Early Intermediate Highland State: The Wari

Student Blog Post #4: The Wari

Today in class we discussed the emergence of the first Highland States during the Early intermediate time period in South America. In particular in class we focused on the Highland state of Tiwanaku, but we did not discuss the emergence of the highland state called the Wari.

The Wari state was located in the North Western coastal area of the Southern and emerged/ became prominent in the time period of (700 AD -1100 AD). This culture, also known as Huari, apparently had one unique factor that made them stand apart from Tiwanaku… that factor was that they were believed to have been the first culture to use military force to conquer the surrounding civilizations to expand their power and control over the highlands and coast of Modern day Peru. The Wari (Huari) reigned for 400 years, between 600 and 1000 CE, as the largest and most-dominant culture in the Andes until the rise of the Inca centuries later.  Also interestingly enough, apparently the Wari forced other cultures to subdue to them by forbidding any further practice of traditions that were not affiliated with the Wari culture.

The architecture of the Wari consisted of large rectangular shaped buildings that were laid out in strict grid patterns that less resembled most of today’s city block structures. It was also thought that they Wari were impeccable organizers, developers, urban planners, and constructors because they rebuilt on top of old settlements left by earlier civilizations- making them even more grand and prominent.  Probably one of the most known and best preserved remnants, besides the Wari Ruins, are the recently discovered Northern Wari ruins near the city of Chiclayo. These remains are from an entire prehistoric city. The discovery was made by Cesar Soriano in December of 2008. The ruins provided the first evidence of Wari influence found in Northern Peru. The site was remarkably well preserved- probably due to the arid conditions of the desert. The site had evidence of human sacrifice, with special spots set aside and a pile of bones at the bottom of a cliff.

Unfortunately though, it seems that there is little evidence to suggest was the Wari administrative organization was life. Even with this said, the Wari were known for their expansion and for their distinctive administrative centers. It is important to note that these administrative centers were different from the architecture of Tiwanaku. The Wari did not appear to have a type or form of written record, which contributes to the lack of knowledge about the details of the Wari administrative structure. This IS evidence for significant social stratification though, which is indicative of a complex socio-political hierarchy.