Visual Archaeology Interpretation



Burial I-16 of San Sabastian, Painting by Christiane Clados

Although the Wari and Tiwanaku shared similar iconography and religious practices, they were economically and politically quite distinct. Ancestors of the Incas: Lost Civilizations of Peru

The Tiwanaku, virtuosos of stone masonry, built enormous temple mounds and palaces. They transformed the windswept altiplano, or high plain, into a network of groundwater-fed canals and raised field systems for altitude-tolerant crops such as potatoes, tubers and quinoa. Herding such animals as the native Andean llama and alpaca provided both meat and wool. However, in order to grow temperate crops, such as corn and coca, two important staples to Tiwanaku ritual life, they had to extend into the lower valleys toward the Amazon or the Pacific Ocean.

Throughout their realm, they erected quadrangular complexes of tall, straight-lined buildings that resembled barrack complexes with restricted access. From afar, these did not look like the temple pyramids of the Tiwanaku, but were imposing urban intrusions on the landscape.

Tiwanaku Shoulder Panel Detail, Sun Gate at Tiwanaku, Bolivia

The Wari originated on the Central Peruvian Highlands and Tiwanaku near the shores of Lake Titicaca in what is now Bolivia. Both used symbols on textiles, rather than ceramics, to carry their message of religious political control. Their iconography revolved around a staff-bearing figure, as seen on the Sun Gate at Tiwanaku. The two states ruled Peru 500-800 AD.

The Sun Gate God bears appendages with serpent heads radiating from the central deity’s headdress. The Portal God’s face has animal heads referred to as “tears” extending downward from the eyes. He holds a staff in the right hand and a spear thrower in his left.


Internet Links


Tiwanaku Dig

Tiwanaku and Andean Archaeology

Tiwanaku: Lesson Plan (PDF File)




The Tiwanaku Empire: Lords of the Sacred Lake

























Copyright ©2004 Linda Kreft