University of Illinois at Chicago
Reid et al. 2024 Obsidian-procurement-and-exchange-at-the-apogee-of-empire-wari-political-economy-in-arequipa-peru.pdf (1.07 MB)

Obsidian Procurement and Exchange at the Apogee of Empire: Wari Political Economy in Arequipa, Peru

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journal contribution
posted on 2024-04-30, 22:07 authored by David ReidDavid Reid, Patrick Ryan Williams, Augusto Cardona Rosas, Robin Coleman Goldstein, Laure Dussubieux, Cyrus Banikazemi, Kurt Rademaker

During the Middle Horizon (AD 600–1000), obsidian was transported in greater quantities and distances than ever before identified in the Andes, in part by the expansionary Wari state. Two of the three major obsidian sources used in the south-central Andes are located in the modern department of Arequipa, Peru. Arequipa was a region of intense Wari influence and intrusive presence; however, little is known about regional obsidian use. Portable X-ray fluorescence (pXRF) and laser ablation-inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS) were used to analyze 383 obsidian artifacts recovered from 10 archaeological sites in Arequipa. Results highlight diachronic and spatial patterning related to obsidian procurement strategies, state versus bottom-up exchange networks, and local participation within the Wari realm. A wide variety of geological obsidian sources, including nonlocal obsidians originating from Wari’s Ayacucho heartland, were used. By the late Middle Horizon, the Wari had consolidated regional resources with the sole use of Alca-1 and Alca-4 bedrock obsidians, the largest-sized and highest-quality sources in the area. We assess related models of obsidian procurement and exchange related to state political economy, long-distance caravan activity, and the role of local ceremonial/waystation centers that facilitated the flow of ideas, goods, and people across Arequipa.


Publisher Statement

The Author(s), 2024. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of Society for American Archaeology. This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (, which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Reid, D. A., Williams, P. R., Cardona Rosas, A., Goldstein, R. C., Dussubieux, L., Banikazemi, C., & Rademaker, K. (2024). Obsidian Procurement and Exchange at the Apogee of Empire: Wari Political Economy in Arequipa, Peru. Latin American Antiquity, 1–21. doi:10.1017/laq.2023.68


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