MOCHE SUBSTYLES: KEYS TO UNDERSTANDING MOCHE POLITICAL ORGANIZATION
Variations in Moche fine ware ceramics have generally been attributed to stylistic evolution through time. This article proposes an alternative explanation for stylistic variation-that different polities within the Moche territory were deliberately producing their own distinct variants, or substyles, of fine ware ceramics as a means of expressing their identity. Each substyle had its own center of production and its own beginning, fluorescence, and decline. The chronology of the substyles was not sequential, with one beginning when the previous one ended. Instead, the story was much more complex, with substyles frequently overlapping in time. The recognition of distinct Moche substyles can provide important insights into Moche civilization. To the extent that substyles are defined and their production identified both geographically and temporally, it will be possible to identify distinct Moche polities and to assess their relative strength as they developed and declined.