How Did Feasting Promote Cooperation between Cultures in the Ancient Andes?

Kasia Szremski

Vanderbilt University

This project ended on:
9 September 2013
How did people manage agricultural resources in the past? What kind of strategies can be used to share resources and avoid conflict?

What are the goals of this project?

The main goal of this project is to understand how people from different cultural groups interacted in relation to the management of agricultural resources zones during the Late Intermediate Period (1100-1470 AD) on the Western Slopes of the Peruvian Andes. Specifically, I hypothesize that coastal settlers living at the site of Salitre may have promoted peaceful conditions in the valley through holding feasts to which they invited their local neighbors living at the site of Campo Libre. In order to prove or disprove this hypothesis, I need to analyze soil samples in order to determine what crops were being grown and consumed at each site as well as analyze radiocarbon samples to verify the chronological relationship between the sites of Campo Libre and Salitre.

Why is this research important?

Competition over access to resources is one of the driving causes of conflict in the world today. However, resource scarcity is not a new problem and groups throughout history have employed many different strategies, ranging from cooperation to conflict, in order to gain access to these resources. My project speaks directly to these issues through investigating the relationship between different forms of inter-group interaction and resource management. Much of the research that focuses on inter-group interaction during the Late Intermediate Period in the Andes focuses on warfare and other forms of violent interaction. My research provides a counterpoint to this body of research by demonstrating that some groups during the LIP actually used strategies to promote peaceful interactions. The outcomes of this research will provide better understanding of how agricultural lands were managed during the Late Intermediate Period as well as provide new insight into how groups can manage conflict and decrease tensions through cooperative management limited agricultural resources.

How will the funds be used?

All of the samples that I plan to test were already collected during the 2012 excavation season. As such, funding will be used to pay for radiocarbon analysis, pollen analysis, phytolith analysis, and starch grain analysis. The pollen, phytolith and starch grain analysis will be carried out at the Cayetano Herrara University in Lima, Peru. I will bring radio carbon samples back to the United States at the end of July and submit them for analysis to the IGS laboratory at the University of Illinois. A small portion of the funds will be used to pay for the fees that journals in the field of Anthropology request in order to publish open access.


Budget Overview

Funds will be used to pay for:Soil analysis (i.e. Pollen, Phytolith, and Starch Grain analysis)radiocarbon analysisopen access publishing fees

Meet the Researcher


I am a PhD Candidate in archaeology at Vanderbilt University working to finish my dissertation. I fell in love with archaeology when I was in elementary school and my grandmother took me to see an exhibit of Pre Columbian art at the Art Institute in Chicago. I remember listening to her explain the iconography of the Yaya-Mama statues from Bolivia and thinking, I want to be able to do that someday! This passion lead me to a high school internship at the Field Museum in Chicago and from there to the University of Chicago where I completed my BA in Anthropology, and now I am just a few steps away from completing my PhD at Vanderbilt University. I have 10 years of archaeological field experience working in Peru, and am fluent in Spanish.

Project Backers

PJHOFFMuffalishBiggersKbrook59jameshamrickDadBiDKasia Szremskisir_lelandkmszremskiEburtCindy Wu5GarySzremski