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The Thorny Oyster and the Voice of God: Spondylus and Strombus in Andean Prehistory Author(s): Allison C. Paulsen Source: American Antiquity, Vol. 39, No. 4 (Oct., 1974), pp. 597-607 Published by: Society for American Archaeology Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/278907 . Accessed: 07/03/2011 11:29
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THE THORNY OYSTER AND THE VOICE OF GOD: SPONDYLUS AND STROMBUS IN ANDEAN PREHISTORY
ALLISON C. PAULSEN

An exchange network based on long-distanceexport of Spondylusand Strombus,two mollusksnative to coastal Ecuador, united the sierra and coast of both Ecuador and Peru during a long period of Andean prehistory.Thegradualexpansionof the export area is sketched,using evidencefrom threesuccessive periods: (A) 2800 to 1100B.C., (B) 1100 to 100B.C., and (C) 100B.C. toA.D. 1532. Eachof theseperiodscorresponds not only to an enlargement of the exchangesphere, but also to a strikingchangein the sociocultural statusand role of the two shellfish in highlandEcuador and in Peru. This series of qualitativechangesis related to evolutionarysociopolitical developmentsin the centralAndes. Chdvin is seen as a pristinestate, linked to the later Huariand Inca empires through their common use of Spondylusand Strombusshells as symbols of the oraclesthat wereimportantintegrative mechanisms in the evolutiontowardlarge-scale societies.

PREHISTORIC CONNECTIONS between various major regions of the Andes are difficult to trace through ceramic relationshipsand similarities,since these resemblances are not constant and are at best ephemeral when viewed through time. A special version of this problem exists in Ecuador:pottery made on the coast shows few consistent ties with ceramicsof the adjacentsierra. There is, however, considerableevidence to indicate that from at least the second, and possibly from as early as the third millenniumbefore Christ,until after the arrivalof the Spanishin A.D. 1532, people on the south coast of Ecuadorwere actively engagedin exporting the shells of the thorny oyster, Spondylus, and of the conch, Strombus, first to highland Ecuador and later to every part of the Peruviansierra and coast. There is now enough fragmentaryevidence of this Andean exchange sphere to be able to trace its gradualexpansion from its early local beginnings into a vast network of long-distanceexchange of regionalspecialitiesthat, after A.D. 1, brought highlandobsidian and Peruviancopper to the Ecuadoriancoast in sufficient quantitiesto make it appearto balancethe massivedistributionof native shell. Although Spondylus and Strombus are both marine mollusks, they occupy slightly different ecological zones: Strombuslives in intertidalwatersclose to the shore;Spondylus,however,clings to reefs 20 to 60 feet below the surface of the ocean, and hence, under aboriginalconditions, can be collected only by experiencednative divers(Fig. 1). Most significantly,both species inhabit only tropical waters, and thus are not to be found alive on the Andeancoast south of the Gulf of Guayaquil. Hence, we know that every one of the many specimens of these shells discovered in the Andeanhighlandsand the Peruviancoast must have been carriedthere from archaeologically its originalhome on the coast of Ecuador(Keen 1958:76, 336; Olsson 1961:152; PresleyNorton, personalcommunication). We can also be quite sure that as early as 100 B.C. the SantaElenaPeninsulaon the south coast of Ecuador must have been a center of this export. All the Spondylus fragmentsdeposited in peninsularmiddensafter that date have had their colored inner marginscut away, while practically no immaturespecimenshave been found there at all. On the other hand, only immatureshells of Spondylus, or the colored portions of mature ones, have been found in highlandEcuadoror in Peru. The evolution of this exchangespherecan be tracedby juxtaposinga numberof separatepieces of informationfrom widely scatteredsourcesand correlatingthem into a broadpicturewhich, like a pointillist painting,can be seen most clearlyfrom a distance,when its total effect transcendsany of its component parts. This geographicallyheterogeneous evidence can be divided into three successivetime periods,each corresponding to an expansionof the exchangearea.Each period also marks a striking change in the sociocultural status and role of Spondylus and Strombus in the Ecuadoriansierraand in Peru. These changes reflect major trends in Andeancommunicationand political evolution. The three periodsare:
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Scm OF NATURAL HISTORY.) MUSEUM (Courtesyof the AMERICAN

Negative287015. Fig. la. The PaintedThornyOysterSpondyluspictorumlower California.

