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Hearths, Grinding Stones, and Households:

Rethinking Domestic Economy in the Andes
Robin Coleman Goldstein
Northwestern University

This case study of Andean house remains in central Peru adopts a gendered perspective and, on the basis of archae-
ological evidence, challenges the normalized domestic model of “lo Andino.” Although most Andean archaeological
studies equate economically independent households with independent structures, this analysis reexamines the ac-
curacy of this convention. The presence of a grinding stone, an essential tool of an economically independent unit,
varies among house structures, which suggests that multiple houses shared labor on a daily basis.
Keywords: Andes, household, household archaeology, domestic economy, grinding stones

E thnohistoric records from the Spanish Conquest, as well

as ethnographic research on traditional Andean life-
and its organization from the production-associated agrar-
ian “male” component to the multifaceted site of the house
ways, have generated the concept of “lo Andino,” which and, in doing so, redefines the social dynamics of household
has often guided archaeological interpretations of the pre- production.
historic Andes (Van Buren 1996). Part of this concept re- By starting from the archaeological record and the ar-
lies on an agrarian model that characterizes the coresiden- tifacts of daily living, we can develop a more accurate un-
tial household as the “basic economic unit” on the basis of derstanding of everyday life and the domestic economy in
the agricultural production that occurs outside of the house the past. This chapter examines household excavations from
structure and is typically associated with men; communal six sites in the Andes and identifies the presence and ab-
work (i.e., supra-household production) within the ayllu, or sence of two features, hearths and grinding stones, that are
community kin group, is only performed at specific times ac- essential elements of the Andean domestic tool kit. The
cording to the agricultural cycle (yanantin; see Urton 1997). case study sites are located in the Upper Mantaro Valley in
This model, however, ignores the part of the domestic econ- central Peru (Figure 3.1): the sites of Hatunmarca, Tunan-
omy that occurs within the house, a sphere of activity most marca, and Umpamalca date to the Late Intermediate pe-
commonly associated with women. In accepting these basic riod Wanka II (1350–1450 C.E.) and Marca, Chucchus, and
tenets, scholars have failed to question the implicit eco- Huancas de la Cruz date to Wanka III (1450–1533 C.E.), dur-
nomic order, social relationships, and gender roles that this ing the Inka Empire (D’Altroy and Hastorf 2001; Earle et al.
model assumes. This case study of Andean household re- 1987).
mains in central Peru draws on a gendered perspective of ar- Archaeologists have often used hearths as markers of
chaeological evidence to challenge the normalized domestic domestic units because of their nonportable nature. Unlike
model of “lo Andino.” In the normative “lo Andino” model, some domestic artifacts, such as ceramic pots and stone
men and women living in single coresidential units perform tools, that can be transported upon abandonment of a do-
gender-divided, noncollaborative domestic tasks on a daily mestic unit, evidence of a hearth is literally burned into
basis. This analysis shifts the focus of the domestic economy floors or living surfaces and remains for archaeologists

online ISSN 1551-8248. 
C 2008 by the American Anthropological Association. All rights reserved. DOI: 10.1111/j.1551-8248.2008.00003.x.
38 Robin Coleman Goldstein

Figure 3.1. Mantaro River Valley with archaeological sites: 2, Hatunmarca; 7, Tunan-
marca; 41, Umpamalca; 54, Marca; 74, Chucchus; 59, Huancas de la Cruz (redrawn from
Earle et al. 1987:Figure 1).

