Date Available


Year of Publication


Document Type



Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Tom D. Dillehay

Second Advisor

Richard W. Jefferies


Early complex societies developed in the Central Andes as a result of in situ processes of culture change. However, the developments commonly associated with complex societiespermanent village settlement, monumental architecture, intensive agriculture, and institutionalized stratificationwere neither uniformly nor simultaneously adopted. Rather, they appear to have been the result of different trajectories that initially were tied to changes among populations in certain circumscribed areasoften within individual valley systems. This dissertation explores the cultural and historical contexts of emerging complexity in one such areathe lower Jequetepeque Valley in northern Peru. This area encompasses several quebrada drainages and associated landforms along the lower, western flanks of the Andes, which were the focus of intensive Preceramic occupation (~11,000-4000 14C BP). The Preceramic Period correlates with the transition from the Terminal Pleistocene to the mid-Holocene, which involved changes in the local environment from cooler, wetter conditions to warmer, drier conditions that approximate the modern arid setting. Despite these deteriorating conditions, transitional late Early through Middle Preceramic (LE/M) populations (~9000-4500 14C BP) continued to occupy the project areawith some adjustments compared to their Paijanense predecessors (~11,000-9000 14C BP)based on survey and excavation data from 138 sites. These data consist of faunal remains, lithic tools and debris, hearth features, land snail middens, limited paleobotanical remains, and remnants of simple domestic structures and two possible rudimentary canals. Analyses of these data indicate that LE/M populations had intensified the localization of their settlement and subsistence patterns, and transformed their use and materialization of certain spaces to which they had become tethered. Taken collectively with evidence of Early through Middle Preceramic occupation in the nearby Zana and Chicama Valleys, the regional patterns observed among these three drainages indicate that a broad-spectrum diet, territoriality, ritualistic activities, and the separation of public and private spheres of activity preceded the adoption of intensive agriculture, socio-economic stratification, and the construction of large-scale monumental architecture, among other, more recognizable markers of cultural complexity. Further, these patterns indicate that Preceramic populations in this region actively negotiated changes in their local environment and social landscape by employing strategies of adaptational flexibility.



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