FAU professor discovers evidence of early complex societies in Peru

Among the discovered artifacts are deep-sea fishing hooks and intricately woven baskets.


A view of Huaca Prieta, a prehistoric settlement that sits on Peru’s Pacific Ocean coastline. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Benjamin Paley, News Editor

An archeological excavation is a painstaking process, but the results are worth the work.

Harbor Branch archaeology professor James M. Adovasio was among a group of archaeologists in Peru who discovered artifacts indicating early humans in the area were more advanced than originally believed.

According to an FAU press release, the excavation was conducted between 2007-13 in the prehistoric settlement site known as Huaca Prieta in coastal Peru. The scientists involved uncovered hundreds of thousands of artifacts, some of which were “intricate and elaborate hand-woven baskets.”

Adovasio said that the baskets were more complex than they needed to be at the time, which he claims points to early humans’ desire to show social stature. He believes that they “were engaged in very complicated social relationships” and that early society in the area was much more sophisticated than previously thought.

Various tools involving hooks were excavated as well, which, according to the release, demonstrate that this population pursued deep-sea fishing using boats built to withstand choppy waters.

“These strings of events that we have uncovered demonstrate that these people had a remarkable capacity to utilize different types of food resources,” Adovasio said. “[This] led to a larger society size and everything that goes along with it such as the emergence of bureaucracy and highly organized religion.”

The scientists involved were led by Tom D. Dillehay, Ph.D., principal investigator and a Vanderbilt University anthropologist. The excavation results will be published later this summer in a book by the University of Texas Press.

Dillehey and Adovasio plan to return to Peru a year from now to further analyze the excavated baskets.

Benjamin Paley is the news editor of the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet him @benpaley92.