Underwater ritual offerings in the Island of the Sun and the formation of the Tiwanaku state

Christophe Delaere, José M. Capriles, Charles Stanish

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9 Scopus citations


Considerable debate surrounds the economic, political, and ideological systems that constitute primary state formation. Theoretical and empirical research emphasize the role of religion as a significant institution for promoting the consolidation and reproduction of archaic states. The Tiwanaku state developed in the Lake Titicaca Basin between the 5th and 12th centuries CE and extended its influence over much of the south-central Andes of South America. We report on recent discoveries from the first systematic underwater archaeological excavations in the Khoa Reef near the Island of the Sun, Bolivia. The depositional context and compositional properties of offerings consisting of ceramic feline incense burners, killed juvenile llamas, and sumptuary metal, shell, and lapidary ornaments allow us to reconstruct the structure and significance of cyclically repeated state rituals. Using new theoretical tools, we explain the role of these rituals in promoting the consolidation of the Tiwanaku polity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8233-8238
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number17
StatePublished - 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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