How war played role in civilizationPublished On: Tue, Jul 26th, 2011 | Archaeology | By BioNews
A new UCLA study has suggested that warfare, triggered by political conflict between the fifth century B.C. and the first century A.D., likely shaped the development of the first settlement that would classify as a civilization in the Titicaca basin of southern Peru.
UCLA researchers used archaeological evidence from the basin, home to a number of thriving and complex early societies during the first millennium B.C., to trace the evolution of two larger, dominant states in the region: Taraco, along the Ramis River, and Pukara, in the grassland pampas.
“This study is part of a larger, worldwide comparative research effort to define the factors that gave rise to the first societies that developed public buildings, widespread religions and regional political systems — or basically characteristics associated with ancient states or what is colloquially known as ‘civilization’,” said Charles Stanish, director of UCLA’s Cotsen Institute of Archaeology.
Conducted between 2004 and 2006, the authors’ excavations in Taraco unearthed signs of a massive fire that raged sometime during the first century A.D., reducing much of the state to ash and architectural rubble.
Based on the range and extent of the destruction and the lack of evidence supporting reconstruction efforts, the authors suggest that the fire was a result of war, not of an accident or a ritual.
Because the downfall of Taraco, which was home to roughly 5,000 people, coincided with the rise of neighbouring Pukara as a dominant political force in the region, the authors suggest that warfare between the states may have led to the raids, shaping the early political landscape of the northern Titicaca basin.
Inhabited between 500 B.C. and 200 A.D., Pukara was the first regional population centre in the Andes highlands.
The findings appeared online in the latest edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.