to uncover. Ethnographically, however, hearths do not al- occurrences were also probably variable and depended
ways represent independent domestic units (Weismantel largely on local circumstances of tradition and practice. In
1988). this study, I examine distribution patterns of the passive por-
Despite clear ethnographic evidence that grinding tion of the grinding stone, the batán, a large, flat or concave
stones are fundamental to cooking technology in the Andes, stone, often weighing over 20 kilograms. Migrating popu-
they have largely not been considered essential to the domes- lations abandoning a site had to consider the practicality of
tic tool kit (Aldenderfer and Stanish 1993; Nash 2002; Owen transporting these cumbersome, heavy stones; if the grind-
1993; Stanish 1992; for an exception see Russell 1988). This ing stones were in fact transported, despite their weight, then
is because although grinding stones often appear in domes- this may demonstrate a cultural preference, and we would
tic contexts, their presence is variable in the archaeological not expect to find many of these implements at abandoned
record: a single grindstone is not always associated with a sites. Postabandonment processes of grinding stone removal
single hearth and single domestic unit. Some scholars sug- would also depend on local factors, such as the proximity of
gest that the uneven presence of grinding stones is a result the abandoned site to more recent settlements. Although the
of abandonment or postabandonment processes, in which removal and reuse of grinding stones can affect their distri-
fleeing populations took their grinding stones with them or bution at a site, unless all grinding stones were removed, a
new populations moving into the region removed the stones general pattern of distribution should still be preserved.
for their own use (Nash 2002). Although these possibilities I suggest that this patterning is significant and can be
cannot be ruled out, it is important to realize that these analyzed to understand domestic economic organization at
Rethinking Domestic Economy in the Andes 39

a site. The material evidence calls for a reevaluation of our regions rapidly following suit (e.g., Bawden 1982; D’Altroy
a priori assumptions of economic organization and gender and Hastorf 2001; Earle et al. 1987; Hendon 1996; Kent
roles. Given the distribution of grinding stones and hearths 1987; King 2006; Robin 2002; Sheets 1999; Stanish 1989;
within sites, I suggest that on an everyday basis, the single Wilk and Ashmore 1988). Ethnographers, anthropologists,
coresidential unit was not an independent economic unit; and sociologists have wrestled with definitions of “house-
instead, multiple coresidential units engaged in commu- hold,” “kin group,” “domestic unit,” and the like for decades.
nal activities of a domestic nature. The presumed male– Defining a unit that can be identified and analyzed across
female economic unit typically adopted in Andean archae- cultures and millennia is difficult because of the diversity of
ology largely ignores a more complex and flexible domestic the past and present.
economy that incorporates men and women of different life In archaeology, however, a need to compare households
stages into a variety of everyday production and consump- has prompted their definition in terms of function, not form
tion activities. or kinship: households are social groups that share in a
definable number of activities and they can be identified
empirically in archaeological samples after extended study
A Gendered Approach
(Ashmore and Wilk 1988:4). Members do not have to core-
side (although they often do), and individuals can belong to
Gendered anthropology, now considered just “good an-
more than one household. Because the definition is based
thropology,” recognizes that people and the intersection of
on activities, rather than on physical components or familial
their sex, gender, life stage, social status, et cetera com-
relations, Ashmore and Wilk’s concept of the household is
pose the social relationships of the past and present and
cross-culturally applicable; the basic functions of a house-
play basic roles in the construction of broader social pro-
hold hold firm regardless of time and space (Ashmore and
cesses (e.g., Brumfiel 1991, 1992, 1996; Conkey and Spector
Wilk 1988:4). The four general functions of a household are
1984; Gero and Scattolin 2002; Hastorf 1991; Robin 2002).
classified as production; distribution or consumption; trans-
An engendered approach does not just identify women and
mission and transference of property, rights, and roles; and
their roles: it identifies people of different ages, genders,
cultural reproduction via child socialization (Aldenderfer
life stages, and so on. In this chapter, I suggest an engen-
and Stanish 1993:6; Ashmore and Wilk 1988:4; Wilk and
dered approach to understanding domestic production in the
Rathje 1982:622–631). To define a household in the ar-
Andes. The gender-divided dynamic of men working in the
chaeological record, archaeologists have to identify these
field and women processing the harvest, typically adopted
by archaeologists in the Andes, is linked to defining the ba-
In the Andes, archaeologists have largely accepted the
sic economic unit, the household, as a single coresidential
idea of the “household” as a basic economic unit (Bawden
house, where tasks are gender divided. The archaeologi-
1993; D’Altroy and Hastorf 2001; Earle et al. 1987; Nash
cal evidence, however, demonstrates that these coresidential
2002; Stanish 1992). The household has been employed
units do not have the complete tool set necessary for ev-
as a way of identifying daily subsistence practices and the
eryday production and consumption, which challenges as-
organization of everyday activities. In his study of verti-
sumptions regarding gender roles and division of labor. A
cal complementarity in the Andes, Stanish (1992) identi-
new model for domestic economy in the Andes that takes
fies the household as “co-residential work units.” Follow-
into consideration the multiple aspects of everyday produc-
ing Goody (1982), he asserts that agricultural work units
tion and consumption is needed. Here, I start with the houses
tend to coreside, and the dwelling unit, reproductive unit,
and the everyday implements and features associated with
and economic unit are closely linked. According to Stan-
them; by looking at how these vary, I provide an alternative
ish, this “co-residential agriculture work and habitational
to the typical domestic economic model.
unit” (Stanish 1992:38) should appear in the archaeologi-
cal record as remains of domestic activities such as hearths,
Household Archaeology and Definitions storage, sleeping areas, kitchen middens, and nonelite res-
idential structures. In each “unit,” these activity patterns
Household archaeology is a burgeoning field that has al- should repeat; thus, independent household units can be
ready provided numerous insights into understanding social identified by duplicated areas of the domestic production and
relationships, the domestic economy, gender roles, division consumption activities. These material correlates of house-
of labor, and other areas of study. Wilk and Rathje (1982) hold functions, however, are based on ethnographic and eth-
first defined this approach in the early 1980s and it has taken nohistoric models that assume coresidence; this assump-
a firm hold in Mesoamerica, with archaeologists in other tion narrows the scope of study to physical structures and
40 Robin Coleman Goldstein

