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The Tiwanaku Essay Sample

Real Estate Section of “The New York Times” →

Alan L. Kolata's, The Tiwanaku, is the great book about the social and historical origins of the Tiwanaku region and its inhabitants. According to Kolata, the capital of the Tiwanaku state was in the Bolivian altiplano, in the middle of the Tiwanaku Valley, approximately twenty kilometers from the lake (23). At its height, Tiwanaku was home to a powerful elite and a massive concentration of people living in and surrounding an impressive architectural core of pyramids, palaces, streets, and state buildings. Surrounding the core of the capital was an urban settlement of non-elite artisans, laborers, and farmers who lived in adobe structures up and down the valley.

The author points out that this large, planned urban capital sprawled over the altiplano landscape in the southern Titicaca Basin in the majestic Tiwanaku Valley. Current estimates suggest that the total urban settlement covered four to six square kilometers, and had a population ranging from thirty thousand to sixty thousand (Kolata 34). The valley between Tiwanaku and the lake was also heavily populated during the Tiwanaku IV and V periods (Kolata 38). The combined population of these settlements and the capital at Tiwanaku's height was the greatest concentration of people in the Andes south of Cuzco prior to the Spanish Conquest in the sixteenth century.

As the capital city of an expansive archaic state, Tiwanaku was more than an urban concentration of artisans, commoners, and political elite. The site itself served as the architectural representation of the power of a state with influence over a vast area in the south-central Andes, and it is dominated by a large, terraced, stone-faced pyramid in its urban core. Known as the Akapana, this construction measures 197 by 257 meters at its base and is 16.5 meters high (Kolata 104).

The Akapana is a huge construction and was most certainly one of the principal political and sacred public areas in the capital. Significantly, there were “distinctly secular structures” built at the top of the pyramid that Kolata interprets as domestic residences of an elite (117). Substantial quantities of domestic refuse were found in middens associated with these rectangular structures, which were built with finely cut stones and faced inward toward a patio area in a manner not unlike that of the much smaller and earlier buildings at Chiripa. Furthermore, the Akapana is interpreted as an artificial sacred mountain by Kolata (90).

In conclusion, Kolata notes that there was a very dense population outsidee Tiwanaku's architectural core. Janusek's excavation, onehalf kilometer east of the architectural core in the area called AKE2, indicated dense residential structures that dated to his late Tiwanaku IV and Tiwanaku V (Kolata 78). These structures were on top of sterile, undisturbed strata, indicating that the first expansion of an urban nature in this area occurred in the Tiwanaku IV period, after Tiwanaku III or Qeya, and that the site was not occupied during the Upper Formative. However, the Tiwanaku IV–V occupation was substantial. Overall, it seems that ethnohistorical,archaeological evidence is suggested t be the most reliable by Kolata. 

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