Archaeological evidence suggests that a cosmological framework of coastal-highland opposition and gender complementarity, documented at the time of the conquest, began to structure Moche political relations in the Jequetepeque Valley of Northern Peru during the Middle Horizon Period (AD 650-850), an era famed for the ascendancy of the cult of the priestess at San José de Moro. Archaeologically detected transformations in feasting ritual, gender symbolism, sacrifice, warfare, and long-distance exchange relations lend support to this argument. Moreover, excavations at rural settlements and at the ceremonial center of Huaca Colorada reveal significant changes in both everyday temporal rhythms and the timing of major ritual events. Ultimately, archaeological data from Huaca Colorada and other settlements in the region suggest that the consolidation of the priestess cult at San José de Moro led to notable shifts in gendered constructions of landscape, time, cosmology, and alterity in Moche Jequetepeque.
Edward Swenson is an Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Toronto. He is currently conducting archaeological field work at the Moche centre of Huaca Colorada in Northern Peru. Swenson’s theoretical interests include the pre-industrial city, violence and subject formation, the archaeology of ritual, and the politics of landscape and social memory.
Edward Swenson, Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of Toronto
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