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San José de Moro and the End of the Moche from the Jequetepeque Valley

Luis Jaime Castillo Butters, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, Lima, Fellow 2011/12

During my academic year at Dumbarton Oaks, I have pursued and developed many research interests revolving around one central subject: the end and collapse of the Moche in the Jequetepeque Valley of northern Peru. All of these projects have crystallized in a book-length manuscript entitled “San José de Moro y el fin de los mochicas.” In it I have explored the state of our understanding of the way the Moche were socially, territorially, and politically organized, the absolute and relative chronologies of the North Coast at the end of the Early Intermediate Period and the beginning of the Middle Horizon, and the peculiar Moche adaptations to different landscapes and regions. Most of the research is based on twenty-one years of archaeological investigation in the Jequetepeque Valley and particularly at the site of San José de Moro. I explore in detail two particular lines of evidence: the origin, evolution, and decline of the artistic and iconographic ceramic styles of the late Moche and the rich sample of Moche funerary practices excavated at San José de Moro, which total more than 350 pit, boot, and chamber burials, some of which are the most complex archaeological remains for this society.

I have explored, as well, a number of other topics, all converging on the end of the Moche, including: issues of war among the Moche for the Pre-Columbian symposium; the relationship of Wari and the late Moche for the Cleveland Museum of Art; a reexamination of Moche human sacrifice for the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts; a detailed history of one hundred years of Moche research for the French Institute of Andean Studies; a study of late Moche architectonic models for the Museo de Arte de Lima (MALI); an examination of late Moche chronology for the fall Pre-Columbian roundtable; and a study of gender and power in the late Moche period based on the examination of the priest’s chamber burial excavated at San José de Moro.

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