Nepeña Valley Survey (1967-1980)

In 1967 I began a multi-year systematic archaeological survey of the Nepeña Valley on the north coast of Peru. My selection of this valley for research was prompted by Junius Bird of the American Museum of Natural History who was involved in the planning of a major project there, focusing on the clearing of the Moche site of Pañamarca. I was encouraged to precede this work with a survey to determine the extent and nature of the various cultures in Nepeña. Although funding for Bird's project never materialized, I continued my survey over a period of almost 18 years, with trips to Peru in 1967, 1971, 1979. My graduate student, Richard Daggett, continued the survey during 1980-81,writing his dissertation on "The Early Horizon Occupation of the Nepeña Valley, North Central Coast of Peru" in 1985. My own research is published in Proulx 1968b, 1973, and 1985 among others (see bibliography).

The eminent Peruvian archaeologist, Julio C. Tello, had argued previously that many of the early sites in Nepeña had been established by colonists from the highland Chavín Culture during the Early Horizon. Our research demonstrated that although Chavín influence was present in Nepeña, local cultures predominated during the Early Horizon. These local cultures were involved in conflict as seen in the many fortresses present and in the ground slate projectile points found within them. Recent research has demonstrated that complex society began in coastal Peru as early as the Preceramic Period (which ended around 1800 B.C.) and that the early temples and iconography of the Preceramic and Initial Period (1800-900 B.C,) played a decisive role in the formation of the Chavín culture.

The Moche and Recuay cultures dominated the Early Intermediate Period, followed by strong Wari influences during the Middle Horizon. A local culture, derived from Wari and characterized by pottery with black-on-white motifs bridged the transition to the Late Intermediate Period. The Chimú culture conquered the valley in the Late Intermediate Period and established an administrative center. When the Inca subjugated the Chimú kingdom, Nepeña became part of their empire, although few Inca remains have been found in the valley.

Over 360 sites have been documented in the Nepeña Valley by Daggett and myself. Additional sites in the uppermost reaches of the tributaries remain to be examined, but the majority of the sites in the main valley system have been investigated.

Among the major contributions of the survey are the following:

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The Chimú invaded the Nepeña Valley in the latter part of the Late Intermediate Period (Fig. 21), followed by the Inca (Fig. 22), each with their distinctive pottery.

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Fig. 22 (click image to view full size)

In 1993 I published a book chapter in which I reviewed the Nepeña Valley Project, particularly the methodology I used, what I would have done differently, The chapter also provides a detailed account of my experiences in the valley (Proulx 1993).

I am delighted that, after 20 years of inactivity, young researchers have returned to conduct research in the Nepeña Valley. This includes the excavations of David Chicoine from the Sainsbury Research Unit of the University of East Anglia (UK) at the site of Huambacho, (my site PV31-103) (Chicoine 2006a and 2006b). My early survey had suggested that the site was constructed by the Moche Culture in the Early Intermediate Period and continued into the Middle Horizon. Chicoine’s excavation revealed an important Early Horizon ceremonial structure (200-900 B.C.) beneath the surface occupations.

The Japanese scholar Koíchiro Shíbata of the University of Tokyo has opened new excavations at the Early Horizon site of Cerro Blanco and has made important contributions to the chronology and architectural history of the site (Shíbata 2002). More recently he has carried out excavations at the site of Huaca Partida (my site PV31-125), discovering a magnificent Early Horizon temple with a number of carved clay figures in the Chavín style.

There are many additional sites in Nepeña that should be excavated, including other early sites such as Caylan (PV31-30) and Kushi Pampa (PV31-56) as well as the major Recuay settlement at Huancarpon (PV31-59). Vandalism, the expansion of agricultural works, and the occupation of sites by migrants and squatters, pose a major threat to the preservation of these sites.

