Collections > Electronic Theses and Dissertations > Daily Life at Cerro León, an Early Intermediate Period Highland Settlement in the Moche Valley, Peru

Daily Life at Cerro León, an Early Intermediate Period Highland Settlement in the Moche Valley, Peru (Under the direction of Brian R. Billman) In this dissertation I examine the cultural identity and social dynamics of individuals in households through the activities and objects of daily life. The households I study are at Cerro León, an Early Intermediate period (EIP) (400 B.C. to A.D. 800) settlement in the middle Moche valley, Peru. My results support a model of migration and long-term settlement by highland groups from the upper limits of the valley. Highland people remained in settlements throughout the middle Moche valley for roughly two centuries, abandoning the region just prior to the consolidation of the Southern Moche polity (A.D.200 to 800). Understanding interaction between highland and coastal groups as they sought access to the fertile middle zones of coastal valleys provides insight into small- and large-scale social organization. Highland-coastal interaction remained an essential element in trajectories of social complexity throughout the Peruvian Andes from prehistory into the modern era. The three residential compounds excavated at Cerro León were the largest and best preserved of the entire settlement. Members of multi-generational, extended or multi-nuclear family households created spaces for cooking, storage, and productive tasks related to intensive farming and small-scale craft production, including production of cloth and tools and ornaments of stone and copper. Results of my multi-faceted study of the origins, manufacture, and function of the pottery assemblage demonstrate that Cerro León households imported nearly all of it for their culinary needs. Plainwares were manufactured in both highlands and coast, but over 90 percent of the fineware feasting assemblage was of highland origin. The identities of the highland settlers at Cerro León were materialized through the spatial organization of household activities and choices linked to foodways, especially the use of a highland feasting pottery assemblage, to promote and legitimize their place in middle valley EIP society. The residences at Cerro León, like households throughout the Andes, thrived on a variety of relationships that create networks of obligations. Daily and large-scale ritual consumption of food, drink, and coca leaves provided the fuel that kept networks of social ties, resources, and labor active.