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This article examines the rise of native, segmentary lordships in the highlands of north-central Peru. It reports on new excavations and mapping at the seat of a prehispanic polity, Pashash (Recuay culture), a large hilltop center that developed after the collapse of Chavín civilization. Fieldwork revealed monumental constructions and two special activity contexts radiocarbon-dated to ca. a.d. 200–400: an offering area in a large palatial compound and a room-complex with chambers closed off and sealed with feasting refuse. Multiple lines of evidence help reconstruct a regional picture for the establishment of wealthy local elites. Cultural innovations explicitly link new leaders to roles in defense and warfare, economic production, and early burial cult within a high-status compound. The current data underscore a major break from earlier systems of authority and elite material culture, comprising an organizational pattern that was a precursor to the ethnic polities that predominated in later Andean prehistory.
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