nullifies any attempt to define “household” on the basis of and lives in a single structure or in adjoining structures. Eth-
activities. nohistoric records of the Inka Empire have contributed to
Recent studies have demonstrated that single coresi- the development of this house-based model of the house-
dences are not the only economic units with evidence of hold. The Inka Empire was largely organized as a means
daily production and consumption (Goldstein 2007). Nash of extracting labor and tribute from its populace (D’Altroy
(2002), in her study of Wari households in the south-central and Earle 1985; Earle 1994). Drawing on Goody (1982) and
Andes, has suggested that independent domestic units (res- Mayer (1977), Stanish (1992:27) suggests that during this
idences) are not necessarily economically independent: period, the basic tax unit was the “traditional household,”
a married couple and their children, who worked together
Mothers, associated with cooking fires, define the sim-
plest family group—a woman and those to whom she as a unit to provide tribute. Within the household, the gov-
serves food. Nevertheless these food preparation divi- ernment categorized all individuals into different classes on
sions do not necessarily carry over into other productive the basis of their productive capacity (Guamán Poma 1956
tasks that benefit the larger group spread out in several [1613]:137). Infants, children, adults, elders, and disabled
structures. Meals may be cooked in separate rooms, but individuals were classified according to their abilities to pro-
prepared food may be sent between structures to main-
tain ties that coordinate larger labor activities. [Nash
vide labor or tribute to the empire: “[the empire] separated
2002:51] the Indians into ten classes to be able to count them, in order
that they were employed in work according to their capacity
The classification of the household as a coresidential and that there were no idle people in this reign” (Guamán
work unit is drawn from the agrarian production component Poma 1956 [1613]:137; my translation). Each age and gen-
of the domestic economy: men from a single house tend their der was assigned a specific role, according to seasonal activ-
own fields and provide for the family members who live with ities, and was required to participate in the maintenance of
them. Although this may accurately describe agricultural the household. Men engaged in seasonal agriculture, as well
production (although perhaps not), it does not address the as lithic production and some herding; women also played
complementary component of the domestic economy that a role in seasonal agricultural work, as well as spinning,
occurs within the house, where women, as well as men, weaving, and herding; children were responsible for many
perform an essential portion of domestic labor on a daily small tasks, such as gathering fuel wood, plants for dyes, or
basis. herbs, as well as herding (Guamán Poma 1956 [1613]).
Many studies have looked at how agrarian production Individuals were embedded within extended kin groups,
is divided into everyday agricultural production and only ayllus, that provided a larger network of social and eco-
occasional events of communal production; fewer have ex- nomic support on a limited basis. Even so, they were es-
amined the productive activities that occur outside of the sential components of pre-Hispanic Andean life: members
fields. Instead, the domestic economy as a whole has been cooperated in the management of land and herds held in
characterized by a labor model that really has only been common, as well as in networks of reciprocal labor ex-
demonstrated to apply to agricultural production. By us- change. Labor in an Andean community has thus been di-
ing archaeological remains as a guide and not an a priori vided into two discrete entities: household and corporate.
assumption of domestic organization, we can develop cul- These two units, however, are both bound by the same rela-
turally appropriate models of basic economic organization tionships: kinship. Ethnohistorians describe the role of the
in past societies. ayllu, or community kin group, in relation to punctuated
In this chapter I will use “house” to mean a coresiden- events of agricultural production, such as the harvest or
tial structure in which at least some members of a household canal cleaning; they do not, however, specifically address
reside. “Household” signifies an independent economic, and the role that these kin relationships played on an everyday
presumably social, unit. I do not equate the house with basis. I suggest, on the basis of a reinterpretation of Guamán
the household—that is, those who live together in a sin- Poma’s descriptions, and, later, archaeological evidence, that
gle structure do not necessarily form the basic economic although an ayllu probably did not form a basic domestic
unit. work unit, closer kin members that belonged to the same
ayllu probably did participate on an everyday basis to pro-
Deconstructing the Traditional Household vide the basic economic requirements that sustained a house-
and Labor Organization hold. Instead of single house units constituting single house-
holds, it is more likely that individuals from multiple houses
In traditional descriptions of domestic economy in the pooled labor on a daily basis to meet the requirements of
Andes, the household shares daily tasks of an agrarian nature daily life.
Rethinking Domestic Economy in the Andes 41