Nasca Lines Bibliography

Publications and Papers Resulting From the Nepeña Valley Survey

Proulx, Donald A.
1968a Paper entitled Some Problems in North Peruvian Archaeology, presented to the 8th Annual Meeting of the Northeastern Anthropological Association, Dartmouth College, Hannover, NH, April, 1968.
1968b Paper entitled An Archaeological Survey of the Nepeña Valley,Peru: A Study in Method. Presented to the annual meeting of the Massachusetts Archaeological Society, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, May, 1968.
1968c Paper entitled The Southern Limits of the Moche Tradition in Peru, presented to the 33rd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Santa Fe, New Mexico, May, 1968.
1968d An Archaeological Survey of the Nepeña Valley, Peru.Research Report Number 2, Department of Anthropology, University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
1969 Paper entitled Archaeological Work in the Nepeña Valley, Peru, presented to the annual meeting of the Institute of Andean Studies, University of California, Berkeley, January, 1969.
1970 Paper entitled Recent Advances in Peruvian Archaeology, presented to the annual meeting of the Connecticut Archaeological Society, Washington, Connecticut, October, 1970.
1973a Paper entitled Early Horizon Sites in the Nepeña Valley, Peru, presented to the 37th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California, May, 1973.
1973b Archaeological Investigations in the Nepeña Valley, Peru. Research Report Number 13, Department of Anthropology, University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
1973c Report on Grant for Archaeological Survey of the Nepeña Valley, Peru. in American Philosophical Society Yearbook, 1972, pp. 684-686. Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society.
1974 Paper entitled The Early Intermediate Period on the Southern North Coast of Peru, presented to the 39th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, D.C., May, 1974.
1976 The Early Horizon of North Coastal Peru: A Review of Recent Developments. El Dorado 1(2):1-15. Greeley: University of Northern Colorado.
1978 The Development of Urbanism on the Southern North Coast of Peru. Unpublished manuscript
1979 Paper entitled Informe preliminar sobre las investigacions arqueológicas en el Valle de Nepeña durante en año 1979, presented to the Committee on Education, Cooperative San Jacinto (Peru), August, 1979.
1980 Paper entitled Formative Period Settlement Patterns in the Nepeña Valley, Peru, presented to the 20th Annual Meeting of the Northeastern Anthropological Association, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, March, 1980.
1981a Early Occupations in the Nepeña Valley, Peru. Unpublished manuscript
1981b Report on Grant for Research on Early Horizon Sites on the Southern North Coast of Peru. in American Philosophical Society Grantee's Reports, 1980, p.204. Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society.
1982a Territorality in the Early Intermediate Period: The Case of Moche and Recuay, ñawpa Pacha 20:83-96. Berkeley: Institute of Andean Studies.
1982b Paper entitled Moche and Recuay Relationships in the Nepeña Valley, Peru, presented at the 1st Annual Meeting of the Northeast Conference on Andean Archaeology and Ethnohistory, Cornell University, November 13-14,1982.
1985 An Analysis of the Early Cultural Sequence in the Nepeña Valley, Peru Research Report Number 25, Department of Anthropology, University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
1987a Paper entitled The Peruvian Formative: A View from the Nepeña Valley, invited lecture, David Boyle Memorial Lecture Series in Archaeology, University of Toronto, March 30, 1987.
1987b Paper entitled Sites with Textile-Impressed Pottery from the Nepeña Valley, Peru, presented at the 6th Annual Meeting of the Northeast Conference on Andean Archaeology and Ethnohistory, Trent University, Peterborough, Ontario, October 17-18, 1987.
1993 The Nepeña Valley Survey: A Retrospective View, in Ela’ Qua: Essays in Honor of Richard B. Woodbury, edited by Dorothy Krass, R. Brooke Thomas and John W. Cole, Pp. 225-236. Research Report 28, Department of Anthropology, University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
