Tiahuanaco Tiwanaku

At ~4000m (more than 13,000 ft) above sea level near Lake Titicaca on the high plains of Bolivia stands the monumental site of Tiahuanaco. The majority of the local people speak one of three Aymara languages (distantly related to Quechua), but an important minority speak Uru or the closely related Chipaya. The now extinct Puquina language was once fairly common in the area. Kolata (1993, pp. 33-35, 66-69) suggests that all of these languages were important in the Tiwanaku state. The Aymara name for the site was Taypikala, "the stone in the center," because it was near the center of the world (Kolata 1993, p. 8). Building at the site probably began in the late centuries b.c., but the massive influence of Tiahuanaco-related culture throughout the Andean region occurred during the Middle Horizon. We now know that this influence was mediated through the conquests of Huari (Wari), which many scholars regard as the first major conquest state in the Andes. Huari arose in opposition to Tiahuanaco, but shared many features with it. The site of Tiahuanaco is surrounded by a moat, within which lived a dense population. The general orientation of the site is to a fairly precise east-west line. Massive buildings and religious sculptures are common throughout the site.

Tiahuanaco has probably been the subject of more fantasy than has any other archeological site in the Americas, although hardly surpassing the native belief that the Sun, Moon, and stars were created at Tiahuanaco (Kolata 1993, pp. 5-6). Much of this fantasy has depended on the archaeoastronomical calculations of Arthur Posnansky (1914, 1945-1947/1957), who maintained that the monuments had been erected when the obliquity of the ecliptic, e was 23°8'48", which he said indicated a date of 15,000 b.c. The interest of the technical procedure and the sorry example of misused archaeoastronomical evidence make this work worth mentioning as a cautionary tale. The date depends on several crucial factors. We accept that the variation in e is known, at least on shorter time scales (see §4.4, especially equation 4.22); but even if an extrapolated value for e were sufficiently accurate, the assumptions that monuments were aligned to particular solar phenomena to such accuracy and that the accuracy of the alignments could be maintained to seconds of arc over 170 centuries are highly questionable. Although we would not dispute the possibility of solar alignments at the site, we note also that many of the monuments were completely unexcavated in Posnansky's time.

Finally, Posnansky assumed that the back- and foresights were relatively stable. We are willing to accept some instability, but Posnansky, curiously, argued that Tiahuanaco had

Figure 14.30. The Akapana monument at Tiahuanaco (Taypikala). Drawing by Sharon Hanna, after J. Escalante, in Kolata 1993.

been uplifted from sea level since the site was first occupied. How this could be done without disturbing the alignments on which his date was determined was, apparently, not seen as a difficulty.

Most of the reliable archaeoastronomical information from Tiahuanaco deals with the Akapana monument (Kolata 1993, pp. 104-129. See Figure 14.30). The basic shape is that of a step-fret (which has also been described as "half of an Andean cross"), with the "tail" to the west. Six stages rest on a large basal terrace and a sunken court on top of the pyramid is in the shape of a full "Andean cross." During the rainy season, this filled with water that was carried to ground level through an intricate series of stone-lined drains, alternately buried in the pyramid and flowing on the surface of the terraces. The structure is aligned to the equinox, and there were stairways both on the east and the west sides. At some point, the drainage channels ceased to work, and subsequently a series of offerings were made at various points around Akapana, probably in the early 7th century a.d. (Kolata 1993, pp. 122-124, 133). Hundreds of broken polychrome ceramic vessels were found in one cache. These contained a dominant motif of decapitated human heads. Elsewhere, the archeologists found 21 human burials (mixed with llama bones), 18 of which lacked skulls. Several others lacked lower limbs or parts of the spinal column. The bones lack cut marks, which led Kolata to infer that they had not been sacrificed or butchered at the time of death. However, Sullivan (1996, pp. 391-393) points out that modern Indians have a technique of killing and butchering llamas, in which great emphasis is placed on not harming the bones and in which the same parts of the body are often removed. There seems to have been some equivalence of human and llama sacrifice. Everyone accepts a substantial integration of ritual and religious practices with astrono-

Figure 14.31. The Bennett Stela of Tiahuanaco, Bolivia: Zuidema interprets the iconography calendrically. He suggests that the 177 dots on the "skirt" of the major deity figure represent days, measuring six lunar months. Drawing by Sharon Hanna.

mically determined calendrical rituals, but there is little agreement on details.

The "Gateway of the Sun," found in the Kalasasaya temple, has been repeatedly interpreted as a calendar, but none of the analyses is convincing in detail. The great monolithic gateway centers on the figure of a god with solar snake rays around his head, holding two staves. He is regarded as a prototype of Thunupa, the Aymara weather god ruling thunder and lightning, the equivalent of Thunder of the Moche ceramics and of Illapa or Viracocha of the Incas. The god is accompanied by three rows of eight winged anthropomorphic beings in profile, on each side, totaling 48 in all.14 Below these figures, a 4th frieze shows 15 unidentified images in peculiar serpentine frames, alternating above and below.

