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Revised Moche Chronology Based on Bayesian Models of Reliable Radiocarbon Dates

Michele L Koons, Bridget A Alex


The Moche civilization of the north coast of Peru is thought to be the first state-level society in South America. Understanding of the emergence, spread, and decline of this society, however, has been based almost entirely on relative ceramic phases, rather than absolute dates. This article reevaluates Moche political dynamics and intersite affiliations using radiocarbon dates associated with diagnostic ceramic styles. The phases of ceramic styles at individual sites are estimated using Bayesian models of published 14C dates that have passed explicit selection criteria for reliability. The site-specific phases are incorporated into a regional chronology, which adds additional support to the idea that Moche was a collection of independent polities with complex and nuanced relationships. Based on absolute dates, Moche civilization appears to have spanned between cal AD 200–900, with a significant and socially meaningful increase in stylistic homogeneity between cal AD 600–650.

DOI: 10.2458/56.16919


Moche; Bayesian Models; Peru; Chronology

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