CENTRO DE INVESTIGACIONES ARQUEOLOGICAS DE AREQUIPA
The city of Arequipa, Peru has a long and rich history, covering almost 500 years. The prehistory of Arequipa, although less well known, is much longer and at least as interesting as its history. The prehistoric occupation of Arequipa lasted for over 10,000 years, beginning with early groups of hunter-gatherers who arrived here before 8000 B.C., and ending with the arrival of the Spanish in 1534 or 1535 A.D. The study of the prehistory of Arequipa includes the archaeology of the Incas, of pre-Incaic cultures such as Churajon, Chuquibamba, Tiwanaku, and Wari, as well as the archaeology of even earlier groups of nomadic or transhumant hunter-gatherers.
Chronology of Arequipa Valley
THE EARLIEST OCCUPATIONS
There have been relatively few studies of the first Arequipeños, but Dr. Máximo Neira has demonstrated that there was an early occupation near the city. At the site of Huanaqueros, close to the modern village of Yarabamba, Neira and his colleagues discovered spear points that date to about 7500 B.C. Projectile points found during CIARQ projects support the hypothesis that groups of hunters and gatherers visited the Arequipa Valley seasonally from at least 8000 B.C. to 1000 B.C.
In the higher elevations of the Department of Arequipa, cave sites including Sumbay, Mollepunku, Quelkatani, and Puntillo also provide an idea of early life in the Arequipa area. Rock art, projectile points, and other artifacts from Sumbay, for example, show the importance of hunting, and especially of camelids (llamas, alpacas, and their wild counterparts the guanaco and the vicuña) to the people who visited these caves thousands of years ago.
Although we still know relatively little about the Archaic period (8000-1000 B.C.) inhabitants of Arequipa, even less is known about the period known as the Formative, which lasted from approximately 1000 B.C. to roughly 500 A.D. Previous research in the valleys at the northern end of the Department of Arequipa demonstrate that these areas were influenced by the better known Paracas and Nazca civilizations, but the valley of Arequipa itself appears to have been relatively isolated during this period. Our research shows that the first permanent villages in the Arequipa Valley were inhabited by people who practiced horticulture and made pottery. The settlements from this time period are found near the banks of the rivers and streams, where people had ready and permanent access to the water they needed to irrigate their small farms.
THE ARRIVAL OF THE WARI AND TIWANAKU EMPIRES
Two important cultures -Wari, from Ayacucho, and Tiwanaku, located on the Bolivian side of Lake Titicaca - dominated much of the Andes between roughly 500 and 1000 A.D., a period known as the Middle Horizon. There is evidence of Tiwanaku influence throughout the southwestern portion of the Department of Arequipa, and of Wari influence throughout the rest of the region. Our research, combined with previous work, indicates that, close to the city, there are Tiwanaku affiliated sites in the Socabaya area, while Wari affiliated sites are located farther down river, in the Uchumayo area. The exact relationship between Tiwanaku and Wari is yet to be determined, but Arequipa, with evidence of sites with both affiliations, should be important in the study of this relationship.
THE LOCAL CULTURES: CHURAJON AND CHUQUIBAMBA
The two major local civilizations of Arequipa, Churajon and Chuquibamba, arose after the fall of both Tiwanaku and Wari, around 1000 A.D, during the archaeological period known as the Late Intermediate. The site of Churajon (first described by Monsignor Leonidas Bernedo Málaga) is located in the extreme northwest section of the Department of Arequipa. Churajon dominated the middle elevations of the Tambo and Arequipa Valleys until the arrival of the Incas in Arequipa. Chuquibamba is better known in the higher altitudes of the Department of Arequipa.
THE INCA EMPIRE IN AREQUIPA
The economic importance of the Arequipa Valley, with its large expanses of agricultural lands, its location between coast and higher elevations, and its many routes from the coast to the highlands, made this a very attractive area for the Incas. They settled the region by sending Orejones (Nobles) from both Cuzco and the Colca Valley to control the area. Their main settlement was in Yumina, although they also built towns and way stations along the important routes to the highlands. Arequipa was part of Kuntisuyo one of the four great regions of Tawantinsuyo, the Inca Empire.
The Ancient Roads of Arequipa (Spanish only)
The Rock Art of Arequipa (photos, loads slowly)
Tiwanaku in Arequipa (Spanish only)