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Doubts about How the Middle Horizon Collapsed (ca. A.D. 1000) and Other Insights from the Looted Cemeteries of the Lower Ica Valley, South Coast of Peru

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Beresford-Jones, DG  ORCID logo
Sturt, FC 
Pullen, AG 
Arce Torres, S 


This paper presents new information from funerary contexts in the lower Ica Valley, south coast of Peru, spanning two millennia from the end of the Early Horizon to the Late Intermediate Period. Although severely looted, these sites can still yield valuable information. We discuss their architecture and material culture in the context of radiocarbon dates. Among other findings, these cast new light on the poorly understood transition from the Middle Horizon to the Late Intermediate Period, for which a paucity of archaeological data from c. A.D. 1000 to 1250 has long been taken as evidence of an environmentally or socially-induced demographic collapse. Yet the data we present here suggests that the basins of the lower Ica Valley were likely occupied continuously over this period, and that the echoes of Wari influence here may have lasted longer than previously thought.



South coast Peru, burial archaeology, chronology, Middle Horizon, Late Intermediate Period

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Journal of Field Archaeology

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Informa UK Limited
British Academy (SG-42196)
We thank the Ministerio de Cultural del Perú for granting permission for the fieldwork (No. 0028-2010-VMPCIC-MC) and analysis of samples for dating (No. 369-2011-VMPCIC-MC); Alberto Benavides Ganoza and the people of Samaca for facilitating fieldwork, all participants of the Proyecto de investigación arqueológica Samaca and Viviana Siveroni and Ruben Garcia for their useful thoughts and suggestions. This work was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.