OF NATURALHISTORY.) MUSEUM (Courtesyof the AMERICAN Negative330000. Fig. lb. PinkConchStrombusgigasBahamas.

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A. 2800 to 1100 B.C., when shell from coastal Ecuador was traded only as far as the Ecuadorian sierra; B. 1100 to 100 B.C., when the tradingarea expanded south, and the Ecuadorian shell became entrenchedin the cultureof the centralAndes;and C. 100 B.C. to A.D. 1532, when the total exchange areareachedfrom Quito to LakeTiticaca. The data from each period will be interdigitatedby first describingthe shell assemblage in south coastal Ecuadorand any items of reverseexchangefound there. I shall then cite coeval distribution and the sociocultural context of Spondylus and Strombus in areas away from the Ecuadorian coast. Since the shells often, but not always, occur as an associatedpairin these areas,the presence of either should not be assumedwithout specific mention. Finally, I shall try to assimilateall this diversematerialand attempt to come to some very generalconclusions about the two shells and the implications of their changingroles in Andean prehistory.This concentrationupon items of interregionalexchange may draw attention to economic factors that are not alwaysemphasizedin Andeanstudies. As yet we have little informationabout the specific trade routes, means of transportation,or actual mechanismsof exchange involved in this long-distancemovement of local specialties.The archaeologicaldistribution of Spondylus and Strombus suggeststhat, in general,the main trade routes between coastal Ecuadorand Peru ran along the Andean spine, with secondarypathways branching down the river valleys (Fig. 2). At least one ethnohistorian (Rostworowski 1970) believes that Spondylus in bulk was shipped south to Peru by boat, but there is now no evidence to indicate how early coastal shippingmay have begun. Aboriginal vesselswere entirely capableof makinglong coastal voyages, but the date when such craft were first introducedis still uncertain (Clinton R. Edwards,personalcommunication).They were probablynot in use as early as period A, when contacts between the coasts of Ecuadorand Peru were almost nonexistent. It is also an open question whether cultural factors, and not the availabilityof seaworthy transport,dictated any prehistoric choice between maritime and overland exchange routes (Clinton R. Edwards, personal communication). Finally, it seems only reasonableto suppose that Andean exchange systems, like Andean society itself, underwentfundamentalchangesduringthe evolution from the small-scalelocal communitiesof period A to the enormouspan-Andean empiresof periodC. Thus, we should not assumethat all the featuresof this exchangepatternremainedunchangedduringthe 4000 years of its history. PERIODA: 2800-1100 B.C. Spondylus and Strombussuppliedrawmaterialfor both utilitarianobjects and for ornamentsin the shell assemblage of the Valdivia complex in south coastal Ecuador (Meggers,Evans, and Estrada 1965:37, P1. 21), now dated from 2800 to 1700 B.C. (Betsy D. Hill, personal communication).It is interestingto note that at Loma Alta, the only inlandValdiviasite thus far reported (which dates from Valdivia 1 or 2, [Betsy D. Hill, personalcommunication] ), the only shell objects found were two Spondylus nose rings (Norton 1971) and some beads (Presley Norton, personalcommunication).Even a few kilometersfrom the sea, Spondylus artifactswere exclusivelyornamental. The shell assemblageof the Machalillaoccupation was apparentlynearly identical to that of Valdivia(Meggers,Evans, and Estrada1965:113). Machalilla is believedto date no later than 1100 B.C. (Paulsenand McDougle 1974). At this time, there is no evidence to suggest the presence of tradegoods on the SantaElenaPeninsula. At CerroNarrio,near Cailarin the southernEcuadorian highlands,Spondylus beads,pendants, and figurines were found in levels assigned to Early CerroNarrfo,but not in Late CerroNarrio occupations, leading to the conclusion that during the late occupation there was a decreasein contacts with the seacoast (Collier and Murra 1943:81-82). Unfortunately, these excavations antedated both radiocarbondating methods and the definition of comparablesequencesin related areas, while two more recent appraisalsof the Cerro Narrio material (Lanning 1963:215-219) (Braun 1971) are somewhat at variancein drawinga chronologicalboundarybetween Early and Late levels in terms of the coastal sequence. Nevertheless,the Cerro NarrfoSpondylus probably

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A
Machalilla A
Valdivia A
LA LIBERTAD CHANDU
TUMS

* CA AR

EL OR

*
*TALARA

A uayurco A
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A e'uoAo
A ha vifn A

CHANCAY

PACHACAMAC*

0 PIKILLAQTA

t*PINILLA

A A

O 100

200

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Kilometers

Fig. 2. Location of sites in Ecuador and Peru.