2004 Paper entitled Pañamarca and the Moche Presence in the Nepeña Valley, Revisited presented at the 69th Annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Montreal, Canada, April 1, 2004.
Proulx, Donald A. and Richard Daggett
1980 Paper entitled Early Horizon Sites in the Nepeña Valley, Peru, presented to the 45th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Philadelphia, May 1980.
Daggett, Richard E.
1982a Paper entitled The Nature of the Early Horizon in the Nepeña Valley,North Coast of Peru. presented to the 47th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Minneapolis, April 18, 1982.
1982b Paper entitled Virahuanca Bajo: On Understanding Megalithic Sites in the Nepeña Valley. Presented to the First Annual Northeast Conference on Andean Archaeology and Ethnohistory, Cornell University, November 13, 1982.
1982c Paper entitled Development of the State on the North Coast of Peru. Presented in the Symposium on the Origins and Development of the Andean State, 81st Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association, Washington, D.C., December 7, 1982.
1983 Megalithic Sites in the Nepeña Valley, Peru in Investigations of the Andean Past, edited by Daniel Sandweiss. Ithaca: Cornell University Latin American Studies Program.
1984 The Early Horizon Occupation of the Nepeña Valley, North Central Coast of Peru. Ph.D. Dissertation, Anthropology, University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
1985a Paper entitled The Discovery and Excavation of Two Cupisnique Temples in Nepeña: Reconstructing the Evidence for Cerro Blanco and Punkurí. Presented to the Fourth Annual Northeast Conference on Andean Archaeology and Ethnohistory, State University of New York, Albany, November 2, 1985.
1985b The Early Horizon-Early Intermediate Period Transition: A View from the Nepeña and Virú Valleys, in Recent Studies in Andean Prehistory and Protohistory, edited by D. Peter Kvietok and Daniel Sandweiss, pp. 41-65. Ithaca: Cornell Latin American Studies Program.
1986 The Peruvian North Central Coast During the Early Intermediate Period: An Emerging Perspective, in Perspectives on Andean Prehistory and Protohistory, edited by Daniel H. Sandweiss and D. Peter Kvietok, pp. 49-62. Ithica: Cornell University Latin American Studies Program.
1987a Reconstructing the Evidence for Cerro Blanco and Punkurí. Andean Past 1:111-163.
1987b Toward the Development of the State on the North Central Coast of Peru, in The Origins and Development of the Andean State, edited by Jonathan Haas, Shelia Pozorski and Thomas Pozorski, pp. 70-82. New York: Cambridge University Press.
1999 The Early Horizon in Nepeña: An Update. Paper presented at the 64th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Chicago.
Daggett, Cheryl
1983 Casma Incised Pottery: An Analysis of Collections from the Nepeña Valley. in Investigations of the Andean Past, edited by Daniel H. Sandweiss, pp. 209-225. Ithaca: Cornell University Latin American Studies Program.
Hurley, William
1987 Paper entitled Textile-Impressed Pottery from the Nepeña Valley, Peru, Presented at the 6th Annual Northeast Conference on Andean Archaeology and Ethnohistory, Trent University, Peterborough, Ontario, October 17, 1987.
Lynch, Thomas (editor)
1972 Current Research: Highland South America. American Antiquity 37(2):276 (Proulx's 1971 fieldwork).
1981 Current Research: Andean South America. American Antiquity 46(1):202 (Proulx and Daggett's fieldwork of 1979).
1982 Current Research: Andean South America. American Antiquity 47(1):211 (Daggett's 1980-81 fieldwork).
Patterson, Thomas C. (editor)
1968 Current Research: Highland South America. American Antiquity, 33(3):422 (Proulx's 1967 fieldwork).
Shimada, Izumi and Melody
1979 Research Abstracts. NorPARG Newsletter 2:3 (Proulx and Daggett's 1979 fieldwork).
1980 Research Abstracts. NorPARG Newsletter 4:4 (Daggett's proposed dissertation research).
1981 Research Abstracts. Willay 8:7-8 (Daggett's 1980-81 fieldwork on Early Horizon sites in the upper Nepeña Valley).
1984 Research Abstracts. Willay 14-15:3-4 (Daggett's fieldwork of 1980-81).

