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Food, Trade, and Ritual: Human-Animal Interactions among the Moche of North Coastal Peru

Dr. Aleksa Alaica, Izaak Walton Killam Memorial Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Alberta
Friday, January 21, 2022
12:00-1:00 PM
Animals form the foundation of all societies as subsistence resources, hunting and herding companions, and as symbols for ritual activities. In the Andes, sea lions, camelids, condors, guinea pigs, dogs and many other species were part of daily activities but also supernatural characters in creation stories and as zoomorphic figures involved in sacrificial practices. The Moche (CE 200-900) have been argued to be a cultural flourishment that witnessed the rise of stark social inequalities and the reformulation of Andean ritual rites. While famed for its large temple constructions, metallurgical production, and human sacrificial practices, an understudied aspect of the Moche political economy is their use and depiction of different marine and terrestrial species as subsistence sources, social capital, and symbols. In this talk, I use iconographic, zooarchaeological, and isotopic data from the Late Moche (CE 600-900) site of Huaca Colorada to examine the role of wild and domestic animal species in differently facilitating the interaction between coastal communities and long-distance exchange with the highlands. Results do not support the unilateral control of Moche elites over local and hinterland communities but rather strong local continuity in the depiction of species and the butchery and sharing of their remains in large-scale feasts. I conclude that through an egalitarian ethos, Moche ceremonial activities formulated temporary communities of consolidation that brought together artisans, agropastoralists, and fisherfolk. These productive moments during a seasonal calendar transformed relationships between communities dwelling in distinct ecozones and enabled the reformulation of personhood for human and non-human animals.
Building: Off Campus Location
Location: Virtual
Event Link:
Event Type: Livestream / Virtual
Tags: Anthropology, Archaeology, Center For Latin American And Caribbean Studies
Source: Happening @ Michigan from Museum of Anthropological Archaeology, Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, Department of Anthropology