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dates no later than the end of Machalilla,or about 1100 B.C., and some may be considerably older, as Braunhas suggested. No Spondylus or Strombusyet reported from any archaeologicalsite in Peru can be securely dated before 1100 B.C., that is, before the end of the Machalillaoccupation of south coastal Ecuador.However, perhapssuch specimenswill turn up, if similaritiesbetweenMachalilla pottery and certain ceramics from Chavfn de Huantarand Kotosh reflect reciprocaldirect or indirect contacts between the Ecuadoriancoast and the central Andean sierra (Paulsen and McDougle 1974). PERIODB: 1100-100 B.C. The culturalinformation for the south coast of Ecuadorduringthis periodis not yet complete enough to allow a descriptionof its shell assemblage.The only Spondylus thus far reportedis a highly stylized human figurinefound in a late Engoroy burialat La Libertad(Bushnell 1951:94). There is no evidence to suppose that anything of period B on the Peninsularepresentsactual trade from other areas, although one Engoroy site has yielded a sherdin the Cucupampa, or final Huancarcuchustyle from Cuenca (Lanning 1968:42). Obsidianhas not been found in Engoroy contexts (Karen Stothert, personalcommunication),althoughit has been reportedassociatedwith Chorreraceramics,givingrise to a theory that both obsidianchippingand the materialitself were imported from Mesoamerica duringChorrera times. The lack of obsidianin Engoroysites does not support this theory. Moreover, the supposedly Mesoamericanobsidian has been called "as transparentas window glass" (Meggers1966:56), inadvertentlyhelping to confirma widely held contraryopinion that all the obsidianfound archaeologically in south coastal Ecuadorwas brought there from the north Ecuadorian highlands(Wolf 1892:358; Bushnell1951:68). Although Spondylus is absent from Late CerroNarrfo,the export of shell from the Ecuadorian coast continued and the exchange area apparentlyexpanded at this time. Both Spondylus and Strombus, in fact, underwenta major apotheosis and became attached to a centraldivinityat the ceremonial center of Chavin de Huantar in the central Andes. Here the Tello Obelisk, a free-standingstela dating from Chavin C, or about 800 B.C., is covered with a complicated profusion of interrelatedmotifs in low relief that apparentlyembody a shorthandencyclopediaof Chavfncosmology. One of these motifs (Rowe 1967:Fig. 7, A-21) is recognizablya Strombus. Another(Rowe 1967:Fig. 7, A-2)has been identified as a Spondylus(Lathrap1973:96). Each shell is embellished with mythical attributes and is thus to be consideredan intrinsic part of Chavfn iconography. It is especially surprising to find these two mollusks from the coast of Ecuadorin this place and on this sculpture,not only becauseof their remote provenience,but also becauseall the other floral and faunal emblems on the obelisk have been describedas havingemanatedsolely from the Amazon Basin(Lathrap1970:77). The so-called "Smiling God," a later version of the deity representedon the Tello Obelisk (Rowe 1967:84), is carvedin relief on a slab that is also from Chavinde Huantar,but dates from ChavtnD, perhapsa couple of centurieslater (John H. Rowe, personalcommunication).This god is portrayed with only two hagiographicattributes,a Strombusin his righthand and a Spondylus in his left (Rowe 1967:84, Fig. 21). Artifacts made of or representingthe two Ecuadorian molluskshave been found in many Early Horizon sites throughout the central Andes. For example, at Huayurco, a site described as an important manufacturing and tradingcenter west of the bend of the Marafnon, burialsassignedto the Early Horizon contained a necklace embellishedwith a half a dozen flat Spondyluspendants, each carved in the shape of a stylized fish. Strombus trumpets also turned up in these burials (Lathrap 1970:108, P1. 21). On the north coast, the "PickmanStrombus,"engraved in the Chavin style, comes from Chiclayo (Larco Hoyle 1941:88, Fig. 174); at Malpasoon the central coast, a cache of cut Spondylus shells dated between 950 and 650 B.C. was found on the top of a small pyramid (Thomas C. Patterson, personalcommunication).Elsewherein Early Horizon Peru, the body of a "Cupisnique" stirrupspout pot representsa whole Spondylus (LarcoHoyle 1941, Fig. 127), while another(Museumof the AmericanIndian,New York #23/7099) has a body consisting of a pairedSpondylusand Strombus.

