The osmore is a small drainage on the western slope

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The Osmore is a small drainage on the western slope of the Andes (fig. 2), comprising three branches that join near the modern town of Moquegua and flow towards the Pacific through a fertile but narrow valley cutting across the arid desert of Peru's far south coast. About 47 kilometers from the coast, the river disappears from the surface and flows underground beneath a barren, dry quebrada. Some 17 kilometers from the Pacific, the river emerges again for several weeks a year between July and October, watering crops in the constricted valley bottom and emptying into the sea near the port city of Ilo. We refer to the branches of the Osmore above Moquegua as the "upper valley", the stretch between Moquegua and the dry gorge as the "middle valley", and the seasonally-watered portion on the coast as the "lower valley". The Osmore Tiwanaku sequence was reconstructed by Paul Goldstein (1985, in press). The first phase, Omo, features a hierarchy of indefensible Tiwanaku IV ("classic") agricultural settlements established in the upper and middle valley between perhaps 780 and 980 AD (see figs. 3 and 4 for dates). The following Chen Chen phase, from perhaps 960 to 1170 AD, corresponds roughly to the Tiwanaku V ("expansive") phase of the altiplano. Radiocarbon dates suggest that intrusive colonies with Tiwanaku ceramics and burials were founded in the lower reaches of several coastal valleys, including the Osmore, during this phase. These colonies apparently persisted to perhaps 1280 AD. In the middle valley, the Tumilaca phase marks the declining influence of Tiwanaku. Finally, archaeologists have generally considered the Chiribaya and Maitas-Chiribaya ceramic styles to be local developments on Tiwanaku stylistic models that arose after Tiwanaku influence waned (Dauelsberg 1973, Goldstein 1985, but see Lumbreras 1973). However, radiocarbon dates (figs. 3 and 4) suggest that much of this local development occurred contemporaneously with the later Tiwanaku-related phases, from 1000 AD at the latest to perhaps 1400 AD. If this overlap is real, then understanding the relationship between the state "colonists" and the local population could be crucial for reconstructing the economic, political, and cultural nature of Tiwanaku expansion. The proposed research will focus on the two known Tiwanaku sites in the lower Osmore valley, El Algodonal and Loreto Viejo. El Algodonal (fig. 5) is a well-preserved, 1.8 hectare terraced habitation site with a .3 hectare cemetery. Using estimated population densities of 100 to 600 individuals per hectare (Earle et.al. 1988:11), El Algodonal probably housed between 180 and 1080 people. Although Tiwanaku-style round cist burials predominate, there are also rectangular Chiribaya-style burials, and both Tiwanaku and Chiribaya ceramics are found on the surface. Organic preservation is excellent, with plentiful wood, textile, basketry, animal, 3
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and plant remains. Profiles of looter's pits and eroding terraces suggest that several centimeters of midden can be expected in residential contexts, allowing large areas to be opened in a reasonable time.
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  • Fall '02
  • BruceOwen
  • Radiocarbon dating, Tiwanaku, tiwanaku colonies, tiwanaku expansion

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