Condorhuasi pottery fragment found at Antigal de Tesoro, Catamarca, NW Argentina.

Ancient social networks of NW Argentina: the provenance of obsidian and pottery in early sedentary communities

Dr Marisa Lazzari

This project developed the foundational steps to investigate the distribution and consumption patterns of raw materials in the south-central Andes, focusing on north western Argentina (NWA) during the first millennium AD (part of what is usually known as the Formative Period).

During this time sedentary communities established various connections that provided them with diverse resources, enabling their access to a social world beyond daily interaction. My work was built upon the long-standing interest on ancient social networks in the region, integrating the study of stone tools with provenance analysis of both stone and pottery artefacts. Their joint consideration showed how these materials responded to different social understandings and alliances, which often resulted in conflicting obligations. Together with my doctoral dissertation, this was the first and only social interaction study in NWA to jointly consider the provenance of materials traditionally studied separately.

This project aimed at expanding the available database in order to understand how the things that travelled with and between people enabled particularly fluid social formations. Thanks to this work, it was possible to develop a larger funded project on social landscapes in NW Argentina. For more information about the project leading on from this one, please see the grants page or the project page for 'A social landscape without a centre'.