The Art and Architecture of Ancient America: The Mexican, Maya, and Andean Peoples

By George Kubler | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 13
THE UPPER NORTH: MOCHICA AND CHIMU

THE modern Peruvian departments of La Libertad and Lambayeque, which extend nearly 250 miles along the Pacific Coast north of Ancash, contain the principal remains of the Middle and Late periods of central Andean archaeological history. Two civilizations dominated the region: Mochica, which flourished from about 400 B.C. until after A.D. 700, and Chimu, governed by a dynasty enduring from about 1370 until the Inca conquest of the north coast valleys before 1470.1 The six centuries between Mochica and Chimu civilizations are poorly explained. Strong traces appear of an art called Tiahuanaco, and identified with the southern coast and highlands. Radiocarbon dating for the end of Mochica is far from complete and the historic evidence sifted by Rowe refers only to dynastic and not to stylistic events. Eventually the six-century gap between Mochica and Chimu will surely be narrowed by extending the duration of Mochica,2 and by recovering the early stylistic phases of Chimu. For the present, Tiahuanaco intrusions on the north coast are generally accepted as of about 1000.

The geographical distribution of Mochica and Chimu was roughly similar, with different patterns of expansion. Mochica influences appear to have worked south, while Chimu expansion affected the more northerly valleys. It is therefore justifiable to speak of inner and outer zones in northern Peru. The inner zone centred upon the Moche river valley, but the outer zone for Mochica peoples was in the valleys southward to Huarmey and beyond. For Chimu history, the outer zone was northward, to the deserts of Sechura and Piura and beyond.

Figure 87. Huaca Prieta, incised gourds, before 1200 B.C.

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