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Archaeology: Moche Occupation of the Santa Valley, Peru. CHRISTOPHER B.


Article  in  American Anthropologist · October 1974

DOI: 10.1525/aa.1974.76.4.02a00900


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David Browman
Washington University in St. Louis


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adapts to a different set of environmental pattern analysis was most appropriate, since
conditions in a new region. the two areas both had Gallinazo ceramic
Besides Giddings’ article, the two articles style occupations during the early part of
of most lasting value for the student will the Early Intermediate Period, and both
probably be Wheat’s (1967) summary de- were conquered and assimilated into the
scription of the Olsen-Chubbuck bison kill, Moche state later in the Early Intermediate
which is an excellent example of how an Period. Donnan has thus modeled his data
archaeologist thinks deductively; and Mac- on settlement patterns so that comparison
Neish’s insightful introduction, which points between the Santa Valley and the Viru Val-
out the need for a broadened theoretical ley is both easy and explicit.
perspective on the problem of Early Man in The study is another of the exquisite
America. ceramic analyses written under the direction
of Dr. John Rowe at Berkeley. The volume
is mainly devoted to the analysis of the
Moche Occupation of the Santa Valley, ceramics from eighty-five sites with Moche
Peru. CHRISTOPHER B. DONNAN. Univer- occupation debris out of the 192 known in
sity of California Publications in Anthro- the valley, covering approximately three
pology, Vol. 8. Berkeley & London: Univer- centuries-ca. A.D. 200-500. These three
sity of California Press, 1973. x + 240 pp., centuries are divided into three units, Moche
figures, maps, tables, plates, 5 appendices, 111, IV, and V. Yet unpublished work by
bibliography. $8.50 (paper). Rowe and Donnan and others would now
permit subdivision of the century-long
Reusiwed by DAVID L. BROWMAN epochs into subphases of roughly fifty years
Washington University,St. Louis duration. While materials from all eighty-five
sites were used, most of the analysis is based
Donnan’s volume is one of the superlative on intensive surface collections made from
ceramic histories of coastal Peru. Dealing eighteen Moche cemetery sites and on strati-
with Moche phases on the North Coast, it is fied refuse from excavations at eight Moche
the third Berkeley doctoral dissertation on habitation sites. Donnan successfully carried
the Early Intermediate Period of Peru out an unusual pact with the local grave-rob-
published in this series. Along with Patter- bers. Unable to stop their looting, and
son’s (1966)work on the Miramar and Lima needing a large number of undisturbed
phases of the Central Coast and Proulx’s graves for good association of ceramic and
(1968)work on part of the Nasca phases of non-ceramic artifacts, Donnan decided to
the South Coast, it provides a good summary exploit the superior knowledge, experience,
of current ceramic knowledge of coastal and expertise of the native grave-robbers in
Peru for this period. locating graves. With some minor difficulty,
The study is clearly of great interest to he side-tracked their destructive looting into
Andeanists, but it will be of use to the a salvage archaeology program, providing
specialist in settlement pattern studies as him with the major portion of his grave lots.
well. At its peak, the Moche empire Ceramic evidence suggests a militaristic
stretched from Pacatnamu in the Pacasmayo expansion south by the Moche people of the
valley in the north, to Paiiamarca in the Trujillo and Chicama valleys into the Vim,
Nepeiia valley in the south. Donnan selected Chao, and Santa valleys at the end of Moche
the Santa valley because the river flows year Phase II or the beginning of Moche Phase 111.
around the provides a gerat deal of cultivable The expansion entailed more than militaris-
land capable of sustaining a sizable popula- tic domination, Donnan argues, for the
tion. In contrast, most northern coast valleys Moche style was adopted by the common
do not have rivers that flow year around, people as well as the elite. Barring minor
and therefore they experience a sizable fluc- local differences, the ceramic style in the
tuation in cultivable land, depending on rain Santa Valley during Moche Phases I11 and IV
in the sierra. Donnan deliberately utilizes the was strikingly similar to that of the Trujillo
settlement pattern terms and format used by and Chicama valleys of the Moche heart-
Willey (1953)for the Vim valley some fifty lands; Moche ceramic style completely re-
kilometers to the North. Vim-like settlement placed the local style that had previously

