Pre-Columbian Society of Washington DC

The Pre-Columbian Society of Washington, D.C. (PCSWDC), is an educational organization dedicated to furthering knowledge and understanding of the peoples of the Americas before the time of Columbus. Founded in 1993, the Society provides a forum for the exchange of information regarding these pre-Columbian cultures between academic professionals and interested members of the public.

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Tracing the Moche Spectacles of Death: Performance, Corporeality, and Political Power in Ancient Peru. A View from Huaca La Capilla, San Jose de Moro (AD 650-850) by Luis Muro Ynoñán, PhD candidate, Stanford University.

This meeting will be held at the Charles Sumner School, 17th & M Streets, N.W., Washington, D.C.

The meeting starts with refreshments at 6:45 pm and the lecture begins at 7:15 pm.

This talk explores the relationships between death, rituals, and political power in pre-modern states. It investigates the large-scale funerary performances orchestrated by the ancient Moche who thrived in the desert coast of northern Peru from the 2nd to the 9th centuries AD. While Moche elite vessels depict lavish funerary performances involving large audiences, coffins being paraded, and individuals impersonating Moche deities, the physical locations where these performances took place have not been archaeologically documented. Huaca La Capilla is a monumental structure located within the Moche elite cemetery of San José de Moro. Based on long-term archaeological excavations there, it is suggested that Huaca La Capilla constituted the locus of these performances: the sacred space where the corpses of the elite individuals were physically and symbolically prepared for their journey to the afterlife. Moreover, it is argued that the spectacularity of these performances had a significant impact not only on the religious life of the ancient Moche, but also, and very critically, on the socio-political organization of this pristine state of the Andes.

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Luis Muro Ynoñán is a PhD Candidate in Archaeology at Stanford University and a Junior Fellow in Pre-Columbian Studies at Dumbarton Oaks. He holds a Bachelor and Licenciatura in Archaeology from Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú. Luis has been the director of the San José de Moro Archaeological Program from 2014 to 2017. He has also directed archaeological investigations in various sites in Peru, including the UNESCO World Heritage Site of “The Lines and Geoglyphs of Nazca”. In parallel to his dissertation research, Luis has conducted ethnographic investigations in northern Peru exploring the disjunctions between the rhetoric of heritage conservation, the recognition of local populations, and human rights. He is currently a member of The Peruvian Committee of the International Council of Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS-Peru) and an associate member of The Intellectual Property Issues in Cultural Heritage (IPinCH) project (Simon Fraser University, Canada.

Earlier Event: April 6
Later Event: June 1

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