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Corporate Strategy as an Art (XVII): The Pre-Inca cultures between 3,000 BCE to 1,000 BCE. (The Americas Part C).

We decided to dedicate an entire post to the South American villages thriving between the 3,000 to 1,000 BCE. Why? Simply because every article I publish has a maximum number of words. If we communicate excessively, we dilute the word of advice of each article, and since I am a corporate strategy advisor, I have learned that it is better to stop before moving to a highest level of instruction. Every time I publish, I always conceived it as an advisory drill.  (Those who swim will capture this notion immediately). Ultimately, this is the last publication about the Bronze Age too. Next week we are going to the Iron Age (Old World) again.

Let´s start. Meanwhile, the Egyptians and Mesopotamians were fighting for territory, expanding, creating mega-ouvres of art, using copper-bronze or devoting resources to write and learn about the stars and galaxies, the South American tribes were also doing their own. At their own pace. Archaeologists have divided South America by region. The Northern Andes and the central-Southern Andes.

Northern Andes Region (3,000 BCE – 1,000 BCE).

Northern Andes CulturesThe Northern Andes has provided vestiges in several areas, particularly ceramic remains. According to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, between the 3,000 BCE and 1,000 BCE, at the area where Ecuador is located right now, Real Alto was discovered. Real Alto is an archaeological site located in southwest Ecuador’s Chanduy Valley. Real Alto is associated with the artistically precocious Valdivia culture, which flourished on the coast of Ecuador ca. 3300–1500 B.C.E. As you have already observed the pattern from this timeline period, the Ecuador ancestors decided to settle near the fertile agricultural lands of the Río Verde. Archaeologists believe this site is situated on top of one of the two highest points in the valley, possibly providing the inhabitants of Real Alto with protection against flooding during Ecuador’s heavy rain season. Archaeological evidence suggests that Real Alto’s regionally dispersed community actively engaged in agriculture, long-distance trade, and craft specialization, including ceramic production, spinning and weaving, and stone-tool manufacturing.


Some of the Valdivia Figurines

The Real Alto city evolved to become a regional center by 2,500 BCE. Archaeologists have found a central plaza and probably other buildings. In addition, as religion played an important role in the idiosyncrasy and living organization of this society, there are a couple of mounds with evidence of large-scale ritual feasting and mortuary activity. The population houses were oriented around the central plaza. It is in this region that archaeologists have found figurines, called the Valdivia Figurines. See the pictures below:

“Valdivia figurines have been found in a variety of contexts at Real Alto, from burials of important personages to refuse piles on house floors. The majority of them, however, have been found near hearths and food preparation areas—activities traditionally associated with women. Based upon these features, the figurines are most often interpreted as fertility figures, though their precise purpose remains unknown”.

Ecuador cultura-info-piezas

Artistic  Archaeological Vestiges from Ecuador. Source: El Telegrafo

Another culture from the Northern Andes is Machalilla, was located partially at the south coast of Ecuador (currently Manabi and Santa Elena provinces). The Machalilla flourished between the 1,800 BCE to 1,000 BCE. Again Machalilla was an agriculture-based society that left ceramics remains. The Machalilla artwork was swapped as far north as Mexico and Further south into Peru, which indicates that there was trading (exchange of goods) in between these cultures.

The Machalilla practiced intentional cranial deformation on the skulls of young children until the bones actually maintained a pointed shape, a fact well-documented by human remains and in examples of their pottery. Why did these cultures practice such deformations? Some archaeologists have already seen the pattern from different art expressions of various origins. And the explanations diverge. My own interpretation of the cranial deformations is that maybe they craved to expand the place of the brain to enhance intelligence, or as other experts have inferred it was a stamp of nobility or high-end exclusivity. Whatever the cause, these ancient tribes knew the relationship between intelligence and the brain or the head. The brain is in our head, and the capacity to think, design, foresee, create or destroy comes from there. By expanding the place of the brain, or building headstones, they wanted to tell us how brightest or capable they were in relation to their Gods. I will leave the Ecuadorian Chorrera Culture and the northern Colombian Cultures (Early Gulf of Urabá and Malambo, Early Calima and Early San Agustin) when we return to explore the corporate strategy between the 1,000 BCE and year Zero of our Christian Era.

Central and Southern Andes Civilizations between the 3,000 BCE -1,000 BCE.  

Archaeology-of-the-Central-Andes-paul Haggerty

Archaeology of the Central Andes- Previous to the Inca Empire. By Paul Haggerty

There is archaeological evidence that human settlements were developing in this region too. Thus, these Central and Southern Andes Cultures are of relevant study, because all of them are the predecessors of the Inca´s Empire, one of the most interesting civilizations of the Americas. The Inca Civilization, in conjunction with the Mayas and the Aztecs, are the three crucial civilizations that we will explore further once we arrive at the timeline of their substantial presence in Latin America.

In relation to the pre-Incas cultures, the archaeologists have classified them by descriptive terms as follows:

  1. The Late Preceramic,
  2. the Initial (or Lower Formative) Period,
  3. the Early Horizon,
  4. the Early Intermediate Period,
  5. the Middle Horizon,
  6. the Late Intermediate Period,
  7. and the Late Horizon (also called the Upper Formative, or Inca Period).

If you wish to know about a complete chronology of events of the Central-Southern Andean Cultures, please click here: The MET Heilbrunn Timeline Art History South America, 2000–1000 B.C.E.