Although Guamán Poma’s ethnohistoric documentation scholar, reports, “In the domestic economy, there were es-
of household productive tasks highlights the roles of indi- sential pits that served as storage. Equally important was the
viduals, it also emphasizes the necessity of an integrated recipient for grinding and the grinding stone (batán) to grind
household for efficient production. Many different types of maize” (Bollinger 1993:27; my translation). In his study of a
labor were required to maintain a household and provide Bolivian Aymara community, Johnsson also notes that “[t]he
tribute. Guamán Poma’s description, however, does not de- most important piece of equipment in every kitchen, after
fine the members that make up a household. His accounts the hearth, is the grinding stone, k’iaña. The stone, which is
of different age-grade tasks describe a network of individ- used several times a day, can have various shapes” (Johnsson
uals who mutually support one another in their work on a 1986:47). Grinding stones are still essential tools of house-
daily basis: children help their parents or grandparents, as holds today (although they are increasingly being replaced
well as care for the “young ones” of the household; an in- by blenders and the convenience of preprocessed flours), and
fant is cared for by his or her mother, who is helped by her they probably served a similarly important function in the
sisters, her grandparents, her aunts, or any other nearby rel- past.
ative (Guamán Poma 1956 [1613]:164). Although the Inka Grinding stones are used to grind a variety of grains
Empire extracted tribute based on a single household unit, or tubers to make flour (Bollinger 1993:32). They are
it is unclear whether this limited daily economic ties among used to extract oils from vegetables, such as maize or
these units. peanuts (Bollinger 1993:32); they also are used to press
As seen in Guamán Poma’s description of everyday do- and mince vegetables for cooking (Johnsson 1986:47).
mestic tasks, related individuals worked together to maintain Different-shaped stones are used for different activities:
the households. As recognized by both Weismantel (1988) round, flat, or oblong stones are used to grind or mince,
and Lambert (1977) in their ethnographic research, house- while spherical stones are used to tenderize meat (Johnsson
hold tasks are more easily accomplished by pooling the 1986:47). Some grinding stones are stationary, a household
economic potential of multiple individuals and households. fixture, and others are portable, depending on their specific
Instead of employing a model that isolates domestic pro- uses. In the Andes, the types of foods that were ground in the
duction from corporate production, it may be more useful past probably varied according to available resources; how-
to recognize the potential integration of house and supra- ever, hard grains such as quinoa, maize, or kiwicha, which
house production. By looking at the degree of integration grew in different ecological zones, could have all been pro-
of house economies, we can enhance our understanding of cessed on grinding stones, either to remove the chaff or to
the reality that may or may not correspond to the ideal make flour.
model. In her study of Zumbagua life in the Ecuadorian An-
des, Weismantel (1988) suggests that grinding stones often
serve as markers of a household’s life stage; thus, not all
An Archaeological Approach: households have grinding stones, and others may have more
Grinding Stones than one. When the children of a household grow up and
marry, they do not always establish their own home right
The archaeological record and the artifacts of daily life away. Even when the couple move out of the parents’ home
enable us to develop a more accurate understanding of daily and begin to cook their own meals, they often do not have a
life and the domestic economy than that derived solely from grinding stone but return to the parents’ home to complete
ethnohistoric and ethnographic sources. Once we have iden- this daily task. Weismantel suggests that this is a conscious
tified the tools essential for domestic production, we can economic decision: large households, with various gener-
assess the degree to which coresidentiality and economic ations of inhabitants, have a greater capacity to complete
work units correlate, which will refine our understanding daily household tasks.
of households and their economic activities. We can begin In the Andes, hearths and food remains have been em-
to understand how household production and consumption ployed as markers of domestic activity because they are
shaped daily life in the past. essential elements for food production: cooking requires
In the Andes, essential elements that compose the do- hearths and leaves behind distinct residues. Despite clear
mestic tool kit include a hearth, cooking pots, and a grinding ethnographic evidence that grinding stones are fundamental
stone (Bollinger 1993; Johnsson 1986; Weismantel 1988). to cooking technology in the Andes, they have not been con-
Although hearths and cookware are typically associated sidered essential to the domestic tool kit. Grinding stones
with domestic contexts, the presence or absence of grinding often appear in domestic contexts, but their presence is vari-
stones has not been considered. As Bollinger, an Andean able: a single grindstone is not always associated with a
42 Robin Coleman Goldstein

