The Chanka Archaeology Project under the direction of Dr. Brian Bauer is dedicated to documenting and interpreting the development of complex societies in the Andahuaylas region of the Peruvian Andes from AD 500 to AD 1532. The Chanka who once lived in the region are of special interest to archaeologists and historians since they once rivaled and fought against the Inca State for control of the central Andes.
The topic of early state development is a major theoretical issue of current anthropological research. The Chanka have been excluded from these discussions since very little original archeological research has been conducted in their core region. What theories have been presented concerning the development of the Chanka are largely derived from readings of the Spanish chronicles. Until these models are tested against archaeological data they will remain hypothetical and untested and the study of the pre-Hispanic social organization of the Chanka can not advance.
The project, which will run for three field seasons, includes a systematic archaeological survey of the Chanka heartland and an extensive review of archival materials located in Peru and Spain. The survey will cover an area of approximately 200 square kilometers and provide a comprehensive data base on the location, size and age of archaeological sites in the Andahuaylas Valley. The results of the survey will be used to address a series of questions concerning the development of complex societies in the region. For example: What effect did the conquest of the region by the Wari Empire (AD 550-1000) have on the indigenous populations?, Is there evidence of early state development in the valley during the Late Intermediate Period (AD 1000 - 1400)? and, What was the social organization of the Andahuaylas area during the period of Inca rule?
The archival research will take place in Cuzco, Andahuaylas, and Lima (Peru) as well as in Seville (Spain). The historical research will support, complement, and extend the archaeological field work by providing concise data on specific sites and by procuring additional information on the land holdings, populations, and social organization of Chanka kin groups.
In sum, the Chanka Archaeological Project will provide a regional context to study the development of the Chanka and it will enable scholars to address questions concerning the development of Chanka society before and after Inca expansionism. The project will also enable researchers to make comparisons between the development of the Chanka and that of other important groups, both in the Andes and elsewhere in the ancient New World.