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Archaeology's Interactive Dig
June 2002-January 2005Interactive Dig at Tiwanaku
La Karaña (Courtesy Alexei Vranich)
The Akapana pyramid mound at Tiwanaku's monumental core (Zachary J. Christman)
One of the units put in west of the Akapana to investigate data from ground-penetrating radar

Field Notes 2004

This summer's archaeology field school from Harvard University will excavate at La Karaña, an area north of the monumental zone that is never visited by tourists. It appears at first glance to be little more than a gentle slope, but closer inspection shows the entire surface to be covered with huge quantities of ceramics and other artifacts. A little over ten years ago, excavations by Bolivian archaeologist Javier Escalante revealed that this sloped area was formally sculpted into a series of stone terraces that served as platforms for homes. Could this be the place where the people of Tiwanaku lived? We plan to analyze architecture, ceramics, and even microscopic remains to provide information for such questions as: Who lived in the city? Did this population make the food, drink, and elaborate decorations necessary for ceremonies? Were they allowed to attend the rituals at the monuments, or were they simply observers? We hope this season of investigations will provide us with information on the daily life of the people that worked, lived, and worshiped at Tiwanaku.

Within the monumental core, we'll continue to examine the layout of the city using geophysical investigation and excavation. Presently the site of Tiwanaku appears as a flat plain with scattered earth-covered monuments. Through excavation and subsurface survey, we'll be able to suggest how the site, which once functioned as a unified city, existed in the past. With a grant from the National Science Foundation, we'll be excavating some of the features we noted on the geophysical survey such as a huge plaza in front of the Akapana pyramid, a series of smaller rectangular structures surrounding this plaza, and a road that crosses the site. We'll also continue using georadar survey to map the incredible system of underground stone conduits that brought water in and out of the city. Much of the monuments and residential structures have eroded in the 1,000 years that followed the city's abandonment, but we hope to achieve a better idea of the city's layout by mapping these well-preserved features.

June 28

July 13

July 26

August 1

August 3

August 26

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© 2004 Archaeological Institute of America

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