Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Shimada, Izumi


Mortuary remains within an archaeological context can illuminate the social and political aspects not only of the individual(s) buried, but also of the living who interred them. Although this is so, a consensus has not been reached in regard to the following questions: how can we determine the social identity of the living that interred the dead? What are the implications of the living-dead interaction, and how do mortuary practices alter social memory in order to fit political needs? This thesis constitutes an initial attempt to answer these questions while examining pre-internment mortuary practices, and associated ideologies regarding the afterlife based on data collected during the 2015 field season by members of the Proyecto de Investigación Arqueológica Panquilma (PIAP), under the direction of Dr. Enrique Lopéz-Hurtado, of the Instituto de Estudios de Peruanos Programa de Investigación. This project is centered at the Late Intermediate Period (LIP) to Late Horizon (LH) secondary Ychsma site of Panquilma in the mid-Valley of the Lurín River Valley, Central Coast of Peru. This research aims to determine the time period and significance of a puzzling structure that was excavated at the cemetery’s margin at Panquilma in order to determine the building’s potential role in ancestral veneration practices of the lesser-elites. Upon first glance this structure appeared to have a layout of a household structure but was located near the cemetery, far from the residential center of the site. A wide array and substantial quantities of exotic and/or ritual items such as sheet metal fragments, colorful bird feathers, orpiment, and manuports, as well as Spondylus sp. and Nectandra sp. beads were discovered within this building suggesting non-mundane or non-domestic usages. Was this structure used in the preparation and care of the funerary bundles? Did it house an important figure (e.g., a shaman) in both their life and death? Or did it serve as a workshop for preparing ritual items? In an effort to ascertain the significance of this structure, this thesis examines the aforementioned remains as well as its relative location and the results from portable X-ray Fluorescence (pXRF) analyses of some of the excavated artifacts in order to provide a deeper understanding of mortuary practices at Panquilma and thus the Ychsma’s concept of and interaction with the dead on the Central Coast of Peru. The exact function of this structure cannot be concretely stated, but the diverse lines of evidence present appear to favor the first hypothesis in which this structure functioned as a funerary preparation area, but principally for elite and/or ritually significant bundle(s). This was ascertained due to the numerous exotic and/or ritual artifacts found associated within this Inkaic structure that likely served a ritualistic function in regard to water and agricultural fertility as well as serving as indirect evidence for elite ancestral veneration practices.




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