapping on behalf of Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, and the Instituto de Antropología e Historia de Guatemala in the same year. Pottery samples from the first test pits indicated that the site was occupied from the Late Pre-Classic period (c. 300 bcc. ad 250) to the end of the Classic period (c. ad 900). Its standing stone buildings, some of which were well preserved, resembled those at Tikal, a much larger Maya site 75 km to the south-west. In 1981 Ian Graham of Harvard University discovered that many of the large pyramids at Río Azul had been cut into and looted; because of this, Adams returned to the site in ...

Article

Paul Gendrop

Name applied variously to an area in the lowlands of Campeche, Mexico, a Pre-Columbian Maya site and a Maya architectural style of the Late Classic period (c. ad 600–c. 900). Count Maurice de Périgny explored the region in 1906–7 and discovered several groups of palaces, temples and platforms. Building I of Group B typifies the style. It comprises a low palace-like building with large interior spaces with integrated benches and a main façade flanked at each end by a solid tower with rounded corners. The towers are simulated, slightly squat versions of Maya pyramids crowned by temples, each with a stairway framed by alfardas (flat ramps), simulated sanctuary entrance and roof-comb.

The Río Bec style flourished between c. ad 600 and 800 in the northern Maya lowlands just north of the Greater Petén region. Stylistic traits include the aforementioned tower complexes, vertical chequerboard (damero) panels, panels with cross patterns derived from ...

Article

Olivier de Montmollin

Valley forming part of the Upper Grijalva tributaries region on the south-western edge of the Lowland Maya area in Chiapas, Mexico. It was the site of several Pre-Columbian settlements noted for their Classic period (c. ad 250–c. 900) art. The nearest large Maya centres are Chinkultic in the Comitán Highlands and Yaxchilán, Bonampak and Piedras Negras in the Lacandón jungle, running eastward to the Usumacinta River. Ceramics predating the Classic period suggest that the upper tributaries were originally inhabited by speakers of the non-Maya Zoque language. However, the ceramics and iconography of the Classic period suggest that by this date the area was inhabited by speakers of Maya and that close links had been established with the Lowland Maya area. Between the collapse of the Classic Lowland Maya culture (c. ad 800–c. 950) and the Spanish Conquest (ad 1521), close links existed with the Highland Maya cultures of Guatemala....

Article

Ann Kendall and Trent Barnes

[Sacsayhuamán ; Sajsawaman ; Saqsaywaman]

Pre-Columbian Inca site in south-central Peru, 3555 m above sea-level on a hill north-east of and overlooking the Inca capital of Cuzco. It was built during the reign of Tupac Inca Yupanqui (reg 1471–93), who planned it as a northward extension of the Hanan (upper) sector of Cuzco. From 1536 the site was used as a quarry for new buildings, including Cuzco Cathedral. From 1933 it was excavated and studied by Luis Valcárcel and Luis Pardo, and restoration work and continuing investigations were carried out by Peruvian government and related institutions. The site has been variously interpreted as a fortress, an army storehouse, a sun temple, or a palace of the Inca. It probably served all these functions. Massive terraces, elaborate and sometimes unique structures, and fine masonry construction in several contemporaneous styles underlined its importance as the figurative ‘head’ of Cuzco (the plan of which seems to comprise the profile of a puma) and seat of Inca power. Thirty thousand workers were reputedly employed in the construction. The main sectors include the principal doorway (known as Tiapunku) at the extreme south-east point of the site, the Fort, the esplanade (known as Chuquipampa), and the rock outcrop (Suchuna)....

Article

Robert J. Sharer

Intermontaine basin immediately north of Motagua Valley in the northern Maya Highland area of Guatemala, covering an area of c. 74 sq. km and with an average elevation of c. 1000 m. The region was investigated in 1972–4 by Robert J. Sharer and David W. Sedat for the Verapaz Project of the University Museum, University of Pennsylvania. Twenty-four Pre-Columbian sites were located within the valley, 21 of which were sampled by surface surveys and 9 by excavations. The data from this work indicate that the sedentary occupation of the valley dates to between c. 1200 bc and the Spanish Conquest in the 1520s.

The first peak of local socio-political development began in the Middle Pre-Classic period (c. 1000–c. 300 bc) and culminated in the Late Pre-Classic period (c. 300 bcc. ad 250). A second, more rapid developmental cycle peaked during the Late Classic period (...

