Community and Ancestors in the Titicaca Basin during the Formative Period

Author(s): Sara Juengst

Year: 2015


The Formative Period (1500 BC-AD 200) in the Titicaca Basin was a time of important social and economic changes, such as the establishment of sedentary settlements and long distance trade routes, increasing horticultural investment, and an emerging regional ritual tradition, Yaya-Mama. However, while archaeologists have documented and described these changes, less is understood about how they impacted local communities. In particular, Yaya-Mama has been interpreted in a variety of ways: as a unifying lake basin identity, a social mediator, a cult of ancestor worship and the emergence of social stratification. To investigate this ritual tradition and its impact on the lake basin, this project uses human skeletal remains excavated from four temple and two non-temple sites. Specifically, I ask how people participating in Yaya-Mama ceremonies were related, both socially and genetically, to others in the lake basin and how they negotiated changing community boundaries and identities. In this paper, I will report dietary and disease lesion data and the results of biodistance and strontium isotope analyses in order to reconstruct who shared access to resources, who was considered acceptable reproductive partners, and if participants at temple rituals were local or foreign.

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Cite this Record

Community and Ancestors in the Titicaca Basin during the Formative Period. Sara Juengst. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 396699)


Geographic Keywords
South America

Spatial Coverage

min long: -93.691; min lat: -56.945 ; max long: -31.113; max lat: 18.48 ;