This result was achieved through excavations carried out at the end of 2022 as part of the La Puntilla Archaeological Research Project by a research team from Barcelona Autonomous University. Since 2005, the team has been conducting fieldwork in the El Trigal sites, along the Aja River, on the northern slope of the La Puntilla mountain range. This archaeological area is close to the community of Orcona (Nasca province, Ica department, Peru).

Since 2012, excavations have focused on El Trigal III, where a settlement from the Cahuachi State period, from the 1st to the 4th century AD, had been discovered. This corresponds to the geoglyphs with animal figures known as the Nasca Lines. In 2021, excavations of the North Enclosure began, and in 2022, it was confirmed to be a building from a later period, specifically from the Wari State era. Pending confirmation of dates through carbon dating, it is estimated to date between the 7th and 10th centuries AD.

The Wari State had its center in the city of Wari, located in the Andean highlands, in the Ayacucho department of Peru. From the 7th century onwards, it expanded its political control from that region to territories in the highlands and the coast, extending to northern Peru. This political expansion is considered an empire, marked by significant military activity in territorial conquest, as well as alliances and agreements with dominant groups from different regions, such as the Nasca Valley.

The North Enclosure of El Trigal III was about 130 square meters and constructed with large stone walls supporting adobe walls. It had two floors, given the thickness of the walls and the volume of the debris found. The walls were plastered in white and yellow, due to remnants adhering to the stones that formed the architectural material. On the ground floor, which has been preserved, there is evidence of food preparation and storage activities.

In addition to this building, there was a large space formed by a courtyard with small rooms for storage, still in the excavation process, within the so-called South Enclosure. This enclosure reached over 500 square meters and was delimited by large stone walls.

This type of architectural complex had not been documented in extensive excavations until now. However, a ceramic model with the same configuration had been known from a burial site in Ayacucho. The creation of models indicates that the construction was planned in advance, a characteristic also observed in the case of territorial control centers where the Wari Empire placed warehouses for the tributes collected from communities in controlled regions.

The El Trigal III settlement represents a new type of rural enclave in Wari territory, likely owned by a group of the imperial ruling class. Through forced labor, they could manage various artisanal tasks, food preparation, and maintenance of warehouses in the house and its annexes. They likely also engaged in agricultural work in the lands of the Aja River valley. In the Wari State era, political centers like the city of Wari, territorial centers in different regions, establishments with unique buildings of absidal shape—likely for political and religious use—and a large number of burials, often with unclear contexts but containing funerary items from that period, are well known. However, the settlement discovered by the La Puntilla Project corresponds to a small rural location, albeit with a significant architectural investment, probably because it was inhabited by members of the upper class.

The 2022 campaign at El Trigal, led by Pedro V. Castro-Martinez of UAB and Trinidad Escoriza-Mateu of the University of Almería, was funded by the Ministry of Culture and Sports as part of the Archaeological Projects Abroad program, the PALARQ Foundation, and the FUNECOAN R&D project (HAR2017-86431-P) of the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness and the State Research Agency, with FEDER co-financing. It also received support from the Spanish Embassy in Peru.

An overview of the results has just been published in the journal Reports and Works, No. 21, of the Cultural Heritage Institute of Spain, and it will also be presented at the 10th National Congress of Archaeology in Peru, starting on November 28.

As part of the Congress, the Cultural and Scientific Affairs Council of the Spanish Embassy in Peru will launch the Yachay web portal, an archaeology page created as a showcase of the work in this field by Spanish research and entities in Peru, alongside specialists from Peru, in the many archaeological sites of value in the country.

The portal will include a virtual exhibition of the La Puntilla Project results from 2005 to 2022, as well as the progress of research in the Caral Archaeological Zone (Supe), on the northern coast of Peru. These are the two lines of work that led to the creation of this web portal, which aims to include other research by Spanish archaeologists in Peru in the near future.


Sources

Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona | “Proyecto La Puntilla (Nasca, Ica, Perú), 2018-2022. Los asentamientos de El Trigal III”. Informes y Trabajos, nº 21, Págs. 79-94 / ISSN: 2444-8087. Instituto de Patrimonio Cultural de España.


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