Tiahuanaco, Bolivia

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Capital city of the Tiahuanaco Empire, situated on the altiplano of the central Andes at 4000 m above sea level at the southern end of Lake Titicaca. Flourishing during the middle Horizon.

In the centre is a major ceremonial complex spread over an area 1000 m by 500 m. The largest temple platform is called the Akapana; each side measures 200 m long and it stood 15 m high. A lower, smaller platform, the Kalasasaya, 3 m high and 126 m by 118 m, stood at its base. At the northwestern entrance to the Kalasasaya stood a massive carved monolith known as the Gateway of the Sun. Made from a single slab of andesite weighing at least 10 tons, this monolith is carved in the form of a doorway with niches on either side. Above the door is a representation of the most important local deity, the Staff Deity: a human wearing an elaborate headdress with appendages ending with the heads of animals and holding a staff in each hand.

The surrounding state was large and appears to have extended into southern Peru, northern Chile, most of Bolivia, and some of Argentina. There was a sharp boundary between Tiahuanaco and the adjacent Huari state. Tiahuanaco declined in the late 1st millennium ad and was abandoned by about ad 1000.


C. W. Bennett, 1934, Excavations at Tiahuanaco. Anthropological Papers of the American Museum of Natural History 34, 359–494

Subjects: Archaeology.

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