In 2002, archaeologist Peter Kaulicke declared carved bone objects from the Peruvian Formative Period (1500-200 BCE) to be a “neglected subject” in Andean archaeology. This was largely due to a lack of unity in their definition. From flutes to spoons, the bones could take any number of forms and frequently featured such high levels of detail that even a superficial understanding of their imagery was almost impossible.
Enjoy afternoon tea and scones as Art History graduate student Brooke Luokkala discusses her research on a small group of carved works called ‘Chavín bones,’ presumedly named for their connection to the early ritual site of Chavin de Huantar. As she attempted to answer the question, “What is a ‘Chavín bone’?,” her research expanded to consider a greater same of Formative Period bone works. She will discuss her efforts to gather data across a variety of collections of ancient Andean bones, the species represented, and the methods used to carve them in order to elucidate patterns in artistic practices in the ancient Andes, research undertaken with the belief that materials matter, and the artists who crafted these works were intimately familiar with the sometimes-fleshy origins of their materials and the intended forms of their skeletal products.