The Middle Horizon period (A.D. 600–1000) was a time of sweeping cultural change in the Andes. Archaeologists have long associated this period with the expansion of the Wari (Huari) and Tiwanaku (Tiahuanaco) states in the south-central Andes and the Pacific coasts of contemporary Peru and Chile.
Tenahaha and the Wari State contains a series of essays that challenge current beliefs about the Wari state and suggest a reassessment of this pivotal era in Andean history. In this collection, a picture emerges of Wari power projected across the region’s rugged and formidable topography less as a conquering empire than as a source of ideas, styles, and material culture voluntarily adopted by neighboring peoples.
Much of the previous fieldwork on Wari history took place in the Wari heartland and in Wari strongholds, not areas where Wari power and influence were equivocal. In Tenahaha and the Wari State, editors Justin Jennings and Willy Yépez Álvarez set out to test whether current theories of the Wari state as a cohesive empire were accurate or simply reflective of the bias inherent in studying Wari culture in its most concentrated centers. The essays in this collection examine instead life in the Cotahuasi Valley, an area into which Wari influence expanded during the Middle Horizon period.
Drawing on ten years of exhaustive field work both at the ceremonial site of Tenahaha and in the surrounding valley, Jennings and Yépez Álvarez posit that Cotahuasinos at Tenahaha had little contact with the Wari state. Their excavations and survey in the area tell the story of a region in flux rather than of a people conquered by Wari. In a time of uncertainty, they adopted Wari ideas and culture as ways to cope with change.