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The Archaeology of Wak'as: Explorations of the Sacred in the Pre-Columbian Andes
De Santiago Matamoros a Santiago-Illapa. Herrera, A. Ibarra Ascencios, B. Bioarchaeology of Ancash.
Retrieved from Lima: Isbell, W. Austin: University of Texas Press. Kaulicke, P. Lima: Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Peru. Environmental Archaeology, 9, Lane, K. PhD , University of Cambridge, Cambridge. Through the Looking Glass: Re-assessing the role of agro-pastoralism in the north-central Andean highlands. World Archaeology, 38 3 , World Archaeology, 41 1 , Insoll Ed.
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Tucson: University of Arizona Press. Renfrew, M. Morley Eds. Lyman, R. Vertebrate Taphonomy. MacCormack, S. Their writings form the point of departure for our understanding of the concept as well as one of the principal reasons why an "archaeology of wak'as" is so necessary. In the earliest references, which date to the latter half of the sixteenth century, the notion of wak'a was typically construed in material terms van de Guchte — The need to employ two or more Spanish terms in attempts to capture the meaning of "wak'a" points to significant ontological differences regarding understandings of matter and materiality among Andeans and Europeans see Mannheim and Salas, this volume.
The notion of wak'a-as-oratory entailed spatial fixity, while wak'a-as-idol suggests a degree of motility. This combination of properties e. What the chroniclers seem to have struggled with was the apparently partible nature of wak'as — that is, the ability of a presumed material entity to be simultaneously spatially fixed and spatially as well as temporally distributed and distribute-able see Chase, this volume.
In this sense, the "wholeness" of wak'as seems to have extended beyond their corporality or materiality to encompass the broader field of relations within which they were embedded — an aspect that may, in fact, have figured into their "holiness. As the religious extirpators learned of ever more entities that were classified as wak'as, their definition of the term broadened even if their comprehension did not. Albornoz [ — 85] — 97 , for instance, compiled a long and seemingly disparate list of phenomena considered to be wak'as that included aphrodisiacal flies and birds, places where lightning had struck, ancestral mummies, local pacariscas origin points on the landscape , ushnus, mountain passes, replicas of plants, bezoar stones, and the hallucinogen known as vilca, among other things.
In his treatise on the Inka, the mestizo writer Garcilaso de la Vega  — 73 sought to correct what he perceived to be a biased and bungled understanding of Andean wak'as MacCormack — Like Albornoz, he attempted to convey the meaning of the term by first enumerating the kinds of things considered as such by native peoples.
He initiated his discussion by stating that "wak'a" referred to "sacred thing," be it idol, object, or place, through which "the devil spoke" Garcilaso de la Vega  His list included "rocks, great stones or trees," as well as things made, such as "figures of men, birds, and animals" offered to the Sun, as well as places built, such as "any temple, large or small, It also included things of extraordinary beauty or ugliness, and exceptional phenomena or occurrences — such as twins or ancestors.
After listing the range of phenomena encompassed by the term, Garcilaso went on to state that the Inka called these things wak'as "not because they held them as gods or because they worshiped them but rather for the particular advantage they provided the community" ibid. This is an important point that hints at an understanding of wak'as as having the capacity for personal interaction and the performance of beneficial acts — in other words, as having agency.
The communicative aspect and the ability to speak included in Garcilaso's definition are also key. In the first category were natural things that differed in some significant way from other members of the same class, often in terms of size, shape, or genesis. Examples would include a peculiarly shaped potato, an exceptionally large tree, or an individual marked by a birth defect ibid. In the second category were statues and images made in the close likeness of the thing they represented, consisting mainly of miniature replicas of plants, animals and people ibid.
With respect to these idols, the priest noted that they " were worshiped for their own sake " and that "the people never thought to search or use their imaginations in order to find what such idols represented " Cobo  ; emphasis added. Cobo seems to suggest that native people understood wak'as as powerful in and of themselves — not as the containers of unearthly or supernatural divinities but rather as efficacious agents in their own right.
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