You are here:Home/About/ Fellowship Community/ Michelle Elizabeth Young

Michelle Elizabeth Young

“The ‘Chavín Phenomenon’ in Huancavelica, Peru: Interregional Interaction, Ritual Practice, and Social Transformations at Atalla”

Michelle Elizabeth Young

Yale University, Pre-Columbian Studies Junior Fellow

Young is interested in the relationship between visual culture, religion, interregional interaction, and the emergence of new social identities in the Andes in the early first millennium BCE. Her research seeks to understand the Chavín phenomenon from a bottom-up perspective through an investigation of Atalla, an early village site with monumental public architecture located in the south-central highlands of Peru. Integrating multiple lines of evidence collected through excavation, she has reconstructed the development of the precocious community at Atalla. Young argues that the appearance of foreign styles and exotic material culture at the site can only be understood within the context of centuries of nested and overlapping exchange networks that linked societies living in the south-central highlands to those on the south coast. This research provides a valuable perspective on how the large-scale material patterns, often understood as archaeological horizons, are mediated by local and regional processes with significant time depth. Her research furthers our understanding of the motivations and mechanisms and through which large-scale social change occurred in the prehistoric world.

Michelle Elizabeth Young is a doctoral candidate at Yale University. She holds an MPhil from Yale University and a BA from the University of Virginia. Between 2014 and 2017, she directed the Atalla Archaeological Research Project, for which she organized and oversaw the mapping, survey, and excavation of an important Pre-Columbian site in the highlands of Peru. In tandem with her research and with the support of a Fulbright award, she developed a collaborative outreach and education program with the local community, schools and youth groups. She currently directs the Pre-Columbian Pigments Project, a collections-based research initiative aimed at understanding the exchange, use, and meaning of mineral pigments.