References Cited

Bennett, Wendell C.
1939 Archaeology of the North Coast of Peru. Anthropological Papers of the American Museum of Natural History 38(1) New York.
Burger, Richard L., and Lucy Salazar-Burger
1980 Ritual and Religion at Huaricoto. Archaeology 33(6):26-32.
Chicoine, David
2006a Early Horizon Architecture at Huambacho, Nepeña Valley, Peru. Journal of Field Archaeology 31(1):1-22.
2006b Agency, Public Spaces, and Authority at Huambacho, Peru. Paper presented at the 71st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Juan, Puerto Rico, April 2006.
Collier, Donald
1955 Cultural Chronology and Change as Reflected in the Ceramics of the Virú Valley, Peru. Fieldiana: Anthropology 43. Chicago: Field Museum of Natural History.
Donnan, Christopher (editor)
1985 Early Ceremonial Architecture in the Andes. Washington: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collections.
Feldman, Robert A.
1981 Aspero, Peru: Architecture, Subsistence Economy, and other Artifacts of a Preceramic Maritime Chiefdom. Ph.D. Dissertation, Anthropology, Harvard University.
Ford, James
1949 Surface Survey of the Virú Valley, Peru. Anthropological Papers of the American Museum of Natural History 43(1):1-89. New York:
Gambini, Wilfredo
1975 Monografía de Caceres del Peru-Jimbe (Distrito de la Provincia del Santa, Dpto. de Ancash). Lima: The Author.
1984 Santa y Nepeña: Dos Valles, Dos Culturas. Lima: Imprenta M. Castillo
Izumi, Seiichi and Toshihiko Sono
1963 Andes 2: Excavations at Kotosh, Peru. University of Tokyo Expedition of 1960 Tokyo: Kadokawa Publishing Co.
Mejia Xesspe, Toribio
1963 Importancia arqueológia del Valle de Nepeña. El Comercio, August 18, 1963 Lima:
Moseley, Michael E.
1975 The maritime Foundations of Andean Civilization. Menlo Park: Cummings.
Moseley, Michael E., and Carol J. Mackey
1972 Peruvian Settlement Pattern Studies and Small Site Methodology. American Antiquity 37(1):67-81.
Pozorski, Thomas
1983 The Caballo Muerto Complex and its Place in the Andean Chronological Sequence. Annals of the Carnegie Museum 52(1):1-40. Pittsburgh.
Schaedel, Richard
1951a Moche Murals at Pañamarca. Archaeology 4(3):145-154.
1951b Major Ceremonial and Population Centers in Northern Peru. in Civilizations of Ancient America: Selected Papers of the 29th International Congress of Americanists. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Shíbata, Koíchiro
2002 Informe Preliminar del Proyecto de Investigación Arqueológica Cerro Blanco de Nepeña, Primera Temporada. Manuscript of report to the Instituto Nacional de Cultura, Lima.
Soriano Infante, Augusto
1941 Monografía de Ancash: Nepeña (Provincia de Santa). Revista del Museo Nacional 10(2):263-277. Lima:
Squier, Ephraim George
1877 Peru: Incidents of Travel and Exploration in the Land of the Incas. New York: Henry Holt and Co.
Tello, Julio C
1933a El palacio de Cerro Blanco, Nepeña. El Comercio, October 3, 1933 Lima.
1933b Las ruinas del Valle de Nepeña I. El Comercio, October 6, 1933 Lima.
1933c Las ruinas del Valle de Nepeña II. El Comercio, October 9, 1933 Lima.
1933d Los trabajos arqueológicos en el Valle de Nepeña. El Comercio, October 15, 1933 Lima.
1943 Discovery of the Chavin Culture in Peru. American Antiquity 9(1):135-160.
Willey, Gordon R.
1953 Prehistoric Settlement Patterns in the Virú Valley, Peru. Bulletin 155, Bureau of American Ethnology, Smithsonian Institution. Washington: Smithsonian Institution.
Wilson, David J.
1988 Prehispanic Settlement Patterns in the Lower Santa Valley, Peru: A Regional Perspective on the Origin and Development of Complex North Coast Society. Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press.
Woodbury, Richard B.
1973 Alfred V. Kidder (Leaders of Modern Anthropology Series). New York: Columbia University Press.
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