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Lukurmata: Household Archaeology in Prehispanic Bolivia

Copyright Date: 1994
Pages: 326
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    Household archaeology, together with community and regional settlement information, forms the basis for a unique local perspective of Andean prehistory in this study of the evolution of the site of Lukurmata, a pre-Columbian community in highland Bolivia. First established nearly two thousand years ago, Lukurmata grew to be a major ceremonial center in the Tiwanaku state, a polity that dominated the south-central Andes from a.d. 400 to 1200. After the Tiwanaku state collapsed, Lukurmata rapidly declined, becoming once again a small village. In his analysis of a 1300-year-long sequence of house remains at Lukurmata, Marc Bermann traces patterns and changes in the organization of domestic life, household ritual, ties to other communities, and mortuary activities, as well as household adaptations to overarching political and economic trends.

    Prehistorians have long studied the processes of Andean state formation, expansion, and decline at the regional level, notes Bermann. But only now are we beginning to understand how these changes affected the lives of the residents at individual settlements. Presenting a "view from below" of Andean prehistory based on a remarkably extensive data set,Lukurmatais a rare case study of how prehispanic polities can be understood in new ways if prehistorians integrate the different lines of evidence available to them.

    Originally published in 1994.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-6384-6
    Subjects: Archaeology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Illustrations and Tables
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xvii-2)
  6. 1 Interpreting Prehistoric Social Change
    (pp. 3-18)

    A focus on the capitals of complex societies has characterized Andean archaeology from its inception. Because of this, we know far more about urban sites than we do about villages, far more about temples than about houses, far more about regional administration than about day-to-day life. Families were constituent parts of chiefdoms, states,ayllus, waranqas,and empires, yet the household has been neglected as an important and revealing unit of study. In no place is this more evident than in traditional approaches to social change and political development in Andean prehistory. The processes of state formation, expansion, and decline have...

  7. 2 Household Archaeology
    (pp. 19-41)

    Archaeologists have turned to domestic remains to address a wide range of concerns. Typically, these concerns pertain to archaeological formation processes, prehistoric sociopolitical and economic organization, prehistoric value systems and worldview, and processes of cultural evolution. The popularity of using the domestic remains to address these concerns results from the household status as a universal social form as well as the ubiquity of the domestic archaeological record. Households are often described as “basic units” of human societies, and domestic remains are common at most archaeological sites (Ashmore and Wilk 1988; Sheets 1992; Stanish 1989a; Wilk and Rathje 1982). In addition,...

  8. 3 Lukurmata: Setting, Methodology, and Previous Research
    (pp. 42-58)

    Thealtiplanoof the Lake Titicaca Basin is delimited by the Cordillera Occidental and Cordillera Real. It is a cold, windswept plateau ranging from 3500 m to over 4000 m above sea level in elevation and is subject to marked wet and dry seasons. The wet season (November–March) is characterized by daily rainfall and violent storms, as well as by occasional light snow, frost, and hailstorms. The dry season (April–October) is dusty and virtually without precipitation.

    Visitors to the Bolivian altiplano, particularly during the dry season, are inevitably impressed by its bleakness and sparse vegetation. Its apparent desolation...

  9. 4 Lukurmata’s Earliest Occupation
    (pp. 59-67)

    The earliest occupation at Lukurmata was found just above sterile soil, at a depth of 275 cm below datum. We excavated 48 contiguous m² at this level, exposing the remains of a single structure and an associated outdoor activity area with several features (Figure 4.1). Basing our estimate on stratigraphy and ceramic cross-references, a date of 200 B.C.—A.D. 50 can be suggested for the occupation. A single sample of charcoal from one of the features gave a corrected age of 2000 ± 60 B.P. (calibrated date: 20 ± 80 B.C.).

    Test pits were extended to sterile soil in nineteen...

  10. 5 Ties with Tiwanaku
    (pp. 68-85)

    People continued to live on the ridge after Structure 1 was abandoned. During this time, the area excavated served as a burial ground, outdoor activity area (possibly an agricultural field), and midden.

    The poorly preserved remains of Structure 2 were 255 cm below datum, or 20 cm above Structure 1. This house measured 4 m x 3 m. Two postholes and a possible hearth were associated with the floor, but we could not define an associated outdoor occupational surface. The artifacts found in the fill around Structure 2 were identical in type and style to those of Structure 1, indicating...

  11. 6 Continuity and Change
    (pp. 86-96)

    Occupation continued on the ridge after Structures 3 and 4 were abandoned. Structures 5 and 6, represented only by poorly preserved patches of clay floor, were found 15 cm above the Structure 3–4 occupation, at 225 cm below datum. Because these house remains were so fragmentary, I will describe the subsequent Structure 7–8 and 9–10 occupations. Structures 5 and 6 appear to have been small (4 m ☓ 3 m) dwellings similar in size and shape to Structure 7.

    Excavation of a contiguous 52 m² at 210 cm below datum exposed the remains of Structures 7 and...

  12. 7 The Rise of the Tiwanaku Polity
    (pp. 97-102)

    The site of Tiwanaku is located in the Tiwanaku Valley, a flat and windswept drainage broken by low hills and ravines (see Figure 3.2). The valley is well defined, bounded by the hill ranges of Kimsa Cjata projecting 200 m above the valley floor to the south, and the Taraco and Achuta hill ranges to the north (Browman 1981, 1984; Girault 1977b; Ponce 1981a). Lukurmata lies on the other side of the Taraco–Achuta Hills.

    The transformation of Tiwanaku from a small village to an urban center during the first four centuries of our era remains poorly understood. As research...

