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10271 - Material Culture as a Vehicle of Social - Political Organization: Chimu Pottery.

The Chimu culture of the North Pacific coast of today's Peru (Late Intermediate Period, AD 1000 – 1476) is well represented in world’s museums by the characteristic blackware pottery and other artifacts, generally however lacking the contextual find information. Quantitative and qualitative analysis of the 1832 ceramic vessels from the Ethnologisches Museum in Berlin therefore focused solely on the formal aspects of the specimens. Artifacts, i.e. objects used, modified or made by people, may serve apart from practical also social and symbolic roles. Based on the theoretical background of evolution of power and society, different approaches to the study of artifacts’ function, specialization, exchange and social complexity are outlined and tested on the Chimu pottery assemblage. Differences in morphometric parameters among the particular vessel types attest for increased state supervision of ceramic production in Chimu – Inca times, while control of iconographic themes was largely left to the taste of the local producers. Interpretation of the obtained results disproves primary position of pottery as means of social – political organization in the Chimu and Chimu-Inca societies (occupied by fine textiles and metal items), but still points out certain non-utilitarian aspects of both Chimu and Chimu – Inca styled pottery which probably represented a secondary socio – political indicator.

Keywords: Chimu culture, pottery, social - political organization, morphometry, iconography

Author: Kvetinova, Sylvie (Institute of Archaeology CAS Prague, Czech Rep / Tschech. Rep.)

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