Date of Award

December 2012

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Jean L. Hudson

Committee Members

Bettina Arnold, Robert J. Jeske, Alex W. Barker, R. Jason Sherman


Camelids, Feasting, Formative Period, Peru, Ritual, Social Complexity


In the Lake Titicaca Basin, the Formative Period saw extensive changes in the scale and nature of sociopolitical complexity, ritual practice and economic organization associated with the transition from small villages to the rise of regional Late Formative polities. These changes were partially fueled by the development and intensification of agro-pastoral economies. Consequently, it is essential to compare and contrast subsistence and herding practices associated with the domestic and political economies, given that these forces supported life at the village- as well as the polity-level. A growing database exists for animal exploitation associated with Formative through Tiwanaku Periods in the South Titicaca Basin. This dissertation aims to add to our understanding of the Pukara Polity and Formative Period, as seen from the Northern Titicaca Basin of Peru, specifically the Pukara River Valley.

This dissertation addresses the goal of tracking diachronic change in subsistence, herd management, and extra-domestic use of fauna (feasting and ritual) by presenting results of an analysis of large faunal assemblages from two Pukara Valley sites--Huatacoa and Pukara. These sites span the Early to Late Formative periods. Excavated contexts from the small village-ritual center, Huatacoa, and the Pukara polity center itself, at Pukara, include remains of domestic activities, public area feasting, and ritual deposits. Documentation of this range of cultural activity areas offers a good opportunity to characterize everyday meals, commensal politics, and ritual behavior. Camelid exploitation is studied to characterize site-specific contextual use, compare polity-wide herd management practices, and as a proxy for change over time in their importance. Data analyzed and discussed include taxonomic abundance; taphonomy; camelid osteometrics and mortality profiles; body part representation, and evidence for butchery and food preparation patterns.