The Tuti Antiguo Archaeological Project
a trans-conquest investigation of ritual and domestic practices in highland Peru
How did Andean communities experience, interpret, and respond to successive waves of Inkaic and Spanish colonialism? How did they understand Christian doctrine as it was communicated to them by Catholic religious agents in the early years following the Spanish invasion?
These are the central questions that motivate my current research. Set in the upper reaches of the Colca valley in southern Peru, this investigation of the transition from Inka to Spanish rule involves both archaeological and archival investigation. Ecclesiastical documentary sources relate how Franciscan friars were the first clerics to reach the Colca valley. Arriving some time between the 1540s and 1560s, they established a series of doctrinas, or doctrinal settlements, at some of the principal settlements in the valley.
The archaeological component of the project identifies and investigates these settlements. They are unusually well-preserved, with standing fieldstone architecture, including small, rustic chapels, as well as ceremonial and domestic architecture from the Inka occupation. One of these, the site of Malata in the modern district of Tuti, is the focus of The Tuti Antiguo Archaeological Project (PATA).
The project aims to combine the strengths of both archaeological and archival information to obtain a stereoscopic view of this crucial period of transition. While ecclesiastical documents shed light on the ideological and institutional setting within which clerics operated, the goal of the archaeological side of the research is to obtain information on how pastoral theory and church institutions were actually implemented, as well as indigenous responses to them. How did the friars adapt to or rework the built environment that they confronted? How did local communities receive, recognize, and re-interpret these pastoral advances? To answer these questions, a micro-scale view of change and continuity in ritual and domestic practices is needed. Archaeology is uniquely equipped to provide such a perspective. The project has been active since 2006, beginning with mapping and test pit excavations at Malata, and expanded in 2007 and 2008 with large scale excavations in several contexts at the site.
My prior research documented a repeated pattern of association between Inkaic ceremonial architecture, plaza spaces, and early Franciscan chapels at several sites, suggesting that the first friars who entered the valley recognized and mapped onto the ceremonial spaces used in earlier Inka state-sponsored rituals. In this sense, I view the the built environment as an important structuring factor in this two-way intercultural dialogue. My current research thus investigates both the reinterpretation and recycling of ceremonial/ritual space at these settlements, and evidence for change an continuity in the patterning of domestic space and practices.
This project is a collaborative effort with the community of Tuti. Together we are working to raise awareness of the richness of the archaeological and historical patrimony of the village. My heartfelt thanks go to the community and the municipality, for all of their gracious hospitality and valued support.
This project is supported by a National Science Foundation Senior Research Grant (Award No. 0716883), a National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates Grant Supplement, and a Vanderbilt University Summer Research Fellowship.