Article

Salango  

Richard Lunniss

Pre-Columbian site in Manabí Province on the central coast of Ecuador, centred at the southern end of a sandy bay, sheltered by a headland and Salango Island. It had several phases of occupation, paralleled on nearby La Plata Island.

An early Valdivia culture settlement, indicated by ceramics, stone artefacts and animal remains and dated by radiocarbon analysis to the 4th or late 3rd millennium bc, lay between the beach and a lagoon. Extending over the area of the lagoon was a Machalilla-phase midden containing a high density of fish bone and shell, and many mother-of-pearl fish-hooks. Thirty-eight individuals were found in graves cut through the midden, for which radiocarbon analysis has given dates in the second half of the 2nd millennium bc. Attributes of the Chorrera culture and Engoroy style are found in ceramics associated with a rectangular wooden structure built over a clay floor capping part of the Machalilla midden. The formal design of its construction and the more elaborate nature of the associated burials and depositions of artefacts suggest a ritual or ceremonial purpose. The dismantling of this building was immediately followed by the construction of the first of several low rectangular platforms surmounted by wooden structures. Later mounds were surrounded by clay-filled trenches supporting posts. Pottery of the Engoroy type, dated by radiocarbon analysis to the first half of the 1st millennium ...

Article

Salinar  

George Bankes

Pre-Columbian culture and art style that flourished in northern Peru c. 500–c. 300 bc, during the Early Horizon and the beginning of the Early Intermediate period. Salinar culture was more localized than the contemporary Chavín culture; Salinar artefacts, especially pottery, were first discovered in 1941 at a cemetery in the upper Chicama Valley by the Peruvian archaeologist Rafael Larco Hoyle. The tombs were outside the modern cultivated area, stratified below Moche burials and intrusive on some Cupisnique interments. This chronological evidence, together with iconographic evidence, placed Salinar after the Cupisnique style of the Early Horizon and before the Moche culture of the Early Intermediate period. Fieldwork by the Virú Valley Project in the 1940s showed a definite Salinar occupation of the Virú Valley. Between 1969 and 1974 Salinar burials and occupation sites were also found in the Moche Valley by the Chan Chan–Moche Valley Project directed by Christopher Donnan. In Salinar decorative art there is no evidence of the feline themes dominant in Cupisnique art; however, five bone spatulas with incised designs similar to those carved on Cupisnique examples were found by Larco (Lima, Mus. Arqueol. Larco Herrara), but neither were they well-made nor was the motif a particularly close imitation of Cupisnique design. Salinar ...

Article

Warwick Bray and Trent Barnes

Pre-Columbian culture of the Northern Andean region that flourished between c. 800 bc and c. ad 1630. It is named after the small town of San Agustín in the department of Huila, southern Colombia. It is classed archaeologically as a culture of the Intermediate area (see South America, Pre-Columbian, §II). The region where San Agustín culture developed covers several hundred square kilometres and contains approximately 40 Pre-Columbian archaeological sites, each with its own history. The more important of these include Alto de Lavapatas, Alto de Lavaderos, Alto de los Idolos, Las Mesitas, Isnos, El Vegón, and Quinchana. The entire landscape shows evidence of human habitation: ancient trackways and field systems, house terraces, carved boulders, cist graves, shaft tombs, and a series of mounds covering stone-built chambers containing carved statues. These monuments were first described by Juan de Santa Gertrudis in 1758 and have been studied sporadically ever since....

Article

Carolyn Tate

Early Formative site-complex in Mexico, thought to be the earliest capital of Gulf Coast Olmec culture. San Lorenzo occupies a 1700-acre hill surrounded by branches of the ancient courses of the Coatzocoalcos River in the State of Veracruz. Around 1500 BCE people settled along the rivers, but within 300 years San Lorenzo dominated the settlements around it, until 850 BCE. The elites, who controlled the best fishing and farming lands and the collection and distribution of materials, including stone for monuments, lived on the desirable hilltop. Through coercion or cooperation, they enlisted the work of laborers, who helped them create the first array of monumental stone sculptures (134 have been found) in North America. This collection of monumental art is unusual for the skill of its carving, the innovation of many subjects and themes that would become fundamental to Mesoamerican ideologies, for its probable role in facilitating narrative performances, and because of the mutilation that was eventually inflicted upon it....