This project aims to more fully document the process of political centralisation (ca. AD 1-200) in the case study regions, and postulates that four main factors were crucial: intensified resource control; warrior leadership; rival factions; ancestralisation of leaders.

Data to test these factors will be acquired through a 4-year plan of fieldwork and analysis, including:

  • Regional Settlement Survey. Social complexity models have tended to focus on single valleys. We examine adjacent valleys to widen the frame of analysis to observe larger scale systemic change. Each basin is dominated by an impressive hilltop centre, Cerro San Isidro (Moro) & Pashash (Cabana), which overlooks valuable lands and features commoner and elite dwellings, fortifications and mausolea. Surrounding them are many other settlements and features (hamlets, fields, roads, canals). Detailed survey will help determine their dating, activities and functional relationships to the centres.

  • Excavations at Cerro San Isidro & Pashash. Both sites show excellent archaeological preservation; because new residential and mortuary buildings appear in both areas almost simultaneously, our project can clarify their co-development. Lordships should show evidence of segmentary organisation, ancestor veneration and wealth differences. We aim to study these patterns in large compounds, which we think may be the ‘palatial’ spaces of kin groups at the seats of power. Burials and mausolea inside them may indicate ‘living with the dead,’ ritual practices that helped legitimise increasingly powerful noble groups. Post excavation analyses (organic & non-organic remains) should show variability in diet, wealth accumulation and trade items.

We plan to work with local museums, universities and municipalities to help promote tourism, site protection and heritage outreach in the case study areas in question. The project will also create opportunities for students and researchers to build academic and public links between the UK, North America and Peru.