Llama Caravan Hubs in the South-Central Andes: Ethnography and Archaeology

March 29, 2013 - 3:00pm to 4:00pm

The Anthropology Department, the Center for Latin American Studies, and the Center for Comparative Archaeology present:

Llama Caravan Hubs in the South-Central Andes:

Ethnography and Archaeology

A talk by Axel E. Nielsen

Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas, Argentina; Dumbarton Oaks Fellow March 29, 2013, 3:00 PM in 3300 Posvar (the Anthropology Lounge) Caravan hubs –places where pack animals rest for some time after several days of marching– are important components of road systems supporting long distance traffic with llamas that have been overlooked by ethnographers and archaeologists. These stops allow the animals to graze at will, while herders rest, repair their travel gear, and honor their wak’as. In the old days, when hundreds of trade caravans from different corners of the highlands travelled every winter to the valleys, many of them would meet at these places, exchanging information about trade opportunities in the lowlands, playing special games, and sharing common rituals, thus renewing the social bonds among herders and between caravans and deities. It can be argued, therefore, that these places operate as real hubs for the multiple forms of interaction and communication among the human and nonhuman persons who inhabited the social world of pastoralists. Combining ethnographic and archaeological observations made in the course of long-term field engagement in the Southern Andes (highlands of SW Bolivia, NW Argentina, and N Chile), I discuss the various material entanglements of these sites and their possibilities for the archaeological study of ancient trade networks.

Location and Address

3106 WWPH Anthropology Lounge