The Formative Period

© Alvaro Higueras

Definition In this period, all the religious iconography that was growing amidst the societies that built U-shaped temples, known as the Cupisnique societies on the north coast and north highlands, spreads to the Central Andes producing a first stylistic "horizon" in the Andes [a horizon is a period of pan regional homogeneity; there will be two more in Andean prehistory in which political domination is at play]. The main center for the radiation of the religious iconography of the feline seems to have been Chavín de Huantar, in the central highlands. At its apogee by 600 BC, at a time when the large monumental centers of the North Coast are much reduced in size, Chavín seems to gather pottery offerings from many regions of the Andes, reflecting its pilgrimage site status.

It is suggested that the societies of the Formative Period represent the final stage of social and political evolution before the appearance of early state societies in the next period. While Formative societies will not be large and complex societies, nor control large territories, the implications of the dissemination of religious cults throughout the Andes have important consequences for trade and exchange, creating closing links between populations of different regions.

Time frame After the Initial Period and before the Early Intermediate Period.
Location of sites
Links to other periods
Preceramic Period Initial Period Early Intermediate Period
Middle Horizon Late Intermediate Period Late Horizon
Andean and Tiwanaku Archaeology Page