Background | Meet the Researchers | Q & A | Photo Gallery | Maps


Read about the 1.05 million National Science Foundation Grant opening new possibilities for the Tiwanaku Project

Check for the experimental archaeology project on Lake Titicaca completed in 2002

Learn about archaeoastronomy at Tiwanaku

Read excerpts from the 2004 Field Notes



About the Project

The prehistoric city of Tiwanaku is located on the southern shore of the famous Lake Titicaca along the border between Bolivia and Peru. During the heyday of this city was between A.D. 500 and 950, religious artifacts from the city spread across the southern Andes, but when the conquering Inka arrived in the mid-fifteenth century, the site had been mysteriously abandoned for half a millennium. Even after its abandonment, Tiwanaku continued to be an important religious site for the local people. It later became incorporated into Inka mythology as the birthplace of mankind as the Inka built their own structures alongside the ruins. Tiwanaku remains an integral locale in the religious lives of Andean people in the turbulent present of modern Bolivia. Although dozens of national and international projects began to unlock Tiwanaku's secrets during the last century, we are only recently beginning to piece together the puzzle behind the origin of this architectural marvel and the people who built it.

University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology started collaborating with the Department of Archaeology of Bolivia (DINAR, directed by Javier Escalante) in 1995 on the monumental temple of Pumapunku, one of the finest examples of Precolumbian architecture. In the last few years, our project has grown to include the entire site (four square kilometers) with participation from the University of Wisconsin, Madison; University of Denver; MIT; and students from the UMSA, the Bolivian university in the capital of La Paz. Our project has not only focused on the impressive monumental remains; we have also been investigating the everyday lives of the site's inhabitants.

In the summer of 2004, the archaeology field school from Harvard University excavated the location known as La Karaña, an area north of the site's monumental core. They also continued to examine the layout of the city through geophysical investigation and excavation.