Household and Community Organization of a Formative Period, Bolivian Settlement

Courtney Elizabeth Rose

PhD Thesis. 2001

For thousands of years the early inhabitants of the Bolivian altiplano were highly mobile people, leaving only traces of the occasional campsite along the landscape. This mobile existence ended around 2000 BC, marking the beginning of what is known as the Formative Period in Bolivia (2000 BC - AD 300). The altiplano populations of south-central Bolivia began settling into communities of such longevity that their settlements eventually formed large mounds. These mound sites represent one of Bolivia's earliest village societies: the Wankarani complex.

Before this investigation, little was known about Wankarani residential and community organization. This investigation focused on the residential and community patterns represented by the final contemporaneous occupation at the Wankarani site of La Barca. The site of La Barca is located in the Canton of La Joya, Department of Oruro, Bolivia. Through broad, horizontal excavation, residential and public structures, associated features, refuse areas, and activity areas were identified in order to determine where the La Barca residents fell on the axis with a completely communal pattern on the one end, and the household pattern at the other end. My goal was to characterize the nature of the adaptive unit in this early village society. Results of this study are of comparative value to anthropological studies in both the Andean region and many parts of the world. This study reveals a new perspective on the primary adaptive units among villages undergoing the shift from a mobile, pastoral lifeway to a settled, agricultural lifeway.