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All this indicates that duringthe Early Horizon,Spondylusand Strombuswere elite insigniain ceremonialcenters and in burialsin the sierraand coast of the centralAndes. PERIODC: 100 B.C.-A.D.1532 The Guangalaoccupation of the Santa Elena Peninsula(100 B.C.-A.D.800) and its successor, Libertad (A.D. 1000-1400) are now known in sufficient detail to supply evidence about certain kinds of long-distanceexchange to the peninsuladuringthis period. Pendantsand beads were the only artifacts made of Spondylus in a large and varied Guangalashell assemblagethat included celts, weights,spoons, and nose rings.Strombuswas used only for tools (Bushnell 1951:60-63). Spondylus figurines similar to the one in Bushnell'slate Engoroy burialin La Libertad,and atlatl hooks and pendants of the same materialhave been found in a site assignedto the undated and Evans Jambelfcomplex, located on the coast of El Oro provincein Ecuador(Estrada,Meggers 1964, Fig. 7a, b; Fig. 8a, b; Fig. 9a, b), whose associated intrusives date from no later than Guangala1, or about A.D. 100 (Paulsenn.d.). sites in the Tumbes Interestingly,no shell objects have turned up at the Pechicheor Garbanzal area of northwest Peru (Izumi and Terada 1966:64, 69), nor in coeval levels in the Talaraarea (James Richardson, personal communication). Neither do they occur in Daule and Tejar sites (Meggers1966:83), whose Guangalaintrusivesmay be slightly later than those in Jambelf.This suggests that the exchange route from the Peninsula to the sierra ran east in a fairly narrow corridor. In exchange for the massive amount of native shell exported from the Ecuadoriancoast, the Peninsula now began to receive obsidian and copper. This reciprocal exchange began after Guangala1, or about A.D. 200 (Paulsenn.d.). Obsidianwas not found in a Guangala1 single-phase site at San Pablo (Karen Stothert, personal communication), nor at a Guangala1 workshop at in Pichilingo,near Chanduy(Marcos1970). On the other hand, obsidianscrapersturn up regularly contexts assigned to Guangala2 through 8 (Bushnell 1951:68), while obsidian cores have been found at Real (Bushnell 1951:68) and at a one-phaseGuangala8 site west of La Libertad. Copper appears on the Peninsulafor the first time duringthe Guangalaoccupation, probably 2. A copper needle also after Guangala1, since it has not been found in any level before Guangala (Paulsenn.d.). 3 associations have stratigraphic Palmar at Guangala at Tigre and a copper punch Pins, nose rings, celts, and tweezers, among other Guangalaobjects, are as yet without specific phaseassociations. copper Copperis not native to the Ecuadoriancoast. It has been pointed out that all Guangala artifactsmay have been brought from the highlands(Bushnell 1951:72-74), while spectrographic analysis suggests that copper objects from three areas in coastal Ecuador-Manabi,the Guayas Basin, and the Peninsula-all probably shared a common source which has not been identified (Izumi and Terada1966:69), one (Bushnell 1951:71). Since copper has been found at Garbanzal may infer that copper was more widely distributed than shell in sites around the Gulf of Guayaquil. Certain features of Guangalapottery of Phases 1 through 5 appear to indicate some direct connection with Central America (Paulsen 1971). This simultaneity between Central American similarities and the first appearanceof trade goods on the Peninsula may or may not be a coincidence. Copperis found earliest on the south coast of Peru at the end of the Early Horizon(Lanning 1967:111). Spondylus and copper shareburialand other associationsin Peruduringthe EarlyIntermediate period coeval with Guangala.For example, a burial at Cerro de Trinidadin Chancay,datingfrom Lima 2 to 4 (Patterson 1966:122) and thus roughly contemporary with Guangala2 to 5, contained one whole mature Spondylus shell, smoothed and ground, a necklace of 48 Spondylus beads, and about 200 more formerly sewed to a headdress,some Spondylus necklace spreaders, and a copper-and-gold face mask (Willey 1943:165-166). In fact, all through the Early Intermediateperiod Spondylus was popular along the Peruviancoast in the form of ornaments made from whole immaturespecimens or from the red outside layer of the matureshell (Lanning 1968:42).

