Hydrologic Power: A GIS Approach to Tiwanaku's Constructed Water Landscape

Author(s): Corey Bowen; John W. Janusek

Year: 2016


The conceptual division of urban and rural, like the parallel division of society and nature, consistently dogs attempts to understand the significance of cities in the highland Andes. Critical approaches to this divide, in fields from geography to literature, have had little impact in reformulating assumptions about the character of urbanism in this world region. This paper examines the Middle Horizon city of Tiwanaku, located in the southern Lake Titicaca basin of the south-central Andes. It emphasizes Tiwanaku’s agropastoral and cosmological production as fundamental elements of the city’s importance as a center of nucleated residence, recurring ritual, and political influence. Employing GIS analyses of regional hydrology and the city’s engineered water features, the paper examines the role of water in the city of Tiwanaku itself. Like stone drawn from local mountains, water was not just iconically or ‘symbolically’ important, but its dynamic presence, seasonal flow, and immediate materiality formed a critical foundation for Tiwanaku ritual-political power. The paper draws on parallels with other highland cities, notably the Late Horizon imperial Inka center of Cuzco.

Cite this Record

Hydrologic Power: A GIS Approach to Tiwanaku's Constructed Water Landscape. Corey Bowen, John W. Janusek. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 403070)


Gis hydrology tiwanaku

Geographic Keywords
South America

Spatial Coverage

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