Wari culture

Huari Culture
6th century–10th century
Expansion and area of influence of the Wari Empire around 800 AD
Capital Huari
Common languages Pukina, others.
Religion Andean beliefs (Staff God)
Government unknown
Historical era Pre-Columbian
6th century
10th century
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Tiwanaku culture
Moche culture
Lima culture
Nazca culture
Wari Empire
Today part of  Peru

The Wari (Spanish: Huari) were a Middle Horizon civilization that flourished in the south-central Andes and coastal area of modern-day Peru, from about AD 500 to 1000.[1]

Wari, as the former capital city was called, is located 11 km (6.8 mi) north-east of the modern city of Ayacucho, Peru. This city was the center of a civilization that covered much of the highlands and coast of modern Peru. The best-preserved remnants, beside the Wari Ruins, are the recently discovered Northern Wari ruins near the city of Chiclayo, and Cerro Baul in Moquegua. Also well-known are the Wari ruins of Pikillaqta ("Flea Town"), a short distance south-east of Cuzco en route to Lake Titicaca.


Early on, the Wari expanded their territory to include the ancient oracle center of Pachacamac, though it seems to have remained largely autonomous. Later, the Wari became dominant in much of the territory of the earlier Moche and later Chimu cultures. The reason for this expansion has been debated; it is believed to have been driven by religious conversion, military conquest, or the spread of agricultural knowledge (specifically terrace agriculture).

As a result of centuries of drought, the Wari culture began to deteriorate around 800 AD. Archeologists have determined that the city of Wari was dramatically depopulated by 1000 AD, although it continued to be occupied by a small number of descendant groups. Buildings in Wari and in other government centers had doorways that were deliberately blocked up, as if the Wari intended to return, someday when the rains returned.[2] By the time this happened, though, the Wari had faded from history. In the meantime, the dwindling residents of the Wari cities ceased all major construction. Archaeological evidence shows significant levels of interpersonal violence, suggesting that warfare and raiding increased amongst rival groups upon the collapse of the Wari state structure.[3] With the collapse of the Wari, the Late Intermediate Period is said to begin.


Little is known about the details of the Wari administrative structure, as they did not appear to use a form of written record, but the emphasis on homogeneous administrative architecture and evidence for significant social stratification suggests a complex sociopolitical hierarchy.

The discovery in early 2013 of an undisturbed royal tomb, El Castillo de Huarmey, offers new insight into the social and political influence of the Wari during this period. The variety and extent of the burial items accompanying the three royal women indicate a culture with significant material wealth and the power to dominate a significant part of northern coastal Peru for many decades.[4]


During its expansion period, the Wari state established architecturally distinctive administrative centers in many of its provinces. These centres are clearly different from the architecture of Tiwanaku, which is believed to have been a more federalized state by some scholars (such as John W. Janusek). Using these administrative centers, the Wari greatly influenced the surrounding countryside. They created new fields with terraced field technology and invested in construction of a major road network. Several centuries later, when the Inca began to expand their empire, they drew on both of these innovations.

See also


  1. Susan E. Bergh (2012). Wari: Lords of the Ancient Andes. Thames & Hudson. ISBN 978-0-500-51656-0. Retrieved 31 August 2013.
  2. Wright, Kenneth R.; McEwan, Gordon Francis; Wright, Ruth M. (2006). Tipon: Water Engineering Masterpiece of the Inca Empire. ASCE. p. 27. ISBN 9780784408513.
  3. Tung, TA (2008). "Violence after Imperial Collapse: A Study of Cranial Trauma among Late Intermediate Period Burials from the Former Huari Capital, Ayacucho, Peru". Ñawpa Pacha.
  4. "First Unlooted Royal Tomb of Its Kind Unearthed in Peru". Retrieved 2013-06-30.

Further reading

  • Collier, Simon et al. (Ed.) (1992). The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Latin America and the Caribbean (Second ed.). Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-41322-2. 
  • Wendell C. Bennett, Excavations at Wari, Ayachucho, Peru (1953).
  • Gordon F. McEwan, The Middle Horizon in the Valley of Cuzco, Peru: The Impact of the Wari Occupation of the Lucre Basin (1987).
  • William H. Isbell and Gordon F. McEwan, eds., Huari Administrative Structure: Prehistoric Monumental Architecture and State Government (1991).
  • Katharina J. Schreiber, Wari Imperialism in Middle Horizon Peru (1992).
  • Tung, Tiffiny (2012). Violence, Ritual, and the Wari Empire: A Social Bioarchaeology of Imperialism in the Ancient Andes. University Press of Florida.
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