Master of Arts (MA)


Geography and Anthropology

Document Type



This thesis explores Early Horizon (900 – 200 BCE) feasting practices visible through the pottery assemblage at three archaeological complexes in the lower Nepeña Valley, north-central coast of Peru. Ceramic vessels were used for production, transportation, and storage of foods consumed for daily subsistence and during feasting events at the settlement of Caylán, a large town or city interpreted as the primary center of a multi-tiered polity. Secondary settlements at Samanco, a small coastal town, and Huambacho, an elite ceremonial center, indicate the complexity of this polity. Analysis of ceramic rim sherds reveals the types of vessels used at these sites, their function in storing, preparing, cooking, and serving foods, the frequency of their decoration, their distribution at particular locations within each site, and the volumetric capacities of cooking, storage, and serving vessels. Between 2003 and 2013, excavations occurred at Huambacho (2003-2004), Caylán (2009-2010), and Samanco (2012-2013). At Caylán, six areas and sixteen test pits documented the architecture and material remains of stone and mortar multi-functional housing complexes. Indications are that Caylán served as an urban population center during the Early Horizon period, with walled neighborhoods connected to communal plazas, adjacent patios, and rooms used for storage, production, and residence. Spatial analysis and site mapping helped reconstruct the layout of the site and the distribution of material remains within Caylán. Archaeologists have focused on qualitative aspects of feasting such as the presence or absence of certain features while quantitative aspects of feasting remain understudied. Questions involving how much beer was brewed, how much stew was prepared, and relationships between scales of food preparation for households compared to feasts need to be addressed. This thesis compares ceramic assemblages from different compounds at each site, interpreted as multi-functional residences of coeval Early Horizon groups. Results indicate that vessels were produced at households but discarded in public areas, suggesting that vessels and their contents were transported and used outside of individual households. I argue that variations in volumetric capacities of storage, cooking, and serving vessels at residences of different groups and in public areas serve as indicators of feasting events containing sociopolitical importance.



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Committee Chair

Chicoin, David