  13. 8 Lukurmata during the Tiwanaku III Period
    (pp. 103-130)

    The Tiwanaku III period at Lukurmata began with the appearance of small quantities of Tiwanaku III-style ceramics in midden deposits at 170–175 cm below datum in the main excavation on the ridge. These pottery fragments were from small, decorated bowls and cups rather than the elaborate incensarios described in the previous chapter.

    The first occupation clearly associated with Tiwanaku III-style materials was at 160 cm below datum, and could date from 50 to 150 years after the initial appearance of Tiwanaku III-style materials. Clearing 84 contiguous m² at this depth exposed the remains of five contemporary structures—Structures 14...

  14. 9 Late Tiwanaku III Period Structures
    (pp. 131-137)

    A sequence of midden deposits indicates that occupation continued on the ridge after the abandonment of Structures 14–18. A total of 96 contiguous m² excavated at 125 cm below datum exposed the remains of three later structures, Structures 19–21, and an associated outdoor surface (Figure 9.1). No absolute dates for this occupation are available, but its stratigraphic relationship to other occupations with radiocarbon dates suggests an early to mid-sixth-century A.D. date.

    There is no evidence that the residential population at Lukurmata was any larger than during the previous occupation, or had spread beyond the ridge. Lukurmata probably continued...

  15. 10 Terminal Tiwanaku III Period Occupation: Specialized Architecture
    (pp. 138-148)

    A short time after Structures 19 and 20 were abandoned, a new set of structures was built over their remains. Ceramic affiliations and the stratigraphic relationship to occupations with absolute dates suggest a late sixth-century A.D. date for the Structure 22–24 occupation. The occupation consisted of the remains of three structures, together with associated outdoor surfaces and features, at roughly 110 cm below datum (Figure 10.1). A total of 184 contiguous m² was exposed at this level.

    Lukurmata probably remained a small village, no larger than it had been earlier in the Tiwanaku III period. Occupation may still have...

  16. 11 Lukurmata and the Tiwanaku State
    (pp. 149-177)

    The Tiwanaku IV period (A.D. 400–A.D. 800) was characterized by dramatic change at Lukurmata and throughout the region. Concurrent with the emergence of a new Tiwanaku iconographic style (the Tiwanaku IV style) was a transformation in the regional scale and complexity of the Tiwanaku polity, including the expansion of the Tiwanaku system beyond the Lake Titicaca Basin, the development of a regional settlement hierarchy in the Tiwanaku heartland, and the creation of a vast sustaining hinterland for the huge population at the capital. Connected to the latter two developments was the rapid growth of Lukurmata from simple hamlet to...

  17. 12 Lukurmata at Its Height
    (pp. 178-217)

    After Structures 25–28 were abandoned, other residences were built nearby. The intensity of occupation on the ridge seems to have increased; less fill separates Tiwanaku IV period occupations than separated Tiwanaku III period occupations, and the Tiwanaku IV period structures themselves show more episodes of reflooring, probably to extend the uselife of structures. The increased density of settlement on the ridge may have prevented residents from simply building a new house nearby when the old one began to disintegrate.

    The last occupation dating to the Tiwanaku IV period was at 60–64 cm below datum. Excavating 248 contiguous m²...

  18. 13 Lukurmata’s Decline during the Tiwanaku V Period
    (pp. 218-224)

    The population of Lukurmata appears to have declined sharply during the Tiwanaku V period (A.D. 800–A.D. 1200). No housefloors dating to this period were found at Lukurmata, but the presence of surface artifacts and features from the Tiwanaku V period show that a residential population remained at the site. It is difficult to measure the extent of the population drop at Lukurmata, and the focus of domestic occupation may have shifted from the ridge to other areas of the site. The public architecture at the site may have been abandoned as well. Midden accumulated on the central burial platform,...

  19. 14 The Post-Tiwanaku Period at Lukurmata
    (pp. 225-235)

    The earliest post-Tiwanaku period occupation found in the ridgetop excavation was represented by the partially preserved remains of a single house, Structure 43, and associated outdoor features at 40–45 cm below datum, a short distance below the modern plow zone. A large number of post-Tiwanaku period tombs were also excavated. Mollo-style pottery (a post-Tiwanaku period “culture” centered to the east of Lake Titicaca) associated with the structure and several of the tombs helped to fix the date of this occupation between A.D. 1200 and A.D. 1300.

    There was little settlement on the ridgetop during the post-Tiwanaku period, and Lukurmata...

  20. 15 Conclusion: Lukurmata Households and the Tiwanaku State
    (pp. 236-258)

    The study of Andean prehistory has been shaped by a “capital-centric” perspective that treats smaller sites merely as ahistorical components of larger political formations, and larger formations themselves as highly stable, integrated, and unified systems. While capitals are interesting, we have to remember that each capital is unique and is rarely representative of the way the majority of the population was living. Similarly, while study of social macroprocesses is important, the Lukurmata sequence demonstrates that household life can display an “evolution” of its own, independent of stateor regional-level processes.

    The questions of where and how these “evolutions” shape each other,...

  21. I Tabular Household Data: Features and Artifacts Used in Analyzing Lukurmata Domestic Occupations
    (pp. 261-263)
  22. II Faunal Remains from Lukurmata Domestic Occupations
    (pp. 264-265)
  23. III Radiocarbon Dates from Lukurmata Domestic Contexts
    (pp. 266-266)
  24. IV Regional Time Chart
    (pp. 267-267)
  25. V Field Designations of Burials Mentioned in the Text
    (pp. 268-268)
  26. Vl Ceramic Descriptions
    (pp. 269-276)
  27. References
    (pp. 277-304)
  28. Index
    (pp. 305-307)