Zuidema (1983) has offered a calendrical interpretation of the iconography of the Bennett Stela (Figure 14.31). He suggests that the 177 dots on the "skirt" of the major deity figure represent days, measuring six lunar months. This

14 We see 40 human-headed and 8 bird-headed beings; cf., Sullivan (1996, Fig. 10.2).

seems to us reasonable, particularly considering that this is the most important eclipse interval. Moreover, the dots are arranged in a curious abacus-like way, suggestive of arithmetical calculations rather than directly of astronomy. There are 5 lines of 5 dots, 3 lines of 6 dots, 3 lines of 7 dots plus a line with only 6 dots, but extending to the 7th position, and 4 lines of 6 dots on one side, totaling 94 and, on the other side, 8 rows of 6 dots and 7 rows of 5 dots, totaling 83. The subtotal of 94 suggests a rough calculation of a quarter of a year. The monument also shows 12 human-headed figures, with solar snake rays, 2 llama-headed figures, 8 bird-headed figures, and 3 unidentified animal-headed figures, gen-erically, 13 animal heads (possibly connected with lunar months) and 12 human heads (possibly representing solar months). The monument shows agricultural plants and hallucinogenic cacti along with the human and animal-headed figures, and Kolata thinks that it represents a deliberate balance between llama pastoralists and agriculturalists.

Our knowledge of the calendar and astronomy of Huari is very limited, but Anders (1986) thought that the layout of Azangaro, a Huari site, indicated that it was a ceremonial center, deliberately planned to incorporate cosmological and calendrical principles. The site is walled and laid out in three major divisions, with 13 large courtyards in the northernmost section and five smaller courtyards. To the southeast, in the central division, a long central corridor is flanked by 20 rows of rooms on each side, separated by corridors. Some of the corridors were blocked by cross-walls. Nineteen of the rows contain eight rooms on each side. The 20th row has eighteen small rooms on each side. A conduit for water ran below the central corridor, and subsidiary conduits are found in the SW section of the central division. The southern division had three very large subdivisions containing architectural structures that are irregular compared with the other divisions. This complex seems to have been the living quarters of the ruling elite. A final architectural complex at the gate controlled access. There was also a shaft tomb burial, apparently associated with one of the water conduits. The water-damaged skeleton was probably that of a woman.

Anders postulated that the eight rooms in a row represent the days of an eight-day "week," that each was associated with a particular day of the year, and that each was assigned as temporary quarters to a particular individual or group responsible for rituals associated with that day or with longer intervals incorporating that day. She attempted to match the material with aspects of Zuidema's reconstruction of the Inca calendar (see §14.2.5) and even tried to assign particular rooms to the equivalents of particular days of specified Inca months. We do not find the latter endeavor convincing, but there does seem to be an emphasis on the numbers 8, 13, 18, 40, 360, and 361, which matches other Huari evidence. The water channels running beneath the site, the associated (presumed) female burial, and the emphasis on 13 and 18 (2 x 9) are all reminiscent of Chavin. The alignment is, unfortunately, given only in terms of magnetic north, but it is clearly SE-NW in general terms. It would be interesting to know how closely it resembles Chavin in that regard.

A surviving Huari textile with two identical panels has been interpreted by several scholars as a calendar (originally by Lommel 1967; most fully by Zuidema 1982a, pp. 221-225).15 Anders (1986, III, pp. 867-868) discusses features shared with Azangaro. In each panel, there are 36 columns of 10 circles each. There are 3 columns of circles above each of 12 deity/human figures. Below the 12 figures are 61 front-facing heads, giving 73 heads in all. The circles are color-coded—five different colors created by their placements—45 diagonal lines of circles. From these, one can recognize patterns of 5 x 72 and 8 x 45. Taken together, these suggest a 360-day calendar arranged in 12 months of 30-days each with probable subunits of 8 and 10 days. Zuidema suggested that the human figures and heads represented 5 days each, creating a parallel reference to a 365-day year. Even if they only represent 1 day each, the figures and heads would represent a definite and often-used fraction, viz., one-fifth, of a 365-day year. In this widely accepted calendrical interpretation, the doubling of the panels refers to a two-year interval.

Conklin (1982) has drawn attention to a number of quipus from the Huari horizon. These quipus consist of a main cord with subsidiary pendant cords, wrapped with colored threads. The cords and threads indicate numerical values both by position and by color and seem to use binary, base 5, and base 10 notations. Both the color coding and the use of units of 5 and 10 support the previously proposed interpretation of the Huari textile.

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