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A UAB research team discovers a new type of building built in Peru over 2000 years ago

This press release is also available in Spanish.

Obsidian tools from El Trigal.
here for a high resolution photograph.

A research team from the Universitat Auṭnoma de Barcelona has discovered a new type of construction, unknown until now, in the archaeological region of Puntilla, in the province of Nazca, Peru. These yards, built with stone walls, situated in the centre of the village, is where people went to work, either in agricultual or in the crafts. The yards date from the first millenium BC, but their exact date is yet to have been determined.

These results come from the analysis of archaeological excavations in the 2005 La Puntilla Project, which ended last December. The project aims to produce sociological research on the communities living in the Nazca province – where the archaeological area of La Puntilla is situated – on the south coast of Peru in the first millenium BC. The researchers have worked in two sites in the area.

Spondylus and collar from the central building in El Trigal.
here for a high resolution photograph.

They have found evidence of a new type of unique building that had not yet been found anywhere. The buildings are yards built with stone walls, located in the centre of the village. The excavation of part of one of these buildings, at the peak of the El Trigal site, has shown that the buildings were for centralised work, and not for cermonies as was first thought. The researchers have found evidence for a large number of agricultural processing tasks and craftsmanship.

The work undertaken in these buildings included making andesite and obsidian tools, manufacturing ornaments on marine shells, weaving and spinning and food processing. It is particularly remarkable that Spondylus shells were found, as these must have been brought from distant lands, probably from the coastline of what is now Ecuador. This means that the community living in La Puntilla, in the phase known by historians as Ocucaje 8, had access to goods that had covered large distances. The team of scientists now hopes to use radiocarbon dating to gain a more precise idea of the period of the first millenium BC in which the building excavated in El Trigal began operating.

The excavations have also uncovered domestic units that show the availability of the products manufactured in the centre of the settlement. This means it will be possible to analyse distribution and production and whether there was a dominant class controlling production.

It is hoped that as excavations continue over the next few years, we will be able to understand how those living in the Nazca region during the most primitive periods of the Paracas and Nazca civilisations. This period came shortly before the Nazca culture became firmly established at the start of the first century AD, and is therefore of great historical interest.