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The Collasuyo Archaeological Research Institute (CARI) operates in partnership with the Institute for Field Research, a 501c3 non-profit organization. CARI-Peru is registered in Peru as an NGO that provides logistical support to researchers engaged in the archaeological and anthropological study of Andean culture and prehistory in the Lake Titicaca Basin, Puno, Peru.

CARI was originally established in 1999 under the name Programa Collasuyo by faculty of University of California Los Angeles, UC Santa Barbara, and the Universidad Nacional del Altiplano, Puno, Peru. It has operated continuously since that date, hosting academic researchers of the highest caliber from institutions in North and South America.

Over the last decade, the majority of cutting-edge archaeological and ethnographic research in the Northern Lake Titicaca Basin has been conducted through this research facility.

Excavations at Soro Mik’aya Patjxa

As stated in my previous post, the goal of the Ilave Basin Late Archaic Period (7,000-5,000 cal. B.P.) testing project was to test excavate five Late Archaic Period sites.  But the fates had a different plan.  Excavations at the first site of Soro Mik’aya Patjxa proved so productive that the full field season was spent at this one site excavating 50 sq. m. of earth with 20 features and over 50,000 artifacts including lithic debitage, lithic tools, bone, groundstone, ochre, and carbonized plant remains.  All of the 60+ temporally diagnostic projectile points from the site are pre-ceramic in age, and the few ceramic sherds recovered from the site (n=83, a mere 0.1% of the total artifact assemblage) were found in mixed plow-zone contexts, supporting the original finding that the site is by-and-large pre-ceramic in age.  Future radiocarbon dates should offer a more specific temporal span for the site.

Kite aerial photograph of Soro Mik'aya Patjxa excavations.

Kite aerial photograph of Soro Mik’aya Patjxa excavations.

We are currently in the lab organizing materials and analyzing data.  Keep an eye out for detailed results in upcoming conference presentations and publications.  Special thanks goes to Carlos Viviano Llave, Virginia Incacoña, Mateo Incacoña Huaraya, Dani Incacoña Quispe, Nestor Condori Flores, and Lauren A. Hayes for helping to make the field effort possible.  Additional thanks goes to Rosa Coaquira Huanacuni, Gervaccia Mamani Coaquira, Victor Flores Mamani, Tomas Quispe Coaquira, Lauren Page, and Lee Bloch for field and laboratory assistance.  The weekly field huatia (earth-oven-cooked potatoes) were especially fun! (see time lapse video below)

It’s a very busy field season 2013 here in Northern Lake Titicaca including 3 dissertation projects, an archaeological field school, and continuing artifact analysis. A full house is a happy house!

  • Erika Brant will excavating at the Inca site Sillustani beginning of July and continue through the end of September.
  • Randy Haas will be digging Archaic / Early Formative sites in Totorani from June – August.
  • BrieAnna Langlie will be excavating agricultural terraces at Late Intermediate period site of Machu Llaqta in mid-July through August.
  • Abby Levine will be running a fieldschool June 23-July 28 at the Formative site of Taraco
  • Liz Klarich will be doing ceramic analysis and further museum development at the Formative site Pucara beginning mid-July.
  • Liz Arkush, Carol Schultze and Aimee Plourde are continuing lab analysis of excavated artifacts from the LIP fortress site Machu Llaqta.

Introducing the Ilave Basin Late Archaic Period Testing Project

by Randy Haas, The University of Arizona

We currently know very little about the last hunting and gathering peoples of the Titicaca Basin.  Prior to 5,000 years ago–before potato and quinoa farming, and camelid herding–peoples of the Basin foraged seeds and tubers and hunted vicuña and deer.  The goal of my dissertation research is to advance our understanding of the social and economic conditions that prefaced the transition to agriculture.  What was life like for Late Archaic Period foragers on the Andean altiplano between 7,000 and 5,000 years ago?

A herd of wild vicuña in the study area. Vicuña appear to have been the major food resource for Late Archaic Period peoples of the Titicaca Basin (photo by author).

Our immediate goal is to test excavate five Late Archaic Period sites in the Ilave Basin.  The region’s largest Late Archaic Period sites cover up to 2 hectares and contain innumerable lithic artifacts.  By exposing stratigraphic profiles, recovering archaeological materials, and producing radiocarbon dates, the excavations will tell us more about the occupation span of these sites and the activities performed at them.   Field investigations will commence in July.