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Ancient Titicaca

The Evolution of Complex Society in Southern Peru and Northern Bolivia

Charles Stanish

Publication Year: 2003

One of the richest and most complex civilizations in ancient America evolved around Lake Titicaca in southern Peru and northern Bolivia. This book is the first comprehensive synthesis of four thousand years of prehistory for the entire Titicaca region. It is a fascinating story of the transition from hunting and gathering to early agriculture, to the formation of the Tiwanaku and Pucara civilizations, and to the double conquest of the region, first by the powerful neighboring Inca in the fifteenth century and a century later by the Spanish Crown. Based on more than fifteen years of field research in Peru and Bolivia, Charles Stanish's book brings together a wide range of ethnographic, historical, and archaeological data, including material that has not yet been published. This landmark work brings the author's intimate knowledge of the ethnography and archaeology in this region to bear on major theoretical concerns in evolutionary anthropology.

Stanish provides a broad comparative framework for evaluating how these complex societies developed. After giving an overview of the region's archaeology and cultural history, he discusses the history of archaeological research in the Titicaca Basin, as well as its geography, ecology, and ethnography. He then synthesizes the data from six archaeological periods in the Titicaca Basin within an evolutionary anthropological framework.

Titicaca Basin prehistory has long been viewed through the lens of first Inca intellectuals and the Spanish state. This book demonstrates that the ancestors of the Aymara people of the Titicaca Basin rivaled the Incas in wealth, sophistication, and cultural genius. The provocative data and interpretations of this book will also make us think anew about the rise and fall of other civilizations throughout history.

Published by: University of California Press


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. iii-v


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p. vii-vii

List of Figures

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pp. ix-x

List of Maps

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pp. xi-xii

List of Tables

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p. xiii-xiii

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pp. xv-xvii

Henry T. Buckle would have applauded this book. Many of the world’s great civilizations—Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Greek, Roman—have been the subject of books, but few of those books connect the parts into a whole as this one does. Charles Stanish combines empirical archaeological data with a wide ...

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pp. xix-xx

My first trip to the Titicaca Basin was in 1982, as the guest of the late Victor Barua and his wife, Lucy Barua. I was fascinated by the people and archaeology of this region and have returned every year since 1985 to conduct or plan research. At the time of those early trips, I realized that archaeologists and naturalists had worked in the region ...

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pp. xxi-xxiii

This book is based on many seasons of research in Moquegua, Puno, and Bolivia. There are many people and institutions who have provided invaluable help. I wish to thank the Programa Contisuyu and, in particular, Michael Moseley, Don Rice, the late Victor Barua, Lucy Barua, Nelson Molina, and ...

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1. Ancient Collasuyu

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pp. 1-17

The first Europeans to see Lake Titicaca arrived as part of an advance force of Francisco Pizarro’s conquering army in the 1530s. These soldiers had marched into Collasuyu, the great southeastern quarter of the Inca empire. Collasuyu was one of the oldest provinces of the Inca state, and probably the richest. Inca ...

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2. The Evolution of Political Economies

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pp. 18-29

For centuries, social philosophers and anthropologists have tried to systematically and rationally explain the emergence of complex society in the great centers of world civilization. Since at least the late nineteenth century, anthropologists have realized that the shift from Neolithic or Formative village societies to ranked ...

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3. The Geography and Paleoecology of the Titicaca Basin

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pp. 30-43

When the Europeans first began their explorations and conquest of the vast South American continent in the early sixteenth century, they encountered the Inca empire, by far the largest state in Andean history and one of the largest preindustrial empires in world history. Tawantinsuyu, or Land of the Four ...

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4. The Ethnography and Ethnohistory of the Titicaca Basin

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pp. 44-71

The great early Spanish historian Pedro de Cieza de León wrote that the Inca province of the south-central Andes, known as the Collao, was one of the richest and most densely populated provinces in all of Peru. The heartland of the Collao is the Titicaca Basin. During the sixteenth century, the early Spanish historians referred to a number of peoples and ...

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5. The History of Archaeological Research in the Titicaca Basin

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pp. 72-98

This chapter traces the historical development of Titicaca Basin archaeology. This survey begins in the mid-sixteenth century and seeks to convey an understanding of basin prehistory during this immediate post-European contact period. For each subsequent era, the results of the archaeological and historical research will be summarized. Several other good reviews of the history of ...

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6. The Origins and Elaboration of Rank in the Early and Middle Formative Periods

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pp. 99-136

The beginning of the Early Formative period is defined as the time when the first sedentary populations living in permanent villages developed in the Titicaca Basin. The previous Late Archaic period was characterized by relatively small, semisedentary populations pursuing an economy based on a mix of hunting, plant collecting, horticulture, fishing, and ...

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7. The Rise of Competitive Peer Polities in the Upper Formative Period

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pp. 137-164

During the Upper Formative period (500 b.c.– a.d. 400), highly ranked societies developed in some areas of the Titicaca region. Prior to this time, the Titicaca Basin societies were demographically small and were not characterized by significant social and political hierarchies beyond that of simple ranked societies, as evident in Qaluyu, Chiripa, Early ...

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8. The First State of Tiwanaku

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pp. 165-203

The late Upper Formative period in the circum- Titicaca Basin was a politically dynamic time that provided the context for the emergence of an expansive archaic state. By a.d. 400 or so, dozens of polities of varying sizes and complexity existed in the region. Intense competition was the norm, as evidenced in iconography and other indices of conflict. This competition took ...

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9. The Rise of Complex Agro-Pastoral Societies in the Altiplano Period

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pp. 204-235

One of the first great historians of Peru, Pedro de Cieza de León, considered the Titicaca Basin one of the most important regions in all of the Indies. By the time Cieza visited the area, the Inca empire had controlled the region for about two generations. The physical and cultural landscape that the first Western historians saw in the sixteenth ...

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10. Conquest from Outside: The Inca Occupation of the Titicaca Basin

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pp. 236-277

The Quechua-speaking peoples who lived in the Cuzco region built a mighty conquest state that expanded over an enormous area in a relatively short span of time. Over the centuries, the nature of the Inca state has been defined and redefined, with interpretations ranging from its being a totalitarian state to a benevolent “socialist” empire (Arze 1941; Baudin 1928). In a similar ...

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11. The Evolution of Complex Society in the Titicaca Basin

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pp. 278-294

Social power derives from the political control of economic production and exchange. This control is exercised through a variety of mechanisms ranging from voluntary organizations held together by mutually beneficial reciprocal relationships, to outright coercion by an entrenched elite. The initial development of organization where some ...

APPENDIX: Selected Terms from the 1612 Aymara Dictionary of Ludovico Bertonio

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pp. 295-299


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pp. 301-305

References Cited

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pp. 307-329


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pp. 331-354

Production Notes

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p. 355-355

E-ISBN-13: 9780520928190
Print-ISBN-13: 9780520232457

Page Count: 384
Publication Year: 2003