Leocadio Ticlla and Alexei Vranich excavate a bright green surface at the Pumapunku temple. (Courtesy Alexei Vranich)
AutoCAD reconstruction of the Pumapunku temple (Courtesy Alexei Vranich)
by Jason Yaeger

Investigations at the Pumapunku Temple

At the Pumapunku temple, Jason Yaeger (University of Wisconsin, Madison) has been studying remains of a substantial Inka settlement. When the Inka conquered the valley in 1470, the monumental sector of Tiwanaku had already been completely abandoned. The Inka accorded Tiwanaku a role in their mythic history as the place where their creator deity, Viracocha, created the ancestral couples of all the ethnic groups before sending them out to populate and rule their respective homelands. According to several authors, the Inka considered making Tiwanaku their capital before choosing Cuzco, and it was the inspiration for Cuzco's incomparable masonry. The settlement at Tiwanaku became the seat of Inka political power complete with a palace for the last uncontested Inka emperor.

Our research examines how the Inka reorganized sacred space at Tiwanaku in light of their cosmology, making their mythic history visible and tangible in the site's architecture, and how they celebrated mythic events in ceremonial activities there. By controlling this sacred origin place, the Inka reinforced their rule, and Tiwanaku's centuries-old temples, plazas, and sculptures played an important role in Inka imperialism.

Work last season revealed ten buildings arranged in a grid along the Pumapunku temple. This season we will open an estimated 500 sq. meters concentrating on a large plaza and feasting area adjacent to an elaborate building, possibly the Inka palace described by the Spanish. The ground-penetrating radar system we will be using around Akapana will also be used here. Considering the regularity of Inka settlements, we expect a high degree of success in finding other structures and the extent of this Inka city. [Next...]


Click here for a 360° view of the north
side of the Pumapunku
(QuickTime; 600k).

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