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In contrast to the Early Horizon, neither Spondylus nor Strombus are representedin pottery duringthe EarlyIntermediateperiod. In Middle Horizon 2, contemporarywith Guangala6, 7, and 8 (Paulsenn.d.), Spondylus and Strombus continued to be associated together and with copper. In Pinilla, near Ica, a Middle Horizon 2 (Paulsen 1968) burialwas accompaniedby both workedand unworkedSpondylus,and by gold and copper ornaments.A Middle Horizon 2 cache at Pikillaqtain the lower Cuzco valley consisted of "2 valvesof a Spondylusshell, a Strombusshell, and a copper bar"(Menzel 1968:51). Specialnote should be made of a woven hangingfrom Pachacamac, the centralcoast ceremonial center where an important oracle was located duringthe Middle and Late Horizons. One side of this hanging was embellished with a series of whole immatureSpondylus shells, and the reverse with copper ornaments. It was apparentlypart of the ritual paraphernalia surroundinga Middle Horizonwooden figure(Kosok 1965:39) that embodied the physicalpresenceof the oracle. During the Libertad occupation of the Santa Elena Peninsula, contemporarywith the Late Intermediate period in Peru, Spondylus beads continued to be associated with copper at La Libertad(Bushnell 1951:99, 112), but importationof both copper and obsidianprobablytapered off at this time, for both are reportedlyrare (Bushnell 1951:115) and none have been found in Libertad stratigraphictests (Paulsen n.d.). This narrowingof extrapeninsular connections is also reflected in the stylistic affinities of the Libertadpottery style, which has links only as far distant as Mantaand the GuayasBasin. One Libertad sherd has been found in a Sechura site near Talari in northwest Peru (James Richardson,personalcommunication).This sherd is, at present, the only archaeological evidence of tradeby sea between Ecuadorand Peru. A variety of evidence from Inca and early Spanish times, postdating Libertad,helps flesh out the bare bones of this artifactualcensus. The Incas used Spondylus shells, either whole, carved, ground-up,or cut in pieces, as offerings at springs to bring abundantrainfallto newly planted crops (Rowe 1946:249). An early Quechuatext describesthe wrath of a divinity when the Inca did not bringhim a servingof Spondylus, the favoritefood of the gods (Murra,1971). Finally, a single-note trumpet made of a large Strombus shell was used not only as a war trumpet by the Incas, but is still blown rituallyby some Quechuasat certainpoints in the Roman Catholicmass(Rowe 1946:290).
CONCLUSIONS

By arrangingthis fragmentaryevidence in a chronological mosaic more than three thousand years long, we can trace the gradualexpansion of the area of export of Spondylusand Strombus from its beginnings,possibly in Valdfviatimes, until its widest extent early in the Christian era. The Ecuadorianshell already cited from Peruviansites representsonly a small sampleof those finds mentioned in the literature.Whilethe volume of export from Ecuadorcannot be estimated with any precision,we recognizethat it must have been of massiveproportions,since the shells not only accompanied the wide expansion of Chavfn,but had penetratedevery part of the Peruvian sierraand coast by the beginningof the EarlyIntermediateperiod. At their source on the coast of Ecuador,the two kinds of shell were used for tools as well as for ornaments, and they were never a dyadic pair on the coast as they were away from their native habitat. Away from the coast or in Peru, however, Spondylus is almost invariablyprofoundly modified and found in the form of small ornamentsor jewelry or in context suggestingelite or ritual associations.Strombus was not carved or otherwise modified, but it was sometimesincised with ritual themes. Yet the two mollusks were constantly paired at Peruviansites, not only as actual specimens of shell, but also in symbolic representations in sculpturedand ceramicforms. These features of manufacture,usage, and associationsuggest that, althoughthe two species were ritually linked, the importanceof Spondylus lay immanent in the materialitself, while Strombus' role was functional and perhapssubordinate. Until the middle of the second millenniumB.C., Spondylus was traded only as far as Cafiar, where figurinesjoined the previousrepertoireof shell artifacts.At this early period, as throughout subsequentAndeanprehistory,both Spondylusand Strombusare found as exchangegoods only at trade centers situated on major avenuesof communication,reflectingthe attractionof such goods

