Document Type



Ethnohistoric sources suggest that the indigenous inhabitants of Andean South America saw both people and things as animated or enlivened by a common vital force (camaquen). In approaching the subject of camaquen archaeologically, I attempt to place objects and their materiality at the analytical center, rather than the normally privileged ethnohistoric or ethnographic data, in order to see what new insights into the nature of precolumbian ontologies might be gained from ‘thinking through things.’ In this, I follow recent theories premised on the idea that the traditional segregation of concepts and things may hinder understanding of alternative worlds. The study focuses specifically on the arrangements, relationality, and referentiality between and among objects found in sacred and offering contexts dating to the Inca period.


Anthropology | Archaeological Anthropology | Social and Cultural Anthropology


This article is the publisher’s (Cambridge University Press) version, which previously appeared in CAMBRIDGE ARCHAEOLOGICAL JOURNAL, (19(3), 2009). Available online at