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Middle Preceramic Public and Residential Sites on the Forested Slope of the Western Andes, Northern Peru

  • Tom. D. Dillehay (a1), Patricia J. Netherly (a2) and Jack Rossen (a1)

Abstract

A decade of intermittent archaeological research in the upper Zaña Valley in northern Peru has documented an intensive Middle Preceramic period (ca. 6000—4200 B.C.) occupation in the tropical-forest and thorn-forest ecotone on the western Andean slopes. This research has revealed one stratified nonresidential site (the Cementerio de Nanchoc), characterized by dual earth mounds, and a complex of small, preceramic residential sites in the Nanchoc branch of the valley. The nonresidential site is associated with the production of lime, probably used as a mineral supplement to the diet or as an extractive agent with coca leaves. Evidence recovered from residential sites shows that incipient horticulturists, documented by the presence of several species of cultigens, and unspecialized hunters and gathers lived in scattered households located along small streams in alluvial fans above the valley floor. A unifacial lithic technology and a diversified ground-stone technology attest to an economy primarily adapted to plant resources. The preceramic culture of the upper Zaña Valley is interpreted as a local manifestation of an early western-slope-forest cultural tradition associated with the development of a specialized public precinct and the adoption and intensification of agriculture.

Résumé

Durante la decada en que se han llevado a cabo investigaciones esporádicas en el alto Valle de Zaña, zona norte de Peru, se ha documentado evidencia de ocupacidn intensiva durante el periodo Preceramico Medio (ca. 6000—4200 A.C.) en las zonas de selva tropical y bosque de arbustos espinosos en las faldas occidentales de la Cordillera Andina. La investigación ha descubierto un sitio estratificado no-residencial (el Cementerio de Nanchoc), caracterizado por dos montículos de tierra, y un complejo de pequeños sitios de residencia preceramicos situados en la quebrada de Nanchoc, que forma parte del valle de Zaña. El sitio no-residencial esta asociado con la producción de cal, lo cual probablemente fue utilizada como suplemento mineral en la dieta, o como un agente extractivo durante el consumo de hojas de coca. La evidencia recuperada en los sitios de residencia indica que los horticultores, quienesfueron identificados gracias a la presencia de varias especies de cultigenos, y los cazadoresrecolectores no especializados vivian en unidades domesticas (households) dispersas situadas a lo largo depequeños cursos de agua en los conos aluvionales localizados a más altura que elfondo de valle. La tecnología lítica unifacial, asi tambien como la tecnología diversificada de piedra pulida, evidencian una economia adaptada fundamentalmente a la explotación de plantas. Se interpreta la cultura preceramica del alto valle de Zaña como una manifestacibón local de una tradicion temprana de las faldas occidentales, asociada con el desarrollo de un recinto público especializado y con la adopción e intensificación de agricultura.

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Middle Preceramic Public and Residential Sites on the Forested Slope of the Western Andes, Northern Peru

  • Tom. D. Dillehay (a1), Patricia J. Netherly (a2) and Jack Rossen (a1)

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