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to socially heterogeneous redistributivecenters that, almost by definition, contain elite social groups. coast at this Although there is no evidenceof trade flowing reciprocallyback to the Ecuadorian exchange time, we need not assumethat perishablegoods were not exchanged.If this interregional followed patterns noted elsewhere, it could well have taken place in a ritual setting such as has been noted in New Guinea, where such reified surpluschangeshands as a manifest expressionof a latent adaptive function acting to integrate diverse ecological areas and thereby widen the socioculturalbase (Lees 1967). The absence of Spondylus in late levels at Cerro Narrfo may signify that this elite exchange-perhaps even this elite group-had shifted to other areas farther to the south in Peru, where only a short time later Spondylus and Strombus next appearas full-fledgedmembersof an elite ceremonial complex in the major center of Chavin de Huantarin the central Andes. This marks the first appearanceof the Spondylus-Strombusdyad which continued until at least the eighth century A.D. This major shift southwardwent hand in hand with strikingchangesin the culturaltreatment and context of both mollusks in Peru,as well as with a significantadvancein their status: as ritual emblems, their importance now transcended the simple facts of their foreign origin and consequentrarity,althoughsuch considerationsundoubtedlyunderlaymuch of their originalvalue as elite insignia. and socioculturalcontrastsbetween period A and period B also point up the These geographical vast differences in scale between Chavin and all the previous Andean cultures, using the word "scale" as defined by Godfrey and Monica Wilson: "the number of people in relation and the intensity of those relations. .. measuredby the proportion of economic cooperationin the form of ... exchange through trade and reciprocal goods," and of the size and intensity of communicationsin both space and time (Wilsonand Wilson1968:25ff). The dimensionof relative scale can help us put Chavinin its proper perspective,sandwichedchronologicallybetween early small-scaleAndean societies and the late Huariand Inca highly centralizedstates, toward which Chavfnwas the penultimatestep. If phaseC Chavfnmakesexplicit emblematicreferencesto the Pacific coast of Ecuadoras well as to the Amazonian forest on the other side of the Andean sierra, one may well infer that this ideological integrationof diversemarginalareasexpresses the fact that culturalelements from at least two widely separatedregions had been drawn into an evolutionaryvortex in the central Andes, and that from this vortex had emerged the Chavfnart style as the highly visible apex of a vast hidden substructureof somethingvery close to what Friedhas called a "pristinestate" (Fried 1967:231-235). In this process, Spondylus and Strombus from the Pacific coast and a whole congeriesof fauna and flora from the tropical forest were temporarilyconsolidated into an axial joint for a numberof areasby transmitting Chavfnconfigurationthat served as a kind of universal many of their elements differentially, or centrifugally, out to parts of the greaterAndes some distance from their originalsources.After ChavfnC, these ties weakened,Spondylusand Strombus became partly disassociated,many of the other components shown in the ritualconfigurationon the Tello Obelisk vanished or became transformed, and the phase C ritual assemblage was completely disassembled. Pattersonhas suggestedthat the central figure at Chavfnde Huantarmay have been an oracle, first representedby the Great Image of PhaseAB which was thus the first in a line of such oracles that persistedas a continuousstrandin the fabricof Andeanreligionuntil historic times (Patterson 1971:46). Now an oracle is more than a cosmic fortuneteller:such a figure also fulfills multiple functions on many other socioculturallevels. For example, in Ibo groupsin west Africa,in an area where "no political superstructure,such as a federation, a confederacy, or a state existed" (Ottenberg 1958:296), oracles were located in strategic geographicalpositions with regardto contacts with north, south, east, and west, and the oracle pattern "included religious specialists,. . . diviners, medical men and priests, who travelled a considerabledistance outside their own independent units, sometimes making regulartours" (Ottenberg 1958:298). The lbo oracles were also deeply involved in trading systems and facilitating "the distribution of trade

