By George F. Lau
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Extra resources for Andean Expressions: Art and Archaeology of the Recuay Culture
Any reconstruction of Recuay settlement, land use, and landscapes must take these alterations, as well as their potential and perception, into account. L a n d a n d settLem en t i n a nCi en t a nCa sh l 37 Regional Settlement Systems Until recently Recuay settlement systems were virtually unknown outside of research done within coastal valleys, along the western limits of the culture. Over the last decade, however, intensive work has been done in different parts of highland Ancash, which elucidates what types of settlements existed, where they were located, and when and for what they were used.
Despite its richness (figural representations of human and animals, activities, multiple media), Recuay iconography remains one of the least understood of the major Andean art styles. The chapter highlights elements and conventions that help reconstruct highland perceptions of social roles and status, the afterlife, and divinity. It draws from the ethnohistorical literature, especially concerning religious practices in the Andean highlands, to shed light on the behavioral and cosmological implications of Recuay materials.
They note how villages in Huánuco located at 3,450 masl could only grow potatoes in sheltered areas below the village elevation; zones near 3,500 masl were avoided because they were frost-prone grasslands, whereas today a greater range of cultigens are grown and agriculture is practiced in areas far above this elevation. Historical evidence indicates that, with the amelioration associated with warming temperatures, cultivation occurs commonly as high as 4,000 masl in Huánuco and Ancash. These records as well as observations of relict plots as high as 4,300 masl suggest that the upper 34 l L a n d a n d settLem en t i n a nCi en t a nCa sh limits of agriculture have fluctuated between at least 400 and 700 meters between the lows of the Little Ice Age and the warm climes of the twentieth century (Cardich 1985: 304–306).