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Agriculture and the Onset of Political Inequality Before the Inka.

In Agriculture and the onset of political inequality before the Inka, Christine Hastorf uses the example of the late prehistoric Sausa of the central Andes of Peru to explore the processes of political and economic change, to investigate the ways in which archaeologists approach the study of these processes and to demonstrate how direct data on crop production (i.e. archaeological plant remains) can be used to track changes in the economic realm and to assess the relationship of changes in agricultural production to changes in political and social relations at the beginning of political inequality. Her conclusion, that political change in the form of escalating social and political tensions after the disintegration of the Wari state resulted in demographic shifts in the Sausa region, which in turn led to changes in agricultural production and to further political change, interweaves these factors masterfully.

This original work, based in large part on Dr Hastorf's extensive field research in the Mantaro region, also incorporates critical components of the research of her colleagues in the UMARP project and previous work by Peruvian and other researchers. As such it is essential reading for scholars of Andean archaeology and anthropology. Palaeoethnobotanists will find it a stimulating example of how botanical data may be used to address issues outside the narrow realm of subsistence reconstruction. The excellent organization of the text and Dr Hastorf's clear writing style make the book accessible to students as well as professionals.

The 12-chapter text is organized into four sections: I, political inequality and economics; II, socio-political change in the Mantaro region; III, agricultural production in the Mantaro region; and IV, the negotiation of Andean agriculture in political change. These sections present an indepth analysis of the economic, political, and cultural factors that came into play at the beginning of social inequality among the ancestors of the Sausa. Each individual chapter ends with a summary of the main points presented and/or a brief statement of the next stage of the argument that carries the reader into the subsequent chapter. This clear structure not only helps the reader follow the development of Dr Hastorf's argument, but provides linkage among complex data sets (settlement data, modern crop productivity, archaeological plant data, catchment analyses) and between the archaeological data and the theoretical underpinnings of the research. The common problem of lack of linkage of theory and data is overcome very skilfully in this book.

The book begins with an Introduction, in which the author's purpose is stated: "To study prehistoric political change, therefore, I discuss several cultural domains, how they change through time, and how they interact with each other...I want to "unpack" and track the relationship between the politics of social control and economic production as they link to centralized decision making.' (p. 4). In part I, political inequality is defined and the economics of intensive Andean agriculture discussed. Suggesting that agricultural changes should reflect changes in cultural principles through time, in part II Dr Hastorf reviews cultural principles structuring Andean life as revealed by ethnography, colonial documents and the archaeological record of the upper Mantaro region. Settlement and site data are presented; the emergence of political hierarchy and economic elites by Wanka II times is argued.

In part III, how agriculture contributed to the process of political change is explored by a concise overview of the region and its crops and a detailed presentation of original data on land-use zones, crop yields and agricultural methods. These data are then used to construct a base-line model of crop productivity by land-use zone. Site catchment analyses then transform the general model into specific models of optimal annual crop production for each of six sites and three archaeological phases. Finally, the palaeoethnobotanical data, the direct data on crop production, are presented by site and phase, and evidence for crop frequency change across space and time summarized. In part IV Dr hastorf explores why agricultural production changed -- why actual crop mixes diverged from expected values at some sites -- and concludes that political decisions, rather than resources or population density, escalated change. The final chapter relates the Sausa example of the emergence of inequality back to the general issue of how change occurs within societies.

Seven appendices present the archaeological, agronomic and palaeoethnobotanical data on which the study is based; the author and press are to be commended for devoting 35 pages to presentation of raw data for use by other scholars. Tables and figures are well produced, with a few exceptions. Readers unfamiliar with the Andean physical and cultural landscape will unfortunately find no photographs to introduce them to the region, its crops or people; Dr Hastorf's descriptions are accurate and detailed, however. These minor points of criticism in no way dampen my enthusiastic recommendation of this excellent work, which belongs on the bookshelf of any scholar interested in political, social and economic change, and how the archaeological record informs these interrelated, but distinctive, processes.

DEBORAH M. PEARSALL Department of Anthropology University of Missouri--Columbia (MO)
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Author:Pearsall, Deborah M.
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Sep 1, 1993
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