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Historical ecology in the Lambayeque valley, northern Peru: subsistence, mobility and resilience from the formative to the late period

Grant number: 16/15583-0
Support Opportunities:Regular Research Grants
Duration: December 01, 2016 - November 30, 2018
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Ecology
Principal Investigator:Rui Sérgio Sereni Murrieta
Grantee:Rui Sérgio Sereni Murrieta
Host Institution: Instituto de Biociências (IB). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil
Associated researchers:André Menezes Strauss ; Marcia Maria Arcuri Suñer ; Rodrigo Elias de Oliveira ; Walter Alves Neves


The cultural region of the central Andes is defined by the territorial extension of control and influence of the ancient Inca empire: to the south, the Atacama Desert - in northwestern Argentina and northern Chile -, through Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador, and ending the north, in the extreme south of Colombia. In the east-west axis, four great ecogeographic areas - coast, sierra, mountain and high jungle - seem, in general, converge on geographical, historical and ecological characteristics that influenced the forms of occupation in the territory by the Andean societies. Although the geographical and environmental features of the Andes are mentioned by all the great researchers as necessary to understand the socio-ecological relations in the region, the historical evolution of these interactions has always been problematic. The first limiting factor is the fact that much of the information available in the historiography of the pre-Columbian period is legacy of oral tradition or observations recorded by the colonial chronicles of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The European colonial bias created by these early testimonies profoundly influenced the way of seeing the Andean societies. It was only at the turn of the twentieth and nineteenth century, archeology began to add data otherwise. Due to the huge amount of ceramic material, the created chronologies were highly dependent on technical ceramic seriation, stylistic and iconography association analysis. The studies focused exclusively on ceramic sets and architectural monuments were held in check when, especially since the 1980's, the intensification of archaeological research has expanded the range of approaches and theoretical frameworks available. This movement arose from criticism of historical culturalist side, mainly responsible for the construction of narratives guided for almost exclusively decontextualized data.Archaeological researches focusing on the development period of regional states on the northern coast of Peru have shown some characteristics that bring new challenges to scientific research and, may lead to a thorough review of understanding the historical and social processes in the Andean region. In the last thirty years, the findings of greater variability among the "ceramic styles" from the valleys that integrate the northern portions of the Moche region - when compared to artifactual sets from its southern portion - has led experts to question the ancient archaeological narrative proposed by Larco Hoyle about the moche expansion to the north, in the Lambayeque valley, whose main expressions would be in the hands of elites Sipán and Pampa Grande. In line with the trends of the Andean archeology, in general, studies of the northern coast of Peru are seeking the expansion of a database that allows to infer process of complexity emergence in their political, socio-cultural and ecological dimensions, which in turn characterized the occupation of this territory. In this panorama of research, it is important that the region of Lambayeque concentrates exceptional contexts for archaeological research, with abundant presence of sites that have been identified long stratigraphic sequences. In turn, these have shown the great biodiversity in this region that may thus contribute to the unprecedentedly scientific debate about the Historical Ecology and Archaeology of the North Coast Peruvian. Given the historical scenarios, it is clear that research on the diet and the prehispanic subsistence in Lambayque Valley should be geared to obtaining data that allows primarily identify the composition, origin and location of food. Added to this, it is pressing the increase in absolute datings in order to refine the local cultural chronology and its association with changes on obtainment in local and regional resources. (AU)

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