Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

Metaphysical Revolutions in the Ancient Andes

Metaphysical Revolutions

Friday, March 10, 2023

12:00pm – 1:15pm

Giddings House, 128 Hope Street, Room 212

Presented by Darryl Wilkinson, Assistant Professor of Religion at Dartmouth College.

It is common in Andean scholarship to use the Inkas as a model for the interpretation of pre-Inka societies. At the same time, our understanding of the Inkas is heavily informed by ethnohistoric and ethnographic studies of colonial-era peoples, especially Quechua-speaking communities.

The difficulty with this approach is that archaeological evidence points to radical discontinuities within the pre-colonial history of the Central Andes, especially in the centuries immediately prior to the rise of the Inkas. Beginning roughly around 900CE, we see profound changes in almost every possible domain (e.g. visual culture, ritual activities, mortuary behavior and settlement patterns etc.).

In this talk, Wilkinson posits a dramatic shift in Andean metaphysics around the 10th Century, one which permeated social realities at every possible level. Although the discipline of archaeology has largely lost its faith in the idea of “revolutions” in the ancient world, he argues that it remains an indispensable concept to our interpretation of the past.