single hearth and single domestic unit. Given the everyday

role grinding stones play presently in Andean peasant soci-
ety and probably played in the past, their presence or absence
should be taken into account to understand how the domestic
economy functioned on a daily basis.

Case Study: Mantaro Valley

I examine domestic excavations from six sites in the

highland Andes of central Peru and identify the presence
and absence of two features in individual house compounds:
hearths and grinding stones. The sites that compose the Up-
per Mantaro Archaeological Research Project (UMARP)
date to the Late Intermediate period and Late Horizon
(1000–1450 C.E. and 1450–1533 C.E., respectively) (Figure
3.1). The data for this study were compiled from the UMARP
site report (Earle et al. 1987), Glenn Russell’s (1988) dis-
sertation on stone tools, and the edited volume Empire and
Domestic Economy (D’Altroy and Hastorf 2001). I am not
identifying a pan-Andean practice of domestic organization,
but I highlight potential avenues of future research based on
the presence or absence of material evidence. Although other
household studies exist in the Andes, the horizontal exca-
vations of domestic contexts of UMARP are exceptional in
that excavation records provide plans identifying both grind-
ing stones and hearths. Grinding stone counts are based on
the presence of fragmentary or whole batanes, the passive
components of grinding implements.
Excavations focus on elite and commoner houses, but
for this study only commoner houses are examined because,
as part of feasting, elite houses often process and prepare
foods for nonhousehold members, which could skew the re-
sults (Russell 1988). The sample of houses is drawn from six
sites in the Mantaro Valley: Hatunmarca (J2), Tunanmarca
(J7), Umpamalca (J41), Marca (J54), Chucchus (J74), and
Huancas de la Cruz (J59) (Earle et al. 1987). Houses consist
of at least one structure and a walled patio; excavated areas
range from 12 to 100 percent of the total patio group area.
Twenty-nine patio groups were at least partially excavated,
17 nonelite and 12 elite; 16 of the nonelite patio groups are
analyzed in this study (records for one of the nonelite patio
groups were incomplete).

Figure 3.2. Examples of compounds with one to three separate
structures: (a) Patio group J7 = 4, a one-structure patio group
The patio groups of commoner houses have between (redrawn from Earle et al. 1987:Figure 8); (b) Patio group J41 = 5,
one and three separate structures within a single compound a two-structure patio group (redrawn from Earle et al. 1987:Figure
(Figure 3.2a–c; Table 3.1). Drawing from Weismantel’s ob- 22); (c) Patio group J7 = 8, a three-structure patio group; the
northeast structures without numbers do not open onto the shared
servations in the Ecuadorian highlands, I propose that house
patio of J7 = 8 and were not considered part of this patio group
composition varies according to its “life stage.” Thus, a more (redrawn from Earle et al. 1987:Figure 14).
Rethinking Domestic Economy in the Andes 43

