Peru – Formation of the Culture of Ancient Peru

By | December 21, 2021

The official name of the Inca state, Tahuantinsuyu, and its division into the four cantons mentioned above, responds to political-administrative criteria, and in part also ethnic and historical, while on the spiritual side it can connect to orientation in space, since it is ascertained that in certain ceremonies the officiant turned, from Cuzco, to the four suyu as to the four cardinal points.

Conversely, with respect to descriptive and human geography, this fourfold division has no application. In fact, the division of Peru into great climatic and morphological regions is ternary, and includes the three zones that the Peruvians distinguish with the names of Costa, Sierra and Montaña. For Peru 1997, please check aristmarketing.com

The diversity of geographical environments is undoubtedly impressive in its repercussions with human life, and many writers, especially those who study to support the genesis and differentiation in situ of Peruvian civilization, rely on different climatic and therefore economic conditions to explain the discrepancies between the various local cultures prior to the unification of the great Inca state. But a more detailed examination has shown that there is not a single one of them that has taken place in complete isolation, and that indeed their formation is characterized by a reciprocal influence that has left irrefutable proofs; from the anthropogeographical point of view, moreover, none of the three sectors, Costa, Sierra and Montaña, can be considered a closed compartment, and between one and the other there was a more or less active circulation. Above all, the relationship between Costa and Sierra is important, the real core of the genetic question of Peruvian culture. On the coast, contact between the various habitable oases is impossible directly, since they are river valleys transversal to the Cordillera and separated by desert areas; but communication is instead ensured with the Sierra, by means of the Andean passes. The Sierra is then a succession of various intercommunicating enclosures from the far north to the far south, and functions as a real corridor for the circulation of men and goods. Here are therefore sufficiently clear reasons for the wider and easier diffusion of styles throughout the Sierra sector, and also for the technical and stylistic differences that we find in the developments of the various districts of the Costa, although all linked by some fundamental common features. The Sierra is then a succession of various intercommunicating enclosures from the far north to the far south, and functions as a real corridor for the circulation of men and goods. Here are therefore sufficiently clear reasons for the wider and easier diffusion of styles throughout the Sierra sector, and also for the technical and stylistic differences that we find in the developments of the various districts of the Costa, although all linked by some fundamental common features. The Sierra is then a succession of various intercommunicating enclosures from the far north to the far south, and functions as a real corridor for the circulation of men and goods. Here are therefore sufficiently clear reasons for the wider and easier diffusion of styles throughout the Sierra sector, and also for the technical and stylistic differences that we find in the developments of the various districts of the Costa, although all linked by some fundamental common features.

There still remains the problem of reciprocal precedence, which, reduced to its essential terms, can be formulated as follows: the arts of the Costa prior to those of the Sierra, or vice versa, the creations of the Sierra, more ancient, regurgitated through the mountain passes towards the sea? This is really the most discussed dilemma of Peruvian prehistory, the consequences of which are incalculable for the local chronology, and, in a wider circle, to outline the overall picture of all South American archeology. Arguments in favor of both ideas have been raised in abundance. Julio C. Tello supports the priority of the Sierra. In the Sierra, the culture that he calls Archaic Andean, or Megalithic, represented by Tiahuanaco I and Chavín would have been generated.

Their artistic developments would have been transplanted in the sectors of the Coast, where they later descended to specialize the crops of their warm lands (yunga). Archaeological evidence would be the traces of the style of Chavín found in Iambayeque, in the garbage dumps of Ancón and in the cemeteries of Paracas.

Instead Max Uhle, to whom South American archeology owes the first applications of the stratigraphic method, is an advocate of Costa’s priority. The Uhle dug the foundations of the temple of Pachacamac in 1896 on the coast of Peru, and could count 4 successive layers: the deepest of the tiahuanaco type, the superficial one of the Cuzco style, that is, Inca. Carried out new excavation campaigns in the various sectors of the coast, he distinguished the three styles of protonasca (southern valleys), protolima (central valleys) and protochimú (northern valleys), which arrived at peculiar developments starting from a common fund, represented by the first of they; these three styles of the Coast or, better said, the archaeological layer that contains them, rests directly on a layer of lower culture, of primitive fishermen, comparable to the Fuegini of southernmost point of the continent. The fact that the bricks of the oldest walls of the Pachacamac temple, found beneath the layer containing remains of the tiahuanaco type, gave fragments of protolima pottery, leads Uhle to affirm that the three types of the Coast are prior to Tiahuanaco, conspicuous representative of the art of the plateau.

Summarizing the controversy over the chronological priority between Costa and Sierra, as carried out by the two most authoritative and modern champions of the two antinomic concepts, we see that Tello’s position rests on an initial postulate, which leads him to condemn, as absurd, “that a primitive population of fishermen of the coast had abandoned its usual occupation of fishing, to replace it with the cultivation of plants originating from the Montaña and the Sierra “. This transition from an economy of fishermen to that of farmers is, in fact, an ethnological absurdity, but Tello does not see that it is not necessary to postulate it, if we free our spirit from the prejudice that the various economic forms had to develop on site in a subsequent series, one from the other. When, then,

The Uhle, on the contrary, basing its construction on the objective observation of the results of the excavation, does not give rise to theoretical criticisms, but only to the desire to ascertain and control the stratigraphic relationships he described. In recent years, the tastes of the North American AL Kroeber are worthy of note, and although he tends to postpone the verdict with utmost prudence to future times, it is nevertheless evident that the Uhle system remains confirmed in its fundamental points.

Cultures established through the analysis of artistic creations, especially ceramics, can be grouped as follows: Costa: 1. southern valleys, with the protonasca or nasca I style, and the two periods of Ica; 2. valleys of the center with the Protolima (Nievería) and Recuay styles; 3. northern valleys, with protochimú otherwise known as chimú I (Trujillo), and chimú tardivo, or chimú II (Chanchán). Sierra, with the styles of Chavín and Tiahuanaco I, followed by Tiahuanaco II or Epigono. Finally, the Inca or Cuzco style.

Formation of the Culture of Ancient Peru