A day in the life of a Peruvian shaman - Gabriel Prieto
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Gramalote, where the fictitious character “Quexo” lived, was a 3500 years old maritime community which based its economy in an extended household system, in which surplus is only produced when it is needed to fill social obligations with other households or to profit during regional fairs or market places organized around the inland ceremonial centers. Men were brave fishermen who mostly hunted blue sharks for their daily consumption. In addition, the women of the community could have made frequent trips around the valley to exchange their marine products for other food products and objects needed for daily life. These people did not have an “institutionalized” or imposed religion or political force at Gramalote. In extended religious systems like the Catholic church or the Islam, specific rules and rituals need to be followed during official celebrations, funerary services or even in household rituals.
There is no evidence of a differentiation in social scale within the community. It seems that all the inhabitants, though specialized in the exploitation or manufacture of specific products, had plentiful access to daily objects and even “exotic” products such as cinnabar pigment. On the other hand, the presence of multiple ritual caches within their houses suggests that there was a sort of libertatem exercere for domestic rituals among the Gramalote residents. These ritual caches comprise shark, fish, shellfish and sometimes plants, indicating that Gramalote inhabitants used the most economically important food resources as offerings in their cult. Thus, it is possible that domestic rituals were performed to guarantee food resources critical to the village’s economy.
Gramalote was a dynamic, free and constantly changing domestic settlement. Instead of consisting only of specialized fishermen, Gramalote can be seen as having a marine-oriented subsistence economy with a high degree of sub-specialization within the community. The inhabitants were also engaged in specialized domestic industries. Both marine products and non-subsistence products such as gourds, basketry, shell beads and red pigment suggest an extensive interaction between this community and others located in different parts of the valley.
Today, we do not know much about the economy of the so-called “farming” communities in the valley, but they most likely manufactured a wide range of non-subsistence products such as ceramic vessels, stone bowls and tools, anthracite mirrors, and fine textiles. This surplus of food and manufactured products created at the household level in various domestic settlements were the source of frequent economic interchange and social interaction between different kinds of residential sites.
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