“Tackles one of the most difficult problems in prehistoric archaeology: How can we approach an emic point of view? That is, how can we come to know how the participants in a given extinct, nonliterate culture saw themselves and understood their world? The authors do this with considerable success.”—Monica Barnes, editor, Andean Past
“In seeking to answer how readers in the present can understand inner meanings expressed in architecture and iconography of the ancient Americas, the contributors to this volume have devised innovative frameworks focusing on people’s ontologies in distant times past.”—Penelope Dransart, coauthor of Textiles from the Andes
Presenting studies in Andean archaeology and iconography by leading specialists in the field, Archaeological Interpretations: Symbolic Meaning within Andes Prehistory tackles the question of how researchers can come to understand the intangible, intellectual worlds of ancient peoples. Archaeological Interpretations is a fascinating ontological journey through Andean cultures from the fourth millennium BC to the sixteenth century, A.D.
Through evidence-based case studies, theoretical models, and methodological reflections, contributors discuss the various interpretations that can be derived from the traces of ritual activity that remain in the material record. They discuss how to accurately comprehend the social significance of artifacts beyond their practical use and how to decode the symbolism of sacred images. Addressing topics including the earliest evidence of shamanism in Ecuador, the meaning of masks among the Mochicas in Peru, the value of metal in the Recuay culture, and ceremonies of voluntary abandonment among the Incas, contributors propose original and innovative ways of interpreting the rich Andean archaeological heritage.
Peter Eeckhout, professor of pre-Columbian art and archaeology at Université Libre de Bruxelles, is coeditor of Funerary Practices and Models in the Ancient Andes: The Return of the Living Dead.