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goods, including food ... and (also) served to redistribute the population from areas of high population to areas of lower density" (Ottenberg 1958:311). Greek oracles, too, were consulted when new colonies were to be established. Oracles have appeared in many complex societies from Mesopotamiato Polynesia, but not many of the circumstances of their originhave been retrievedfrom the preliteratepast. All seem to have developed at a stage in sociocultural evolution when religion was being institutionalized (Gibson 1961:35). We might postulate that a patternof oracleswould be likely to materialize pari passu with increasedpopulation density, growth of social stratification,and the appearanceof a true state. Chavinexhibits all these evolutionarysymptoms. And the continuity proposedfrom the Great Image of Phase AB at Chavin de Huantarthrough the Middle Horizon to the Inca oracles at Pachacamacis further strengthenedby a predictably consistent association between Spondylus, Strombus, and the oracle, reflecting a commensuratelyclose link between Andean economic history and Andeancosmology. If Spondyluswas the visualsymbol of this multiplex pattern,then Strombusmust have providedboth the voice of the oracleand the sound of the deity. One nearly unanswerablequestion remains to be asked. Why were Spondylus and Strombus singled out to express so many layers of socioculturalsignificance?Neither mollusk could have been an item of diet away from the seacoast. The referenceto Spondylus as food of the gods is peculiarlyappropriate:by the time one reachedthe highlands,only a supernatural digestioncould have eaten it and survived. Somewhat lamely one can only say that a combination of exotic provenienceand natural propertiesmust have helped determinethe special status of these tropical shellfish in the central Andes. Strombus is a naturaltrumpet, while the forbiddingprotrusionsof the thorny oyster not only set it apart from other marine mollusks, but are somehow suited to the powerful of the Chavfnstyle. grotesqueries Both animalsare also membersof a pool of biota seeminglyinvested with mythic powers the world around. For example, one of the two objects traded in the Trobriandkula ring was a necklace called soulava,made from beads of Spondyluscollected and fabricatedduringceremonies including the ritual blowing of a Strombus trumpet (Malinowski1961:367-375). AnotherChavin supernatural,the eagle, is also found among the ceremonialmonumentsin Washington, D.C., at the recent end of a genealogy traceableto Bronze Age Greece, when it was a symbol of both the power and an oracle of Zeus. We all know-or hope we know-that these global coincidencesare no more than that.
This paper isa slightly altered version of one presented May 5, 1972 at the 37th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology in Bal Harbour, Florida. Acknowledgments. Clinton R. Edwards, Betsy D. Hill, Donald W. Lathrap, John V. Murra, Presley Norton, Thomas C. Patterson, James Richardson, and Karen Stothert have generously given me comments, criticisms, and access to unpublished data which have been incorporated in this paper. I am solely responsible for any omissions or misinterpretation. Braun, Robert 1971 Cerro Narrio reanalyzed: the Formative as seen from the southern Ecuadorian highlands. Paper read at the Primer Simposio de Correlaciones Antropol6gicas Andino-Mesoamericano, July, 1971, Salinas, Ecuador. To be published in the proceedings of the Symposium. Bushnell, G. H. S. 1951 The archaeology of the Santa Elena Peninsula in south-west Ecuador. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. Collier, Donald, and John V. Murra 1943 Survey and excavations in southern Ecuador. Anthropological Series 35, Field Museum of Natural History. Chicago. Estrada, Emilio, Betty J. Meggers, and Clifford Evans, Jr. 1964 The Jambell culture of south coastal Ecuador. Proceedings of the United States National Museum 1 15(3492):483-558. Washington, D.C. Fried, Morton H. 1967 The evolution of political society. New York.

