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Gallinazo, a culture that flourished on the north coast of Peru from c. 100 bce to 200 ce. The center of the Gallinazo polity was located in the Virú Valley, about twenty-one miles south of the contemporary city of Trujillo. Gallinazo cultural remains are found from the Casma to the Lambayeque valleys, but the culture's contacts and sphere of influence can be seen as far south as the Rimac Valley to as far north as the Piura Valley.

Research suggests that the Gallinazo polity was the first multivalley state in the Andes, and that this state had an urban capital at the Gallinazo Group site in the Virú Valley. The possibility that this polity had a highly organized form of government was first recognized by Gordon Willey, who suggested that during the Gallinazo period the Virú Valley may have attained state-level political organization. This view has been disputed by David Wilson, whose work in the neighboring Santa Valley led him to believe that the succeeding Moche culture was the first state in the region.

Characteristic Gallinazo artifacts include negative, or resist, painted pottery, and handmade redware pots that were decorated with incision, triangular punctuations, appliqué, and notched strips of clay. The most characteristic Gallinazo architecture is large apartment-like complexes that consist of a honeycomb of rooms made of adobe bricks. The structures lack doorways and windows, and were entered through openings in the roof. The architecture that served public functions include adobe pyramids associated with a complex series of rooms including domestic and administrative structures. The administrative architecture has doorways opening onto long corridors. A number of these rooms are decorated with adobe brick mosaics in distinctive geometric designs and/or yellow paint.

During the Gallinazo occupation of Virú, the valley had a highly organized, integrated settlement system, which included a network of fortifications that protected access to the irrigation system and the capital city. The Gallinazo occupation of the Virú Valley marked the largest extension of the irrigation of the valley throughout the prehistory and history of the valley. At the peak of the Gallinazo polity it incorporated the neighboring Moche and Santa Valleys. The Gallinazo occupations of these valleys were also complex settlement systems, with a number of smaller administrative centers that were subordinate to the Gallinazo Group site.

See alsoArchaeology .


Wendell C. Bennett, The Gallinazo Group Virú Valley, Peru (1950).

Gordon R. Willey, Prehistoric Settlement Patterns in the Virú Valley, Peru (1955), and Archaeological Researches in Retrospect (1974), pp. 149-178.

David J. Wilson, Prehispanic Settlement Patterns in the Lower Santa Valley, Peru: A Regional Perspective on the Origins and Development of Complex North Coast Society (1988).

Heidy P. Fogel, "Settlements in Time: A Study of Social and Political Development During the Gallinazo Occupation of the North Coast of Peru" (Ph.D. diss., Yale University, 1993).

                                       Heidy P. Fogel

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