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Socioeconomic differentiation, leadership, and residential patterning at an Araucanian chiefly center (Isla Mocha, AD 1000-1700)

Campbell, Roberto (2012) Socioeconomic differentiation, leadership, and residential patterning at an Araucanian chiefly center (Isla Mocha, AD 1000-1700). Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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The native populations of Araucania (southern Chile) never succumbed to Inka or Spanish conquest. But while independent indigenous sociopolitical structures persisted until the late 1800s, remarkably little is known about late prehispanic and early historical Araucanian sociopolitical organization. Lacking significant archaeological research, current reconstructions are based almost exclusively on European chronicles, and paint a bewilderingly varied picture of indigenous organization, ranging from a native Araucania made up of scattered autonomous kin units lacking any political centralization, to one consisting of powerful chiefdoms built on elaborate public display and macro-regional alliances among elites.
My research was oriented at producing a comprehensive understanding of Araucanian settlement and socioeconomic organization and social leadership through archaeological investigation of household variability and intra-community patterning at archaeological sites belonging to the El Vergel archaeological complex (AD 1000-1550) and subsequent historical reche-Mapuche (AD 1550- 1750) period. My research zone of 6 km2 was established in and around the site of P31-1, an ethnohistorically tentative chiefly center, on Isla Mocha (Chile). In this zone, a full coverage survey, intensive surface collections, and test pits were completed. Inter and intrasite analyses were made of ceramic, lithic, archaeobotanical, and faunal assemblages. The information gathered made possible assessment of several current constructs of native Araucanian sociopolitical organization.
The fieldwork revealed the existence of three communities (sites P29-1, P31-1, and P5-1), which were relatively autonomous socially and economically. If there indeed was a paramount chief at P31-1, the centralizing effects of this office were very weak. The research produced no evidence for social inequality based on wealth finance activities (in exchange or craft production), wealth accumulation, or even markedly different household activities. At both P29-1 and P31-1 excavations revealed small but pervasive wealth differences among residents, seen in variability in consumption of higher value pottery, better stone tool material, and in diet. These muted wealth differences, when combined with the presence of two mounds and a sizable platform, suggest patterns of native social differentiation and leadership based on prestige and ideology, rather than forms of economic control.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Campbell, Robertorjc25@pitt,edu
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairBermann, Marcbermarc@pitt.eduBERMARC
Committee MemberDrennan, Robertdrennan@pitt.eduDRENNAN
Committee MemberRichardson, JamesRichardsonJ@CarnegieMNH.Org
Committee MemberAbbott, Markmabbott1@pitt.eduMABBOTT1
Date: 31 January 2012
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 30 September 2011
Approval Date: 31 January 2012
Submission Date: 5 December 2011
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 398
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Anthropology
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Araucania, Chiefdoms, Chile, Mapuche Indians, Settlement, Social Complexity
Date Deposited: 31 Jan 2012 16:05
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:55


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