Table 3.1. Area excavated, number of fragmentary or whole grinding stones, and number of hearths in nonelite patio groups

No. of Grinding
Stones Standardized
Period Structure No. of Structures Area Excavated (%) No. of Grinding Stones for Area (%) Excavated No. of Hearths
WII 2=4 1 29 2 7 0
WII 7=4 1 100 0 0 0
WII 7=5 1 27 1 4 1
WII 7=6 1 46 1 2 0
WII 7=8 3 34 7 21 0
WII 7=9 1 35 0 0 0
WII 41 = 4 1 81 1 1 1
WII 41 = 5 2 58 0 0 0
WII 41 = 7 1 20 0 0 1
WIII 2 = 6/III 1 18.7 0 0 0
WIII 54 = 2 3 66 10 15 1
WIII 54 = 9/C 1 33 0 0 3
WIII 54 = 10 3 17 5 29 0
WIII 59 = 1 3 Unknown 1 Unknown 1
WIII 74 = 1 2 12 2 16 2
WIII 74 = 2 2 18 5 27 0
Note: WII = Wanka II; WIII = Wanka III. See Figure 3.1 for site numbers.

“mature” dwelling would house a larger group of people and no grinding stones were found. However, if we look to see
enable it to function more efficiently. “Younger” dwellings, whether there is a correlation between the amount of area ex-
on the other hand, whose members are far fewer, often rely cavated and the number of grinding stones recovered, it turns
on the efficiency of the larger, parent dwellings for everyday out that this correlation is not significant (–.057). Thus, it
necessities. Applying this to the Mantaro case, all else be- does not appear that the percent of area excavated per com-
ing relatively equal, a dwelling with more structures has the pound significantly affects the number of grinding stones
potential to house more individuals than a single-structure excavated (Figure 3.3).
compound. If Weismantel’s observation that the number of When we look for correlations between the number of
grinding stones in a house correlates with its age applies to structures in a patio group and the number of grinding stones,
the Mantaro houses, we should see a correlation between we find a correlation coefficient of .738, significant to the
the number of structures and the number of grinding stones, .01 level (Table 3.2). When this is standardized for percent
a necessary tool required for the labor-intensive, everyday excavated, the value is reduced only slightly to .652, also
chore of grinding various foodstuffs required for house- significant at the .01 level. Thus, regardless of the area exca-
hold production. Houses without grinding stones should be vated, we find a significant correlation between the number
“younger,” and they probably maintained a close relation- of structures in a patio group and the number of grinding
ship to other house compounds to fulfill their daily domestic stones present. However, four of the samples are based on
economic needs. less than 20-percent excavated area of patio groups. If we
The excavation sampling strategy of UMARP focused discard these samples on the basis that they are too small
on recovering the widest variability of features and artifacts to be representative and then analyze the correlations be-
(described in Earle et al. 1987:12–14) within each patio tween the number of structures and grinding stones, the
group. Even so, because the house compounds were not correlation coefficient increases to .878, significant to the
always completely excavated, we have to consider the like- .01 level; standardized for percent excavated, the correlation
lihood that our sample of grinding stones and hearths may coefficient remains significant, .847, also at the .01 level
be skewed as a result of partial excavations. Attempting to (Table 3.2).
standardize the data set, however, presents some problems. The relationship between the number of structures and
If we standardize the samples for the area excavated, we the number of hearths does not follow this pattern. In nine
are assuming that the grinding stones are evenly distributed of the 16 cases, no hearths were excavated within the patio
throughout the area of the patio group, which is probably groups; in seven, one or more hearths were present. Once
not the case; this also cannot address the houses in which again, we must consider the effect of partial excavations on
44 Robin Coleman Goldstein

Figure 3.3. Graph showing the lack of correlation between the percent of each patio group excavated and the number of
grinding stones recovered.

