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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Peanuts and prestige on the Peruvian North Coast : the archaeology of peanuts at Huaca Gallinazo (V-59) and Huaca Santa Clara (V-67). Masur, Lindi Jaclyn


This thesis explores the role that a single species of plant, the peanut (Arachis hypogaea), played in pre-Hispanic North Coast communities of the Andes. Through a literature review of ethnohistoric accounts, Moche iconographic interpretation, and nutritional analysis, I explore the symbolic importance of the peanut, as well as other special properties that may have contributed to peanuts’ luxury status in the pre-Hispanic North Coast. This study documents the peanut’s use not only as a comestible, but also as a prestige good used in competitive feasts and for veneration of the dead. I show how the peanut was used both practically and symbolically in order to create and reify status differences between elites and commoners, and how this trend extends into the South Coast. Finally, I provide evidence for peanuts’ prestige association through a case study of the archaeobotanical remains from Huaca Gallinazo (V-59) and Huaca Santa Clara (V-67), two important Early Intermediate Period sites located in the Virú Valley and that were part of the Virú polity.

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