Under the direction of Dr. Christopher Donnan, Mr. William Sapp will collect data for his doctoral dissertation. He will conduct archaeological excavation at two Inca period sites in the Jequetepeque Valley in Northern Peru to determine the relationship between the Inca conquerors of this region and the prior "Chimu" inhabitants. Over the span of its ca. 10,000 year prehistory Peru saw the rise and fall of several empires. Coastal valleys went through cycles in which empires arose which forcibly incorporated local regions and ethnic groups into a centralized political structure. Such periods were followed by dissolution in which local areas once recovered a significant degree of autonomy. Northern coastal Peru is particularly interesting from this perspective because it was the seat of one empire, the "Chimu" which was then conquered and directly succeeded by the Inca. While a good deal is known about the Chimu period, much less is understood about their Incan successors and Mr. Sapp wants to learn how the Inca established control and governed this region.
Empires hold great interest for archaeologists because they provide an opportunity to understand how political control was exercised in technologically simple societies. The Inca case is particularly worthy of study because the Inca controlled a vast and geographically diverse region which extended from Equador to Argentina and incorporated inhabitants of Andean mountains as well as coastal desert plains. It appears that the Inca employed a number of strategies to govern and these ranged from direct military occupation and conquest to indirect rule where local elites were allowed to retain power. In northern Peru it is not clear whether the basic Chimu administrative structure was maintained or whether this was dismantled and day to day power devolved to the local level. It is also unclear the extent of Inca physical presence.
The Inca and Chimu are characterized by distinct architectural and ceramic styles and through excavation it is possible to determine at a particular site the extent to which each is present. One can also incorporate local regional styles into such an analysis and examine, for example whether blending and interweaving of elements take place. Because both ceramics and architecture fall within the visible realm, they make in effect, public statements and can considered reflections of underlying social and political patterns. Mr. Sapp with excavate two sites which he believes served administrative functions. The materials recovered will provide insight into Chimu - Inca interaction.
This research is important for several reasons. It will provide insight into how complex social and political entities develop and are maintained. It will yield data of interest to many archaeologists and assist in training a promising young scientist.