The Evolution of Authority and Power at Chavín de Huántar, Peru:

John W. Rick

The Early Horizon type site of Chavín de Huántar, located in the north-central Andes of modern Peru, is distinguished by a long sequence of construction, as well as outstanding features such as abundant lithic art, use of cut stone in construction, a complex of underground gallery systems, and exceptional alteration of local land forms. This chapter explores the implications of these characteristics for the evolution of power and authority at this site across the later Initial Period and Early Horizon (approximately 1300 to 600 B.C.). Particular attention is focused on the concepts of power and authority in relation to religious belief systems and the intrinsic factors that might have connected the site's characteristics to a developing system for convincing populations to increasingly accept the dominance of a priestly leadership. These characteristics argue that not only were the emerging authorities at Chavín exceptionally creative in their manipulation of the human mind through landscape, architecture, images, sound, light, and the use of psychoactive drugs but also that this apparent highly planned ritual context demonstrates the very intentional and conscious strategies employed in the transformation of early politico-religious organization.