|Archaeology Findings Suggest War Sparks Civilization|
|Living - The Dialogue|
|TS-Si News Service|
|Thursday, 28 July 2011 08:00|
Los Angeles, CA, USA. A new study is part of a large, worldwide comparative research effort to define the factors that gave rise to the first societies that developed public buildings, widespread religions and regional political systems — or basically characteristics associated with ancient states or what is colloquially known as civilization.
War, regional trade and specialized labor are the three factors that keep coming up as predecessors to civilization.
Charles Stanish, director of the UCLA Cotsen Institute of Archaeology, and Abigail Levine, a UCLA graduate student in anthropology, used archaeological evidence from the Titicaca basin of southern Peru.
The area was home to a number of thriving and complex early societies during the first millennium B.C.
Stanish, who is also a professor of anthropology at UCLA, and Levine traced the evolution of two larger, dominant states in the region: Taraco, along the Ramis River, and Pukara, in the grassland pampas.
The findings from the initial stage of the larger investigation appear in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
War appears to have played a similar civilizing role in Mesoamerica, as well as Mesopotamia, Stanish said. To further test his theories on the origins of civilization, Stanish will begin a new project next year at a Neolithic site in Armenia.Warfare, triggered by political conflict between the fifth century B.C. and the first century A.D., likely shaped the development of the first settlement that would classify as a civilization in the Titicaca basin of southern Peru.
Conducted between 2004 and 2006, the authors' excavations in Taraco unearthed signs of a massive fire that raged sometime during the first century A.D., reducing much of the state to ash and architectural rubble. The authors compared artifacts dating from before and after the fire and concluded that agriculture, pottery and the obsidian industry, all of which had flourished in the state, greatly declined after the fire.
Based on the range and extent of the destruction and the lack of evidence supporting reconstruction efforts, the authors suggest that the fire was a result of war, not of an accident or a ritual.
Iconographic evidence of conflict in regional stone-work, textiles and pottery suggests that the destruction of Taraco had been preceded by several centuries of raids. This includes depictions of trophy heads and people dressed in feline pelts cutting off heads, among other evidence.
Because the downfall of Taraco, which was home to roughly 5,000 people, coincided with the rise of neighboring Pukara as a dominant political force in the region, the authors suggest that warfare between the states may have led to the raids, shaping the early political landscape of the northern Titicaca basin.
Inhabited between 500 B.C. and 200 A.D., Pukara was the first regional population center in the Andes highlands. During its peak, it covered more than 2 square kilometer and housed approximately 10,000 residents, including bureaucrats, priests, artisans, farmers, herders and possibly warriors.
The civilization's ruins include impressive monolithic sculptures with a variety of geometric, zoomorphic and anthropomorphic images, plus intricate, multi-colored pottery in a variety of ritual and domestic forms.
CitationInaugural Article: War and early state formation in the northern Titicaca Basin, Peru. Charles Stanish and Abigail Levine. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 2011; ePub ahead of print. doi:10.1073/pnas.1110176108
Excavations at the site of Taraco in the northern Titicaca Basin of southern Peru indicate a 2,600-y sequence of human occupation beginning ca. 1100 B.C.E. Previous research has identified several political centers in the region in the latter part of the first millennium B.C.E. The two largest centers were Taraco, located near the northern lake edge, and Pukara, located 50 km to the northwest in the grassland pampas. Our data reveal that a high-status residential section of Taraco was burned in the first century A.D., after which economic activity in the area dramatically declined. Coincident with this massive fire at Taraco, Pukara adopted many of the characteristics of state societies and emerged as an expanding regional polity. We conclude that organized conflict, beginning approximately 500 B.C.E., is a significant factor in the evolution of the archaic state in the northern Titicaca Basin.
Keywords: archaeology, evolution of cooperation, pukara, taraco.
|Last Updated on Wednesday, 27 July 2011 21:08|