Date of Award

Fall 12-18-2015

Level of Access Assigned by Author

Open-Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Interdisciplinary Program


Daniel H. Sandweiss

Second Committee Member

Daniel F. Belknap

Third Committee Member

Luis Jamie Castillo

Additional Committee Members

Alice R. Kelley

Joseph Kelley

Jeffrey Quilter

Gregory Zaro


This doctoral dissertation presents the results of archaeological and geoarchaeological studies carried out at the site of Los Morteros and the Archaeological Complex of Pampa de las Salinas, lower Chao Valley, North Coast of Peru, between September 2012 and July 2014. This research focuses on the study of the mound-shaped site of Los Morteros and the environmental contexts in which this site developed. Previous excavations at the site considered Los Morteros as a “stabilized dune” whose top was used as cemetery for pre-pottery people around cal. 5000 B.P (Cardenas 1995, 1999). However, geo-radar explorations of the mound in 2006 and 2010 (Sandweiss et al. 2010) showed evidence of architecture of considerable dimensions covered by thick layers of eolian sand which would pre-date the remains reported by Cárdenas. This research demonstrates that Los Morteros is not a natural feature but an artificial mound that was built through complex processes that include architecture and possible intentional formation of a mound-shaped structure by harnessing natural forces of eolian deposition. The data indicate that Pampa de las Salinas was an important focus of social development during the Preceramic Period.

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