via World Archaeology, 29 January 2021: An interesting paper in World Archaeology comparing Khmer lingas with Inca stone wak’as.
The materiality or intrinsic qualia of stone can account for the religious worship of extraordinary rock outcrops throughout the world. However, the differing agency of stony powers was largely the product of specific ideologies embedded in ontologically grounded semiotic registers. I support this argument through a comparison of the semiotic affordances of sculpted and unmodified stone in the ancient Andes and Angkorian Southeast Asia. I first interpret Khmer liṅgas and other religious carvings in relationship to the naturally occurring Svāyaṃbhuliṅga (self-manifested Śiva) that towered over the temple of Wat Phu, Laos. I then examine how the Inca incorporated stone wak’as into architectural complexes to subdue other-than-human powers. The final case study of revered rock outcrops and adobe temple architecture from the Jequetepeque Valley, Peru demonstrates that Moche ontologies of being, permanence, and transformation – as relates to animate boulders and mountains – differed significantly from both Inca and Angkorian semiotics of stone.