You have now had a brief, but visual introduction to the site of Chavín and its context. Although there is nothing like visiting or working in the site itself, still you have some of the same experience. In addition to its scientific and numerical methods, doing archaeology also is fitting experience and perception into a logic that ties the archaeological record to the past cultures that produced it. In effect, we use evidence to narrow down the range of possibilities for the conditions and actions that might have occurred in the past.
I would like you to use your experiential evidence from Chavín to try to estimate the nature of the organization responsible for this site. What aspects of the site help to answer the following questions:
- How powerful was the human organization at Chavín? To what degree would leadership of any sort have been necessary to carry out what you have witnessed in this site? What evidence is there for the extent to which this organization controlled others, and is there a sense of the limits it might have had? Was this similar to any political systems that you are familiar with in the world today?
- On what basis did this organization control or influence people within its immediate society, and/or beyond the boundaries of this society? The wielding of power usually involves a justification of some sort; what might have been the justification for the power held by the leadership of Chavín? What was the role of the center of Chavín de Huántar in carrying out this control; what aspects of the site argue for how it might have functioned?
- Given your examination of the Old and New Temples, what can be argued to have changed across time as this organization evolved? Does organization, layout, style, elaboration, technology of the architecture and site features show any meaningful shifts? For any changes you see, what might they imply about trends in the nature of leadership in Chavín society?