Early Village-Based Society and Long-Term Cultural Evolution in the South-Central Andean Altiplano

Timothy McAndrews

PhD Thesis. 1998

The Formative Period in the south-central Andean antiplano is characterized by several social developments including permanent village life, early agriculture, new technologies (pottery and metal), and the emergence of more complex socio-political organization. The present research illuminates some of the processes behind these developments by investigating the Formative Period settlement systems of the Wankarani Complex in La Joya, Rio Kochi, and Belen regions in the department of Oruro, Bolivia. This project specifically focuses on reconstructing and explaining the emergence and organization of early village-based societies. The necessary data was obtained through regional survey, surface collection, and the limited test excavation.

This project contributes to the expanding comparative database on the Formative Period in the south-central Andes, and it offers comparative settlement pattern data for a time span of over 3500 years from the Formative through Inca times. Examining early village-based society in this long-term evolutionary framework provides insight into why early villages emerged in the first place, as well as an understanding on the socio-cultural trajectories that followed initial sedentarization. Finally, although this project focuses specifically on the south-central Andean antiplano, it hopes to contribute theoretically to our understanding of the emergence of early sedentary villages and subsequent socio-cultural developments cross-culturally.