Moche Food Most of the Term Paper

  • Length: 11 pages
  • Sources: 16
  • Subject: Government
  • Type: Term Paper
  • Paper: #77174953

Excerpt from Term Paper :

For example, the possibility exists that one site was a specialized food production area; it remains unknown if the occupants were farmers, herders or involved in a variety of activities. Similarly, another site may be a specialized elite compound. Evidence of food processing in rooms located at the bottom of the mound and storage jars in the center of the building, indicate that the elite may have fulfilled more than one function or specific individuals had access to certain areas of the building for food processing.

In addition, the elite and farmers were dependant on each other. The theory is if one of these sites produced food daily for the other, elites most likely had the means to ensure that food supplies were provided. Thus, it can be supposed, notes Dionne (2002) that the elite power was based on a redistribution system and exchanged services or resources against food. That is, the relationship between both sites went beyond hierarchical facts. Dionne (2002) believes, based on botanical evidence, that at least two social groups were living at Huancaco. One site was more than likely occupied by a specialized elite, but was also engaged in a variety of activities, perhaps feasting, confirmed by the presence of storage jars, hearths, evidence of food processing, and trash deposits. The other site most likely served as a working area to farmers and herders. However, it remains unclear if they actually produced food for the elite. It still remains to be determined is the nature of the relationship between the sites.

The extensive knowledge of the Inca may shed some light on the polity of earlier states, such as Huancaco and Moche. DeMarrais, Castillo and Earle (1996) studied the varying forms of power and how they equate to the Inka. Social power is the capacity to control and manage the labor and activities of a group to gain access to the benefits of social action. Throughout history, rulers and chiefs have used economic, political, military, and ideological power as a means to attain their goals. The choice of one strategy over another greatly impacts social evolution, since such choices reflect the historical circumstances and the objectives of the groups and greatly differ in cost, efficiency and sustainability. Military control is effective in the short run, where control over the means of destruction is possible, but warfare is a costly and unstable way of establishing power relationships. Economic control consists of land tenure systems and property rights that permit direct control over production and exchange. However, economic control is difficult except in an insular setting in which control of the seaways provides similar opportunities for elites to limit access to goods and resources. In other situations, strategic control of ideology contributes to the centralization and consolidation of political power.

Inka feasts were the most direct element of the relationship between the state and subjects, and rituals materialized the power and wealth of the state on a grand scale. After conquering new territory, the state alienated all agricultural lands militarily and symbolically and reallocated them to a kin-based corporate group in granting land rights back to the community, the Inkas legitimated their rights to labor service. In reality, however, the state did not interfere with traditional land tenure practices, and the subsistence and welfare of its members remained the kin-groups' responsibility. Subjects tilled agricultural lands set aside for state use and worked newly defined state lands. Other crews formed the military, built facilities, temples, and storehouses, and constructed roads that tied the Inka centers together. In return for these services, the state hosted work parties, providing workers with food and maize beer. Excavations at Huanuco Pampa suggest that state hospitality took place on a massive scale (Morris and Thompson 1985). This Inka center, although located a distance away from agricultural lands and local population centers, contained many storehouses with abundant foodstuffs. Central to Huanuco Pampa was a main plaza where feasts were described by early Spanish chroniclers. In the plaza's excavated assemblage, the high-necked Inka liquid-storage vessel probably used to serve the beer in public ceremonies.

Inka feasts thus expressed the state's authority, at the same time embedding it in long-established relationships between a community and its leader (Morris and Thompson 1985). Maize was a status crop in Andean culture prior to the conquest; local chiefs carried heavy jars of beer with them as they journeyed to meet their political responsibilities (Rostworowski 1977). In pre-Inka period excavations, Peni, maize and large liquid-storage vessels were found primarily in elite domestic areas. This suggests local chiefly hospitality (Earle et al. 1987). After the conquest, however, the Inkas appear to have taken over the role of host in this strategic region; local elite-sponsored feasts declined in frequency. Also, as the Inkas expanded their ritual obligation, overall maize consumption significantly increased. Chiefs regularly hosted feasts to demonstrate their capacity to marshal quantities of food beyond the reach of others Such hospitality may have lead to dependency and encouraged loyalty among individuals who came to rely upon it to help meet their daily subsistence needs (Barth 1969). At the state level, the costs of sponsoring a large scale feast or ceremony surpassed the resources of a single individual. The vast storage facilities of the Inka empire are testimony to the enormous cost to the state of underwriting its frequent feasts (D'Altroy and Earle 1985).

Some of this information regarding other locations may be extrapolated for the Moche. Donnan (2003), for example, states that the Moche probably did not have markets or money, but almost surely they practiced a redistribution system characteristic of Andean people at the time of European contact. Subjects gave local lords food and commodities, which they redistributed to nobles of lesser rank. Thus, vast amounts of food, raw materials, and handmade goods were systematically collected and redistributed effectively.. The surplus from redistribution supported a corps of full-time artisans who created objects for the elite. The lords used many of these items to demonstrate their power and wealth; others they gave to lesser nobility to maintain social and political allegiances. Supporting skilled craft specialists in this way created an ideal climate for stimulating artistic excellence and encouraging the innovation of sophisticated technology.

Archaeological indicators in Moche may show that food was also correlated with a network system. Ryser (2000) states that "In prehistoric complex societies such as the Moche on the North Coast of Peru, social status and social control was partially defined by access to certain highly valued goods and specialized services, and the ability to control certain kinds of production." Early state Andes rulers controlled the agricultural economic base in addition to symbols with religious or supernatural significance. The Moche preference for lima and common beans was not restricted to use solely as a staple food crop. Commoner populations in the Moche Valley appear to have consumed more common beans than elite leaders and rulers. In addition, symbols of Moche ideology are represented in icons of lima beans found on ceramic vessels. Similarly, Whiteman (2000) believes control over staple resources established the foundations for political development of Moche and Chimu elite classes. He states that "Exceptional preservation of artifacts and abundant architectural remains provided an excellent opportunity for me to study prehistoric resource management and levels of political centralization during the Moche Phase of Peruvian prehistory." He thus infers aspects of staple food storage and centralization through his study of the development and changes in architectural storage structures through time. With the growing complexity of societies, it is possible to observe an evolution of state-controlled storage facilities that accommodate the food surpluses required to support craft specialists and elite classes.

Wilson (1999) studied the construct of structures on the basis of food control. The Huaca del Sol, the larger of two platform mounds at the Cerro Blanco site, has huge basal dimensions of 340 x 160 meters. At its higher southern end it stands 40 meters tall, as one of the largest prehispanic adobe brick structures in South America. Alfred Kroeber, an anthropologist who conducted ethnographic and archaeological research in both North and South America in the 1920s, visited Cerro Blanco and discovered that the Huaca del Sol was built with an unusual construction technique involving the placement of bricks in a series of discrete, mud-jointed columns that rise vertically from the pampa right up to its maximum height.

Based on this construction technique, Kroeber (1929) suggested that the structure was built as a single unit, instead of in incremental steps over time, and perhaps by different social groups, "each contingent of a community building its own wall or column." Later studies by members of the Harvard Chan-Moche Valley project (Moseley 1975) added their finding that the adobe bricks on each column are imprinted with "maker's marks" that to a large degree are unique from column to column. This suggests that separate groups contributed to the mound's construction, "in return for which they were permitted, if not required, to…

Cite This Term Paper:

"Moche Food Most Of The" (2007, October 12) Retrieved January 18, 2017, from

"Moche Food Most Of The" 12 October 2007. Web.18 January. 2017. <>

"Moche Food Most Of The", 12 October 2007, Accessed.18 January. 2017,