Today we will explore only the cultures which flourished the most (or the ones that archaeologists have found more information to this day) between 3,000-1000 BCE which match to the Late Preceramic Period, the Initial and the Early Horizon periods. These are the Kotosh Culture, the Capisnique Culture, and the Chavin Cultures.


Kotosh, Temple of the Crossed Hands. Peru.

The Kotosh culture. Kotosh, “is a pre-Columbian site, near the modern city of Huánuco in present-day central highland Peru, known for its early temple structures. These earliest buildings, some of which have interior wall niches and mud-relief decorative friezes, date to the end of the Late Preceramic Period (c. 2000–1800 BCE). The site also contains remains of later cultures in the area. The Initial Period is represented by overlying temple structures and a style of pottery known as the Wairajirca. These buildings and ceramics are, in turn, overlain by Chavín materials (Early Horizon; 1000–400 BC). The archaeologists have found remains at the Temple of the Crossed Hands, a large square building with mud reliefs of crossed human arms in an interior chamber. This temple belongs to  Kotosh in the north-central Andean highlands.  Objects of baked clay are associated with the temple; fired clay bowls appear at the site about 200 years later.

Cupisnique Culture. “Rich burials placed in the Cupisnique Quebrada (ravine) between the northern Peruvian valleys of Chicama and Jequetepeque include numerous ceramic stirrup-spout vessels of distinctive, sculptural style.

Cupisnique has given its name to the cultural developments of this period on the wider north coast. Watch the following video about a Feline Head Bottle from Cupisnique (15th-5th Century B.C.E) from the Met Museum Archaeologists  Dr. Sarahh Scher and Dr. Steven Zucker.

The Chavin Culture. The Chavín culture in Peru is thought to have been primarily a religious movement. Chavin de Huantar was an important ritual center for Chavin Culture, dating to around 1,500 BCE. The culture apparently began in the Andes highlands and then spread outward throughout the country. The Chavín culture has very distinctive art styles, particularly in effigy pots, a number of which were in feline shapes.

I also would like to add that regardless of any of the latter cultures from the north, central or southern Andes, the Textiles were the foundation craft in the Andes and appeared well before any ceramic tradition. Cotton was part of their plantations. There are plenty of examples of this rich textile tradition within the Chavin culture. The Chavin culture evolved to become the Paracas. There is evidence in the Paracas mummy bundles, consisting of many heavily embroidered mantles, preserved by the dry climate. This has provided a wealth of preserved embroidery fragments to our times.

According to Encyclopedia Britannica, all these cultures in common cultivated gourds, squash, cotton, lucuma. There is archaeological evidence of these seed plants. Quinoa and amaranth were cultivated in the Ayacucho Basin before 3000 BC; corn and beans came within the next millennium. There were also ground stone implements for milling seeds. It has been claimed that llamas and guinea pigs were domesticated.

As a conclusion, what was the corporate strategy of all the Andean ancient civilizations?

By reading and observing their artistic and architecture remains, I believe these cultures leaders were trying to organize their populations living with certain standards, by establishing a certain rule of order. This rule of order was anchored to the deities of nature which granted their sources of food and wealth. In addition, the leaders of these incipient economies were busy balancing and trading their local and external resources. Since agriculture was their main economic activity, the surplus of it has to be exchanged for those inputs or raw materials they did not have. The pottery was a useful art inherent to their lifestyle. They needed recipients to save liquids (water or other beverages), recipients to cook, recipients to offer sacrifices. Religious activities were linked to their economic stability and organic agribusiness or cultivation y.o.y (Year over Year) results. The big concern for the Andean Civilizations happened with climate change. The issue arising from how to manage the weather and earth uncertain changes (sun, rain, floods, etc) they couldn´t control. The attribution of the power was set in accordance to those factors. That is why we repeatedly see their major engineering and architecture temples as a tribute to the gods of the rain, sun, and fertility (giving birth-life).  These cultures recognized better than us, or as we know nowadays, how important was the agriculture to survive, and they tried to keep the land “happy” by honoring the deities and the people who were leading the agribusiness balance and rule of order of their societies. They adapted their lifestyle to the climate and their core corporate strategy was to provide a mental framework of the effectiveness of the protection of the land and their resources from external roots they couldn´t restrain.  These roots of instability were the climate change,  other cultures (other groups of people), death, famine, diseases and other dangerous animals living in their same habitat.

Animals were external sources of power against them. They feared those species they couldn´t control (such as jaguars, snakes, or other poison-dangerous species). And again I believe they gave these animal species a reason to become Gods. Probably,  the smartest leaders with better brains (the most innovative, brightest or clever individuals who offered solutions to their problems) were also conceived as Gods. That is why priests were also formed as Gods or as advisors to their Nature Gods, in their quest to explain their agribusiness ecosystem better.

This is all about the Corporate Strategy based on the Bronze Age Art analysis. Next week we will start with the Iron Age of the Old World or the timeline history period between 1,000 BCE to the year Zero of the Christian Era.

Thank you for your patience.bee

Sources of reference utilized to write this publication:

Disclaimer: All the presentation slides shown on this blog are prepared by Eleonora Escalante MBA-MEng. Nevertheless, all the pictures or videos shown on this blog are not mine.  I do not own any of the lovely photos or images posted unless otherwise stated.

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