Ancestral Monuments and Human-Environment Relationships in the Chachapoya Region, Peru (900-1470 CE)

Project: Research project

Project Details


The proposed project examines how ancestral monuments mediated the relationship between people and the environment in the Chachapoya region, Peru, from approximately 900-1470 CE. Chachapoya communities built mausolea, sarcophagi, and towers above ground throughout a landscape of montane cloud forest at the margins of Andes and Amazon. These ancestral monuments are well-positioned to inform past humanenvironment interactions because of their spatially ubiquity and use for collective entombment over hundreds of years. Furthermore, for Indigenous Andeans ancestors are powerful social agents that can intercede in the lives of descendant communities and the nonhuman environment. This research poses three questions regarding landscape, ecology, and climate: Where were they constructed on the landscape? Spatial data collected through low-altitude aerial drone survey will examine the visibility and proximity of ancestral monuments in relation to the geoecological landscape. What ecological materials did communities use in their construction? Geochemical compositional analyses of mortar, plaster, and paint, and macrobotanical analysis of plant matter will assess the socioecological significance of building materials. What were the climate conditions at the time of ancestral monument construction? Dendrohydrology and radiocarbon dating of wood from monument beams will be used to evaluate precipitation patterns as a climate proxy with construction chronologies
Effective start/end date6/19/226/30/23


  • Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research (Agmt 04/13/2022)


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