Table 3.2. Correlation of number of structures within patio groups to number of grinding
stones and hearths

Relationships Pearson’s Correlation Significance

Structures–grinding stones
Uncorrected .738 .01 (two-tailed)
Corrected .652 .01 (two-tailed)
Structures–grinding stones,
greater than 20% excavated
Uncorrected .878 .01 (two-tailed)
Corrected .847 .01 (two-tailed)
Uncorrected –.075 Not significant
Corrected –.057 Not significant
than 20% excavated
Uncorrected –.156 Not significant
Corrected –.279 Not significant

the recovery of hearths; in this case, however, it is more there is a correlation between the number of structures and
difficult given the multiple patio groups where no hearths the number of hearths (–.075), even when corrected for area
were found. For these cases, we cannot project with much excavated (–.057), the only certainty is that the distribution
confidence the potential number of hearths expected for of hearths appears to be more variable than the distribution
each house compound. Although it does not appear that of grinding stones (Table 3.2). How can we make sense of
Rethinking Domestic Economy in the Andes 45

these inconsistent patterns of hearths and grinding stones, periods of occupation would demonstrate evidence of houses
two basic necessities of a functioning household? in more advanced life stages, while those with shorter occu-
pations would have fewer “mature” houses. In our case study
of the Mantaro Valley, both periods, Wanka II and Wanka III,
Discussion were relatively brief (100 years and 83 years, respectively),
resulting in short occupations of the associated sites. An ex-
The patterning of grinding stones and house structures amination of the nine house compounds from Wanka II sites
is consistent with Weismantel’s model: the greater the num- demonstrates that only two have more than a single struc-
ber of structures, the greater the number of grinding stones ture. This dearth of multistructure house compounds may
associated with the house compound. This is not altogether be attributed to the short occupation of the site: fewer gen-
surprising if we consider that more people are living in erations of families resulted in houses that were generally
these larger compounds and thus require more food pro- “young” (i.e., single structure). In Wanka III, however, de-
cessing to support their economic needs. However, taken spite an equally brief occupation, we see a shift toward house
together with the absence of grinding stones in some pa- compounds with more, larger structures and correspond-
tio groups, a pattern of shared economic resources begins ingly more grinding stones. As others have suggested, this
to emerge. Grinding stones are associated with a task that may be attributed to greater demands for tribute during the
requires substantial time and labor investment. By coupling Inka Empire, when more space was needed for productive
the economic activities of smaller households with those tasks (DeMarrais 2001; Hastorf 1991); I would also suggest
of larger households, the smaller household can depend on that it became more efficient than in the previous period to
a larger labor pool that often includes many children who remain in multihouse households rather than to establish new
are capable of completing multiple tasks, such as grinding. single-house households, which resulted in a larger number
Weismantel describes how a well-established household has of people living in a single house compound. This may be
more household members, as well as a more elaborate food attributed to tribute requirements under the Inka Empire that
production tool kit: “This household was well into the most quantified the “household” as the unit of taxation (D’Altroy
expanded phase in its life cycle, with in-laws and grandchil- and Earle 1985; Hastorf 2001).
dren in residence. This fact was represented by the presence Although archaeologists have increasingly paid atten-
of two kutana rumis, big grinding stones, on the kitchen tion to domestic spaces, we need a more refined under-
floor” (Weismantel 1988:176). Older houses, with multiple standing of the essential elements that constitute a single
generations, have more available labor, which makes them productive household. Depending on the productive needs
economically more productive. Younger houses remain in- of a household, this will vary across time and space. Like-
timately connected with their parent houses, and this plays wise, although it is useful to identify repeating activities and
out on a daily basis when members of a younger house rely tool kits as a way of highlighting discrete economic units,
on parent houses to aid them in everyday productive tasks. it is also necessary to recognize where certain activities or
Instead of presenting a standardized image of a nuclear- tools are missing, even though the others may be present.
family, coresidential, gender-divided productive household, As seen in grinding stones, these may not be present in ev-
this new model demonstrates a far more flexible arrange- ery house, which is significant in understanding how daily
ment of domestic production and consumption that can play tasks are divided and organized among households. The ab-
out across various house structures. Likewise, the individ- sence of grinding stones may highlight fundamental links of
ual members of an independent household will shift over economic activities between discrete architectural units that
time, according to the life cycles of families: a single- would otherwise appear economically autonomous. Taking
structure house that once depended on its “parent” house into account both the presence and absence of domestic
compound for daily needs may become independent when tools is essential to interpret economic dynamics of the
it acquires enough members to become economically vi- house.
able. Hearths, on the other hand, are far more variable. Al-
though hearths, which provide warmth and can be used to
cook food or boil water, are essential to daily life, they Conclusion
do not necessarily indicate an economically independent
household. A gendered approach to the domestic economy liber-
This model of the domestic economy, focused on the ates it from previous assumptions and historical precedents
houses and their components, may also prove useful as a that emphasized the male sphere of agricultural production.
means of assessing the age of a site. Sites with longer The traditional nongendered approach, ironically, had
46 Robin Coleman Goldstein

