Assessing Warfare in Pre-Columbian Andean South America at the Large Scale

Friday, 13 February 2015: 1:30 PM-4:30 PM
Room LL21E (San Jose Convention Center)
Elizabeth Arkush, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA
Warfare and other social phenomena appear quite different at different space and time scales, and this affects our understanding of causality.  There have long been striking incompatibilities between the explanations for warfare in non-state societies favored by ethnographers and historians, and those emphasized by archaeologists.  This disciplinary crosstalk due in part to differences in the scale of analysis and the data resolution we typically work from; in brief, we have different understandings of the phenomenon to be explained (an individual’s decision to go to war? A single act of collective aggression?  A war? The intensity of warfare in a period, region, or "culture area"? Changes in the nature of warfare associated with major evolutionary transitions, e.g., the adoption of agricultural lifeways, or the collapse of states?).  When analysis can be expanded to a very large space and time scale while still retaining relatively good resolution, we are better able to capture some of the complexities in the workings of causality in warfare.  The core case for visualization and analysis is a GIS database of fortification, settlement patterns, and skeletal trauma rates over time and space in the Andes.