Plotting Abandonment: Excavating a Ritual Deposit at the Wari Site of Cerro Baúl

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Donna Nash, Associate Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:

Abstract: Ritual was an effective power building strategy in many archaic states and early empires. In this paper we describe the ritual abandonment of a palace residence at the Wari site of Cerro Baúl in southern Peru. This exclusive ritual event brought provincial and local elites together and included a funerary internment, feasting, and the intentional creation of numerous and varied offerings throughout the structure. We document the patterning and contents of these deposits including food animals, non-consumable and exotic animals, lithics, and broken ceramic vessels. We posit that lavish offerings such as the one we document here were sponsored by the state and communicated institutional facts to participants. Elements of these rituals may have been repeated across the Wari Empire and been integral to Wari institutions. As such, the study of ritual depositions and other patterned practices may be one means by which the presence of Wari elites or control by the Wari polity may be assessed through material remains. The features of ritual deposits may shed light on the strategies elites used to exert power over their subjects. This methodology may have broad application in the study of expansive polities in the Andes and elsewhere.

Additional Information

Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 53: 112-132
Language: English
Date: 2019
Peru, Empires, Diacritical feasting, Middle Horizon, Political economy, Offerings, Elite strategies

Email this document to