Chavín De Huántar
An Introduction by James Q. Jacobs
Chavín was once compared to the Olmecs and depicted as the Mother Civilization of the Andes. The term Chavín has been applied to a developmental stage of Andean history, to an archaeological period, to an art style and to a hypothetical empire. Chavín has been interpreted as a culture, a civilization and a religion.
The idea of a Chavín horizon was proposed by Julio Tello. In the 1930s Tello claimed that Chavín was Peru's oldest civilization. His definition of a pan-regional Chavín culture included attributes of ceramics, architecture and sculpture. The incorporation of sites with some Chavín characteristics eventually led to a perceived culture spanning two millennia and reaching from Ecuador to Argentina. Tello's criteria has since been narrowed and recent research, especially radiocarbon dating, has refined understandings of Chavín and regional site relationships.
In the 1960s John Rowe's Andean chronology defined the Early Horizon as the time beginning with the first appearance of Chavín influence in Ica. This arbitrary criteria requires a definition of Chavín influence and a clear understanding of the Chavín style horizon. The style can be unevenly documented on the coast from Lambayeque to Ica, and from Pacopampa to Ayacucho in the highlands. Adhering to Rowe's definition presents some problems. For one, new dates at Ica might change the Andean chronology. And, as has been subsequently determined, it also means that Chavín influence precedes the first sculptures at Chavín, the content of which defines the style, and precedes Chavín itself.
(read the rest of the article by James Q. Jacobs at http://www.jqjacobs.net/andes/chavin.html)
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