Archaeology, Museums & Heritage – ‘Death, Mobility, and Empire in Southern Peru’ – School of Humanities Archaeology, Museums & Heritage – ‘Death, Mobility, and Empire in Southern Peru’ – School of Humanities

Archaeology, Museums & Heritage – ‘Death, Mobility, and Empire in Southern Peru’

Death, Mobility, and Empire in Southern Peru’

Dr Jacob Bongers (University of East Anglia)


Indigenous groups develop strategies for dealing with imperial control when they confront expanding empires. One strategy in pre-modern Peru was mortuary practice, a means of expressing relationships among the living and the dead. To what extent and for what purpose did indigenous groups transform mortuary practices during periods of conquest? Who were the dead? To address these questions, I employ an approach that integrates archaeological data, ancient DNA (aDNA), and other lines of evidence to examine two distinct grave types—chullpas (above-ground and subterranean mausolea) and subterranean cists— in the Chincha Valley of the Peruvian southern coast. These graves date to the Late Intermediate Period (1000 – 1400 CE), the Late Horizon (1400 – 1532 CE), and the Colonial Period (1532 – 1825 CE). Results demonstrate that indigenous peoples sustained, abandoned, and created entirely new mortuary practices under Inca and Spanish rule. Genome-wide data from six individuals in two cemeteries coincide with ceramic, textile, isotopic, and sixteenth-century documents to suggest that the Inca moved individuals from the Peruvian north coast to the Chincha Valley. This research widens the scope of imperialism studies to include a mortuary perspective on the dynamics between empires and indigenous peoples and provides evidence of state-sponsored resettlement in the Andes.


Jacob Bongers is currently a Senior Research Associate in the Sainsbury Research Unit at the University of East Anglia (United Kingdom). He is an anthropological archaeologist with a Ph.D. in Archaeology from the Cotsen University of Archaeology at UCLA. His research is based in Peru, where he explores how Indigenous communities configured ritual practices, settlement choices, and economic strategies to confront social and environmental change. His dissertation explored the relationship between mortuary practice and imperial conquest in the Chincha Valley of southern Peru (ca. 1200 – 1650 CE). He specializes in archaeological survey, geospatial mapping, GIS analyses, photogrammetry, aerial photography, and 3D modelling. Prior to joining the Sainsbury Research Unit, Bongers conducted archaeological fieldwork in Portugal, Chile, Ethiopia, Oman, and Peru.


Date: Thursday, the 2nd of September
Time: 4-5pm (AEST, GMT +10)
Location: Zoom
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The USYD Archaeology, Museums and Heritage seminar series is free and open to the public. Due to the current COVID-19 restrictions in Sydney, seminars are online only. Registration is essential, and registered attendees will be sent the Zoom link. Zoom attendees agree to abide the by the University of Sydney’s ICT policy.


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The Department of Archaeology is part of the School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry (SOPHI).

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Sep 02 2021


4:00 pm - 5:00 pm





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