Degree and scale of interactions among chiefdoms during the pre-Hispanic late period in northern Highland Ecuador (AD 1250-1525) Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/qb98mh824

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  • During the Late Pre-Hispanic period, settlements in Northern Highland Ecuador were organized under a number of chiefdoms. While a basic hierarchical political system is described in the ethnohistoric literature, the nature of the interactions between specific settlements has remained unknown. This study utilizes two methods for describing the degree and scale of interactions between these settlements based on archaeological data. In the first part of this study, comparisons of site size and complexity were used to describe the variation in chiefly sites at the regional scale. A Geographic Information System (GIS) was also used to model the distributional pattern of significant chiefly archaeological sites in northern Ecuador in order to determine spacing and examine evidence of hierarchy and possible clustering. In the second part of the study, the results of Instrumental Neutron Activation Analysis (INAA) of ceramic samples from chiefly sites were used to determine whether ceramic vessels moved among communities. The composition groups identified in ceramic assemblages were compared to field-collected clay samples to identify probable clay "sources". The locations of these sources were then compared to locations of significant archaeological sites as a way of tracking the production and movement of ceramics made from local and non-local clay resources. The results of these analyses demonstrate that the chiefdoms of the Late Period were associated through a regional political system that lacked a nested hierarchy. The trace-element analyses in the northern part of the study area revealed that a limited number of ceramics were moving between larger settlements, while smaller settlements consumed ceramics almost exclusively of local production. These new models of interaction provide valuable information for the study of political organization prior to Inca and Spanish influence. Identification of interaction patterns in chiefdom societies also directly influences our understanding of economic and political systems in the context of chiefdoms.
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