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Gibson, Ann Judith 1961 Cresmology: a comparative study of oracles. Papers of the Kroeber Anthropological Association 24 (Spring): 1 9-37. University of California, Berkeley. Izumi, Seiichi, and Kazuo Terada 1966 Andes 3: excavations at Pechiche and Garbanzal, Tumbes Valley, Peru. Kadokawa Publishing, Tokyo. Keen, A. Myra 195 8 Sea shells of tropical west A merica. Stanford University Press, Stanford, California. Kosok, Paul 1965 Life, land and water in ancient Peru. Long Island University Press, New York. Lanning, Edward P. 1963 A ceramic sequence for the Piura and Chira coast, north Peru. University of California Publications in Archaeology and Ethnology 46(2): 135-284. Berkeley. 1967 Peru before the Incas. Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs. 1968 Report to the Casa de la Cultura Ecuatoriana, Nucleo de Guayas. Mimeographed. Larco Hoyle, Raphael 1941 Los Cupisniques. Lima. Casa Editora "La Cronica y Variedades," Lima, Peru. Lathrap, Donald W. 1970 T/e upper Amazon. Thames and Hudson, London. 1971 The tropical forest and the cultural context of Chavin. In Dumbarton Oaks Conference on Chavin, edited by Elizabeth P. Benson, pp. 73-100. Dumbarton Oaks Research Library, Washington. 1973 Gifts of the Cayman: some thoughts on the subsistence basis of Chavfn. In Variation in Anthropology, edited by Lathrap and Douglas. Illinois Archaeological Survey. Urbana. pp. 91-106. Lees, Susan H. 1967 Regional integration of pig husbandry in the New Guinea highlands. Paper read to the Michigan Academy of Sciences. Malinowski, Bronislav 1961 Argonauts of the western Pacific. Paperback ed. E. P. Dutton & Co., New York. Meggers, Betty J. 1966 Ecuador. Thames anidHudson, London. Meggers, Betty J., Clifford Evans, Jr., and Emilio Estrada 1965 Early Formative period of south coastal Ecuador: the Valdivia and Machalilla phases. Smithsonian Contributions to Anthropology 1. Washington. Marcos, Jorge G. 1970 Puntas de proyectil bifaciales en la cultura Guangala. Cuadernos de Historia y Arquelogi'a 37 (XX). Publicacion de la Casa de Cultura Ecuatoriana, Nucleo de Guayas. Guayaquil. Menzel, Dorothy 1968 New Data on the Huari empire in Middle Horizon epoch 2A. Nawpa Pacha 2:1-105. Berkeley. Murra, John V. 1971 El trafico de mullu en la costa del Pacifico. Paper read at the Primer Simposio de Correlaciones Antropol6gicas Andino-Mesoamericano, July 1971, Salinas, Ecuador. To be published in the proceedings of the Symposium. Norton, Presley 1971 Notes from a preliminary report on Loma Alta and the implications of inland Valdivia "A." Paper read at the Primer Simposio de Correlaciones Antropol6gicas Andino-Mesoamericano, July 1971, Salinas, Ecuador. To be published in the proceedings of the Symposium. Olsson, Axel A. 1961 Mollusks of the tropical eastern Pacific: Panamic-Pacific pelecypoda. Paleontological Research Institution. Ithaca, New York. Ottenberg, Simon 1958 Ibo oracles and intergroup relations. Southwestern Journal of Anthropology 14:295-315. Albuquerque. Patterson, Thomas C. 1966 Pattern and Process in the Early Intermediate Period pottery of the central coast of Peru. University of California Publications in Anthropology 3. Berkeley and Los Angeles. 1971 Chavin: an interpretation of its spread and influence. In Dumbarton Oaks Conference on Chavi'n, edited by Elizabeth P. Benson, pp. 29-48. Dumbarton Research Library. Washington. Paulsen, Allison C. 1968 A Middle Horizon tomb, Pinilla, Ica Valley, Peru. NawpaPacha 6:1-7. Berkeley. 1971 The Guangala ceramic sequence for the Santa Elena Peninsula and its implications for prehistoric contacts between Ecuador and Central America. Paper read at the Primer Simposio de Correlaciones Antropologicas Andino-Mesoamericano, July, 1971, Salinas, Ecuador. To be published in the proceedings of the Symposium. n.d. A chronology of Guangala and Libertad ceramics of the Santa Elena Peninsula in south coastal Ecuador. Doctoral dissertation, Columbia University.

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Paulsen, Allison C., and Eugene J. McDougle 1974 The Machalilla and Engoroy occupations of the Santa Elena Peninsula in south coastal Ecuador. Paper read at the 39th Annual Meeting, Society for American Archaeology, Washington. D.C. Rostworowski de Diez Canseco, Maria 1970 Mercaderes del valle de Chincha en la epoca prehispinico: un documento y unos comentarios. Revista Espanlolade A ntropologia 5: 13 5-17 7. Madrid. Rowe, John H. 1946 Inca culture at the time of the Spanish conquest. In Handbook of South American Indians 2: the Andean civilizations, edited by Julian Steward, pp. 183-330. BAE Bulletin No. 143. Washington. 1967 Form and meaning in Chavin art. In Peruvian Archaeology: Selected Readings, edited by John H. Rowe and Dorothy Menzel, pp. 72-104. Peek Publications, Palo Alto, California. Willey, Gordon R. 1943 Excavations in the Chancay valley. In Archaeological Studies in Peru: 1941-1942. Columbia Studies in Archaeology and Ethnology 1. New York. Wilson, Godfrey, and Monica Wilson 1968 The analyosis of social change. Paperback ed. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. Wolf, Teodoro 189 2 Geografia ye geologia del Ecuador. Leipzig.