ascribed gender to various tasks, effectively obscuring the The variety of household tasks described in Guamán
complexities of domestic roles and relationships. In con- Poma’s documents demonstrates that the domestic economy
trast, the gendered approach of this chapter attempts to “de- was characterized by far more than that which was pro-
gender” the domestic economy, returning the focus of study duced in the fields. For that reason, the traditional agrarian
to the material evidence. By turning our analysis around and domestic economy model cannot address the complexities
centering on the house, instead of the model, and on the of ancient household production and consumption. A gen-
lived realities of productive individuals, instead of stereo- dered approach to the domestic economy has highlighted
typed gender roles, we emerge with a distinct portrait of the the importance individuals and lived realities play in the
domestic economy and daily life in these ancient Andean life cycles of houses and their economic production. The
homes. importance of kinship in the Andes cannot be ignored; like-
If we continue to define a household as the fundamental wise, the ways in which these ties crosscut households and
economic unit, we need to identify the essential domestic communities have to be understood when approaching the
tools that households require. By emphasizing the mate- archaeological record. Ethnohistoric records are essential to
rial necessities of production, we can evaluate the degree to provide models of the past. However, archaeologists and his-
which individual economic units correlate with coresiden- torians must be careful not to interpret the documents on the
tial units. If tools do not always correspond to coresidential basis of some aspects (e.g., nuclear families as the unit of
units, this needs to be accounted for in our interpretation of tribute assessment) at the expense of others (e.g., division
economic organization. Instead of embracing the domestic– of labor on bases other than sex); likewise, a careful read-
corporate dichotomy discussed earlier, we can employ the ar- ing is required to avoid confusing idealized presentations of
chaeological record to identify how activities pattern within economic organization with the reality of daily life. In this
and between households. way, archaeology is unique in its capacity to provide accu-
The uneven distribution of grinding stones among struc- rate representations of the repeated actions that occurred on
tures may suggest an alternative to largely nucleated house- an everyday basis.
hold economies described earlier. The Mantaro Valley house This analysis has grouped together Andean households
studies demonstrate that small-scale household production and domestic practices into a single entity. Although many
may represent a degree of corporate production beyond that traditions are widely shared in the Andes, food produc-
of a single coresidential unit. The absence of grinding stones tion and consumption practices can be highly localized and
in small compounds and their presence in large ones may il- distinguish groups of people from each other (Weismantel
lustrate a regular, daily pattern of supra-house production in 1988). As more household studies are completed, we can
which multiple “nuclear” families share essential household refine our understanding of domestic practices to be able
tools and labor. As seen elsewhere in the Andes (Goldstein to identify variation based on ethnicity, class, or period.
2007), archaeological evidence appears to point to a type Grinding stones, hearths, and food remains may not be the
of economic production that falls somewhere between the only important correlates of basic economic behavior in the
extremes of domestic and corporate units. Andes. Cooking and serving vessels may also pattern vari-
In the Andes, the absence of a grinding stone in a house ably among households in ways that demonstrate specific
does not necessarily point to an absence of grinding as an economic links. With these new data, we will be required
important daily task of this household. Instead, this absence to reevaluate our current model of the domestic tool kit and
may be best explained by expanding our scope of analysis to make refinements that will more accurately depict past prac-
include several coresidential units. On a daily basis, related tices. Moreover, by compiling specific indices of domestic
people may be sharing basic production and consumption production and consumption, we may be able to identify
activities, even though they do not inhabit the same struc- households in their different life stages, as well as important
ture. Archaeologists may be able to distinguish the age of a economic links between households.
household and its life-cycle stage at the time of site abandon-
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