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|6th century–10th century|
Expansion and area of influence of the Wari Empire around 800 AD
|Common languages||Pukina, others.|
|Religion||Andean beliefs (Staff God)|
|Today part of||Peru|
Wari, as the former capital city was called, is located 11 km (6.8 mi) north-east of the modern city of Ayacucho, Peru. This city was the center of a civilization that covered much of the highlands and coast of modern Peru. The best-preserved remnants, beside the Wari Ruins, are the recently discovered Northern Wari ruins near the city of Chiclayo, and Cerro Baul in Moquegua. Also well-known are the Wari ruins of Pikillaqta ("Flea Town"), a short distance south-east of Cuzco en route to Lake Titicaca.
However there is still a debate whether the Wari dominated the Central Coast or the polities on the Central Coast were commercial states capable of interacting with the Wari people without being politically dominated by them.
Early on, the Wari expanded their territory to include the ancient oracle center of Pachacamac, though it seems to have remained largely autonomous. Later, the Wari became dominant in much of the territory of the earlier Moche and later Chimu cultures. The reason for this expansion has been debated; it is believed to have been driven by religious conversion, military conquest, or the spread of agricultural knowledge (specifically terrace agriculture).
As a result of centuries of drought, the Wari culture began to deteriorate around 800 AD. Archeologists have determined that the city of Wari was dramatically depopulated by 1000 AD, although it continued to be occupied by a small number of descendant groups. Buildings in Wari and in other government centers had doorways that were deliberately blocked up, as if the Wari intended to return, someday when the rains returned. By the time this happened, though, the Wari had faded from history. In the meantime, the dwindling residents of the Wari cities ceased all major construction. Archaeological evidence shows significant levels of interpersonal violence, suggesting that warfare and raiding increased amongst rival groups upon the collapse of the Wari state structure. With the collapse of the Wari, the Late Intermediate Period is said to begin.
Little is known about the details of the Wari administrative structure, as they did not appear to use a form of written record, but the emphasis on homogeneous administrative architecture and evidence for significant social stratification suggests a complex sociopolitical hierarchy.
The discovery in early 2013 of an undisturbed royal tomb, El Castillo de Huarmey, offers new insight into the social and political influence of the Wari during this period. The variety and extent of the burial items accompanying the three royal women indicate a culture with significant material wealth and the power to dominate a significant part of northern coastal Peru for many decades.
Another example of burials helping to establish social stractifications is in the city of Conchopata where the remains of more than 200 individuals have been found. This city is located about 10 km from the capital city. Earlier it was believed that this was a city of potters, but the burials suggest otherwise. They show that there were servants, middle-class, elite, and even perhaps low kings or governors .
During its expansion period, the Wari state established architecturally distinctive administrative centers in many of its provinces. These centres are clearly different from the architecture of Tiwanaku, which is believed to have been a more federalized state by some scholars (such as John W. Janusek). Wari architecture often had large stone enclosures with no windows and just a few entries, the sites had no central place for people to gather for ritual gatherings. While the Tiwanaku had a more open architectural plan that could accommodate multiple people at once. Using these administrative centers, the Wari greatly influenced the surrounding countryside. Scholars were able to look at the Inca’s to reconstruct some of the architecture of the Wari. Along the Inca highway system several Wari provincial sites were found, suggesting that the Wari used a similar road network. They also created new fields with terraced field technology, which the Inca’s also drew inspiration from.
Four-cornered hat, 650-1000 CE, Brooklyn Museum
Wari tunic, Peru, 750-950 CE: This tunic is made of 120 separate small pieces of cloth, each individually tie-dyed. Ceramics of the period depict high-status men wearing this style of tunic.
Pikillaqta administrative center, built by the Wari civilization in Cusco
Wig headdress, Wari people, 600-1000 CE, Brooklyn Museum
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- Isbell, William H. (2004). "Mortuary Preferences: A Wari Culture Case Study from Middle Horizon Peru". Latin American Antiquity. 15 (1): 3–32. doi:10.2307/4141562.
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- Tung, Tiffiny (2012). Violence, Ritual, and the Wari Empire: A Social Bioarchaeology of Imperialism in the Ancient Andes. University Press of Florida.
- Brian Finucane, "Ayacucho Archaeo-Isotope Project"
- "Archaeological chemists settle trophy-head debate
- "Pre-Incan female Wari mummy unearthed in Peru", Reuters
- "A Champion of the Wari," about curator Susan E. Bergh, by Judith H. Dobrzynski, The Wall Street Journal, October 24, 2012
- "Who Was Who in the Middle Horizon Andean Prehistory" by Patricia J. Knobloch
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