An archaeological site in the midst of Peru's bustling capital has yielded yet another pre-Incan prize, an undisturbed Wari tomb containing two corpses wrapped in ceremonial fabric, archeologists said on Thursday.
The tomb, estimated to be more than 1,000 years old, was found at the Pucllana archaeological site in Lima. It contained the bodies of an adult and an infant, along with nearly 10 intact artifacts.
The adult was likely a master weaver, said Isabel Flores, an archaeologist at Pucllana. The infant, she added, was probably killed and buried in the tomb as an offering in the adult's honor.
"When we unwrap the bodies, we will be able to determine the adult's age, position in society and gender," said Flores.
The Wari civilization was active in an area that now contains Lima from approximately 600 to 1000 AD, some 500 years before the Inca empire emerged. Seventy Wari tombs have been unearthed at the Pucllana site, which is nestled in a residential neighborhood in central Lima.
But Flores and Gladys Paz, the head archaeologist of the team that made the discovery, both said that this most recent find is among the site's richest treasures yet.
"In terms of big discoveries, this is in the top three," said Paz.
The Wari, a complex civilization that preceded the Inca empire in pre-Columbia America, didn't rule solely by pillage, plunder and iron-fisted bureaucracy, a Dartmouth study finds. Instead, they started out by creating loosely administered colonies to expand trade, provide land for settlers and tap natural resources across much of the central Andes.
The results, which appear in the Journal of Anthropological Archaeology, shed new light on how early states evolved into empires in the region that became the Inca imperial heartland.
The study is the first large-scale look at the settlement patterns and power of the Wari civilization, which flourished from about AD 600-1000 in the Andean highlands, well before the Inca empire's 15th century rise. Relatively little is known about the Wari -- there are no historical documents and archaeologists are still debating their power and statecraft. Many scholars think the Wari established strong centralized control -- economic, political, cultural and military -- like their Inca successors to govern the majority of the far-flung populations living across the central Andes. But the Dartmouth study suggests that while the Wari had significant administrative power, they did not successfully transition most colonies into directly ruled provinces.
"The identification of limited Wari state power encourages a focus on colonization practices rather than an interpretation of strong provincial rule," says Professor Alan Covey, the study's lead author. "A 'colonization first' interpretation of early Wari expansion encourages the reconsideration of motivations for expansion, shifting from military conquest and economic exploitation of subject populations to issues such as demographic relief and strategic expansion of trade routes or natural resource access."
The results are based on a systematic inventory of archaeological surveys covering nearly 1,000 square miles and GIS analysis of more than 3,000 archaeological sites in and around Peru's Cusco Valley. The data indicate Wari power did not emanate continuously outward from Pikillacta, a key administrative center whose construction required a huge investment. Instead, the locations of Wari ceramics indicate a more uneven, indirect and limited influence even at the height of their power than traditional interpretations from excavations at Wari sites.