Disaster in the development of agriculture and the evolution of social complexity in the South-Central Andes

                         Williams, Patrick Ryan; PhD

                         UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA, 1997

                         Major changes in both social systems and agrarian technology in the Andes are predicated on
                         disaster-induced restructuring events. These catastrophic events result from the impact of natural and
                         cultural hazards of a significant magnitude on vulnerable populations. Such crises force people to
                         re-evaluate the economic foundations of their subsistence base and to reconsider the way in which they
                         interpret the world. As such, they act as catalysts of major change in the ways societies provide for their
                         needs and express their interpretation of meaning in material form. The research area for evaluating the
                         hypothesis of a disaster-induced evolutionary sequence is the Moquegua Valley of Southern Peru.
                         Located at 17 degrees South latitude and 71 degrees West longitude, the Moquegua drainage resides
                         in the arid South-Central Andean sierra. Agriculture is the source of life, and it can only thrive through the
                         use of irrigation technology. Events which threaten the stability of that economic base threaten the
                         survival of the populations that inhabit the Moquegua sierra. Over the past 1500 years, catastrophic
                         events have resulted in major transformations in cultural influence and agrarian technology between the
                         several eras of Moquegua Prehistory. These eras include the Tiwanaku Omo Phase (500-650 A. D.),
                         Imperial Wari (650-750 A. D.), Tiwanaku Chen Chen (750-950 A. D.), Tumilaca (950-1100 A. D.),
                         Chiribaya (1100-1250 A. D.), Estuquina (1250-1450 A. D.), Inka (1450-1532 A. D.), and Colonial
                         (1532-1821 A. D.). These phases are named after cultural groups within the valley, but do not
                         necessarily represent the longevity of a particular culture. Rather, they represent time periods in which a
                         particular cultural group exerted more profound influence on economic organization and ideological
                         interpretation over a majority of the valley. Implicated in the changes which occur between these phases
                         are natural hazards such as drought, El Nino coastal flooding, and tectonic activity and social hazards
                         such as internal conflict and imperial conquest. Both technological and social vulnerability to these
                         hazards were major contributors to the transformations in agrarian land use and cultural influence which
                         constitute these different epochs. The dynamic Andean social and natural environment has played a
                         pivotal role in the development of agriculture and the evolution of society.


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