Llamas, Alpacas, and Fish in the Ancient Landscapes of Lake Titicaca, Bolivia

Llamas, alpacas, and fish in the Ancient Landscapes of Lake Titicaca, Bolivia: Ancient herders depended on their flocks for food, trade, and security in a changing environment.

Photo caption: Luis Apaza, a project assistant from the community of San Jose, demonstrates the use of traditional fishing practices and technology, July 2006. Farmers along the lakeshore set nets in the afternoon and collect fish in the early morning, before spending the day caring for herd animals and crops. Photo by Fredrik Hiebert.

Where
The sites of Chiripa, Kala Uyuni, and Sonaji are located on the Taraco peninsula in the southern part of Lake Titicaca, in the modern villages of Chiripa, San Jose, and Santa Rosa.

When
The Formative Period of Bolivia, approximately 1500 BCE to 400 CE

Researchers
Katherine Moore, University of Pennsylvania
Christine A. Hastorf, University of California Berkeley

Sponsors
National Science Foundation
National Geographic Society
Wenner-Gren Foundation

Kala UyuniKatherine Moore is using animal bone remains from Formative sites on the shores of Lake Titicaca to study the herding of llamas and alpacas. These animals were used for food, as wool animals, and as pack animals to transport crops and trade goods. They were also important in religious practice and prestige. Analysis of the size, age, and health of the animals shows the care that early herders took of their flocks and how critical the flocks were in helping the communities deal with social and environmental change. In another part of the study, fish bones from the site show the importance of aquatic resources.

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