Ancient Titicaca: The Evolution of Complex Society in Southern Peru and Northern Bolivia

Ancient Titicaca: The Evolution of Complex Society in Southern Peru and Northern Bolivia

Ancient Titicaca: The Evolution of Complex Society in Southern Peru and Northern Bolivia

Ancient Titicaca: The Evolution of Complex Society in Southern Peru and Northern Bolivia


"No previous writer has attempted such an ambitious synthesis of the archaeology of Southern Peru and Northern Bolivia. Stanish is to be congratulated for his bold and successful endeavor. In this book he offers his readers an impressively broad range of archaeological, historic and cultural data and presents a coherent and plausible interpretation of the evolution of society in the greater Titicaca Basin. It is exciting that this material will now be available to Andean specialists and students of comparative civilization alike. This work will be required reading in university level courses and a regular presence on the bookshelves of Andean scholars for years to come."--Garth Bawden, author of "The Moche

"This case study of prehispanic cultural evolution in the Titicaca Basin addresses issues of broad general interest, not only to Andeanists but also to scholars working in many other parts of the world where archaic states and empires developed from simpler cultural forms. Stanish, who has been working along the forefront of research on the Titicaca Basin, brings a very large body of new data to bear upon major theoretical concerns in evolutionary anthropology. This book makes the Titicaca Basin archaeological record much more accessible than it ever has been in the past. It is a major contribution, and will surely be a landmark study for years to come."--Jeffrey R. Parsons, co-author of "2000 Prehispanic Settlement Patterns in the Upper Mantaro and Tarma Drainages, Junin, Peru


The unfortunate peculiarity of the history of man is, that although its separate parts have been examined with considerable ability, hardly anyone has attempted to combine them into a whole, and ascertain the way in which they are connected with each other.

Henry T. Buckle, The History of Civilization in England, 1857

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 range of models, showing us how society could be transformed from autonomous village to expansionist empire over the course of three millennia. the fact that this book covers Andean civilization, a culture far less known than the four mentioned above, makes it rarer still.

The events presented here took place in the region the Inca called “the Land of the Four Quarters”— specifically, in the largest and southernmost quarter, Collasuyu. This quarter includes Lake Titicaca, at 3,812 meters one of the highest major bodies of water in the world. This high-altitude environment looks superficially inhospitable and harsh but in fact is replete with resources. From the lake the ancient inhabitants could collect waterfowl, fish, snails, aquatic plants, and reeds for boat making. in the surrounding highlands they could hunt vicuña, guanaco, and both huemal and white-tailed deer. They managed extensive herds of domestic alpaca and llama and raised guinea pigs. On slopes and flat areas around the lake, they cultivated a wide range of crops, including the chenopods quinoa and kañiwa, potatoes, and tubers such as mashwa, oca, and ullucu. the water in the lake created a warming effect, ameliorating the cold in such a way that this region could become a breadbasket for farmers.

European and American explorers were fascinated by the fact that the Titicaca Basin not only supported farming but also had impressive cities such as Tiwanaku. Popular interest was aroused in the nineteenth . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.