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Wankarani Settlement Systems in Evolutionary Perspective

UW-L Author: Tim McAndrews, Ph.D.
Copyright: 2005
Publisher: University of Pittsburgh

McAndrews, Timothy L. Wankarani Settlement Systems in Evolutionary Perspective: A Study in Early Village-Based Society and Long-Term Cultural Evolution in the South-Central Andean Altiplano. University of Pittsburgh memoirs in Latin American archaeology, no. 15. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Dept. of Anthropology, 2005.

In this book, Dr. Tim McAndrews presents the results of a regional settlement study he conducted in the Bolivian Altiplano, a harsh high altitude region in the south-central Andes. He argues that the emergence of the first sedentary villages in the area, the highly nucleated Wankarani villages, can be attributed to the concentration of highly productive land for a mixed farming-herding economy, defense, and labor pooling. Regional centralization and settlement hierarchy were absent and there was little evidence of exotic imported goods, so these common hallmarks of emergent complex socio-political organization were lacking. Yet there is some indication of small-scale village specialization and economic interdependence among Wankarani villages. Dr. McAndrews also explores the subsequent cultural evolutionary trajectory of the region. Instead of continuing to exist in the Wankarani mode (highly nucleated agro-pastoral village settlements) or developing more complex patterns of sociopolitical organization (as occurred in the Titicaca Basin to the north), Wankarani village society was replaced by small, mobile communities, more focused on herding, probably as an adaptation to drying climatic conditions and the disappearance of riverine resources that were likely quite important in Wankarani subsistence. Dr. McAndrews' full regional settlement dataset is available online as a complement to this volume ( . Complete text in English and Spanish.

From: Memoirs in Latin American Archaeology, No. 15, 2005

About the Author

Tim McAndrews earned a doctorate in anthropology from the University of Pittsburgh in 1998. He is currently a Professor of Archaeology at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse where he offers courses on Andean archaeology, historical archaeology, theory and history of archaeology, and human evolution. Dr. McAndrews has conducted extensive archaeological research in the Bolivian and Peruvian Andes in order to understand the organization and evolution of social, economic, and political institutions. His research has focused on the origins of the earliest sedentary villages and on the process of urbanization and evolution of highly complex societies in the Andes and around the world. In particular, he is interested in the rise of the complex society that built the impressive prehispanic urban settlement of Tiwanaku on the southern shores of Lake Titicaca in the Bolivia Altiplano. Dr. McAndrews has examined the nature of Tiwanaku's political control within and beyond its Altiplano heartland through research in Moquegua, Peru, and Cochabamba, Bolivia, two of the distant regions impacted by Tiwanaku socio-cultural and political influence. He is currently engaged in a long-term research project in Cochabamba focusing on the process of sedentism and the spread of Tiwanaku into that peripheral region.

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