Synecdochal Ontologies at the Late Moche Site of Huaca Colorada, Peru
Archaeological research can only proceed by arranging parts to form a whole, and conversely to deconstruct wholes through an analysis of their parts, following a philosophy known as mereology. Similar to archaeological inference, the Moche equated human bodies and built spaces as partible actors that combined to form an integrated whole. This worldview was likely based on an ontology that has been described as “synecdochal” by Andeanists. In other words, deep-seated dispositions on the interchangeablility and partibility of various beings point to a mereological logic specific to the Moche. The ritual recreations of the monument thus resulted in an “archaeological record” readily amenable to interpretation. However, we argue that ontology alone fails to explain rituals of architectural renovation and human sacrifice documented at Huaca Colorada (AD 650–850); the application of other etic categories, including ideology, epistemology, and philosophy are required to more fully interpret such complex practices.
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