The shapes of things that were: applying Huarpa art (ad 250-700) to the Lewis-Williams and Dowson entoptic model for shamanism

Las formas de cosas que fueron: el arte Huarpa (250-700 dc) aplicado al modelo entóptico de Lewis-Williams y Dowson para el chamanismo


Endogenous images are geometric shapes visualized involuntarily due to psychotropic (e.g., intoxicants) or physical (e.g., migraines) stimuli. According to the Lewis-Williams and Dowson neuropsychological model, artifacts with these shapes hypothetically document ecstatic shamanism. This article evaluates Huarpa style black-on-white geometric pottery (Ayacucho valley, Peru) to question how the shapes originated. Ceramic data represents the early, middle, and late phases of the Huarpa culture (ad 250-700). Results indicate that evidence to support ecstatic shamanism is a combination of endogenous shape analysis and the broader cultural context of Huarpa’s social network.

Keywords: endogenous, shamanism, Huarpa, Wari, Anadenanthera colubrina, Trichocereus pachanoi.


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