Sponsored by: Archaeology Society of Staten Island
Lecture by Dr. Patrick Mullins (University of Pittsburgh)
One need not look further than the present political discourse on border security in the United States to appreciate the complex, ambiguous, and often volatile nature of frontiers and borders. To understand the present or future of such borderlands, we need to explore their unique histories and dynamic pasts. This talk will examine the transformation of ancient borderlands through tracing settlement pattern histories the Upper Moche Valley of Peru. This chaupiyunga region, an ecological frontier between the Pacific coast and Andean highlands, served a millennium-long tenure as a political frontier of two of pre-historic Peru’s largest coastal political entities: The Southern Moche Polity (AD 200-900) and the Chimú Empire (AD 900-1470). Using GIS analyses of demographic densities, movement, and vision, I will identify several legacies that shaped this frontier landscape from 1600 BCE to 1470 CE. First, the earliest monumental complex in the region served as an anchor upon which several re-occupying communities could weather through multiple political regimes by tying themselves to a powerful past. Second, coastal peoples and polities seemed to have been bound together over time: as traces of Chimú authority mapped onto the later remnants of an earlier Moche mound-center. Finally, Moche canal construction opened up a previously sparse frontier landscape that then became hotly contested by highland and coastal groups, possibly sparking several centuries of endemic conflict.