been prevalent, and Moche ware permeated the Viru Valley, Peru. Bureau of
the entire social fabric, being used by the American Ethnology. Bulletin 155.
rural farmers as well as the political and Washington, DC: Smithsonian In-
religious hierarchy. The Moche occupation stitu tion.
of Santa is a foreign domination by an al-
ready established “empire” from Trujillo
and Chicama, which spread suddenly at the
beginning of Moche Phase 111. During Moche Beginner’s Guide to Archaeology. LOUIS A.
Phases I11 and IV,Santa was a province in a BRENNAN. Hamsburg, PA: Stackpole
multi-valley state; but by Moche Phase V, Books, 1973. 318 pp., figures, museum
the Moche dominance in Santa was being guide, site guide, resource guide, plates,
replaced by Huari influence from the south. tables, references, index. $9.95 (cloth).
Both ceramics and textiles indicate that Reviewed by CHARLES C. KOLB
the technological orientation was toward Pennsylvania State University
mass production and repetition, and toward
the selection of media for artistic expression One’s initial reaction to this volume
that would lend themselves to mass produc- might be that we have yet another “how-to-
tion. Thus mold-fabricated wares were fre- do-archaeology” book; however, the reader
quent, and decoration was limited to simple will find more than a guide to methods and
bichrome slip painting on ceramics; textiles techniques designed for the neophyte and
were mainly of very simple weaves. This non-professional. Brennan, a novelist, news-
orientation seems to have been limited to paper editor, and author of three archaeo-
the northern coast of Peru-contemporary logical treatises, has regularly contributed to
Nasca craftsmen to the South emphasized archaeological publications and is the editor
artisanship rather than quantity in their of three eastern United States journals.
elaborate handcrafted polychrome vessels The title, Beginner’s Guide to Archaeol-
and their beautiful textiles of complex ogy: The Modem Digger’s Step-by-step Zn-
weaves. troduction to the Expert Ways of Unearth-
Donnan’s work, both in this volume and ing the Past, is indicative of the book’s popu-
in a work in press, is a major contribution to lar approach. It is also a recent Natural Sci-
Peruvian archaeology. Much of the volume is ence Book Club selection. In some ways it is
a detailed ceramic history, but Donnan an up-to-date expansion of Robbins’ hand-
builds upon this sturdy foundation to make book (1965, 1973), with important differ-
some of the first statements about the ences. Brennan writes for North American
political and econonomic organization of the prehistory students, but in topical coverage
Moche state that are based on solid data and examples, the book is best suited to
rather than speculation. The volume is par- Northeastern United States investigators.
ticularly useful to all Andeanists, but be- Brennan commences with essays entitled
cause of its necessarily limited chronological “Ensuring a Future for the Past” and “How
and geographical scope, may be of less in- Archaeologists Work,” before Chapter 3 con-
terest to the general anthropologist. cerning prehistoric man in the New World.
The latter is the weakest section, with
References Cited numerous flaws, omissions, and equivoca-
Patterson, Thomas C. tions. His evaluation of the Wisconsin 1-111
1966 Pattern and Process in the Early glaciations (pp. 37-41)is obscure and should
Intermediate Period Pottery of the have been phrased with proper name sub-
Central Coast of Peru. University of stages and explanatory diagrams. Unfortun-
California Publications in Anthropol- ately, clear distinctions are not made be-
ogy, Vol. 3. Berkeley. tween “Mexican” and “Meso-American”
Prouk, Donald A. civilizations (p. 37). There is undue emphasis
1968 Local Differences and Time Differ-
ence in Nasca Pottery. University of on MacNeish’s (1971) popular Ayacucho
California Publications in Anthropol- region article, while the Calico and Valse-
ogy, Vol. 5. Berkeley. quill0 sites, and Tehuacan and Tamaulipas
Willey, Gordon R. areas, among other significant researches,
1953 Prehistoric Settlement Patterns in remain unmentioned. The use of Willey

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