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Tiahuanaco (tyäwänäˈkō), ancient native ruin, W Bolivia, 34 mi (55 km) S of Lake Titicaca on the Tiahuanaco R. in the S central Andes, near the Peruvian border; also called Tiwanaku or Tiahuanacu. Nearly 13,000 ft (3,962 m) above sea level, Tiahuanaco was probably the center of a pre-Inca empire and is believed by some to have been built by the Aymara and to have had some 30,000–40,000 inhabitants. Much of the construction is unfinished. Building was begun at some time before A.D. 500, and there is evidence of additional construction c.1100–1300. About 1000, Tiahuanaco culture spread to E Bolivia, N Chile, and Peru; the culture flourished for about 200 years. Built of massive blocks weighing up to 100 tons and brought from several miles away, the structures of Tiahuanaco consisted of terraced pyramids, courts, temples (some containing monolithic stone statues of human figures), and urban areas covering some 2.3 sq mi (13.6 sq m) and are superb examples of masonry. The stones, fitted together without mortar, were cut, squared, dressed, and notched with a precision equaled in no other aboriginal South American civilization, not even the Inca. Construction is largely of the platform or monolithic type decorated by conventional incised carving or heads in low relief. The creators of Tiahuanaco excelled as well at ceramics; Tiahuanaco painted pottery is one of the great achievements of pre-Columbian art. Also found at Tiahuanaco were goods made of copper, silver, and obsidian, thought to have been used by the society's elite members.


See A. Posnansky, Tiahuanacu (4 vol., 1945–58); J. A. Mason, The Ancient Civilizations of Peru (1957, rev. ed. 1988); A. L. Kolata, The Tiwanaku (1993).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



an American Indian civilization that existed in northern Bolivia at the end of the first millennium B.C. and in the first millennium A.D. Located southeast of Lake Titicaca are the remains of the center of Tiahuanaco, which measured 40 hectares in area and was characterized by blocks of dwellings. Structures in the settlement were made mainly of basalt and sandstone blocks. Remains include the Akapana pyramid, 15 m in height, and the Kalasasaya temple complex, which, once enclosed by a wall with a staircase at the entrance, is known for the monolithic Gateway to the Sun and its frieze depicting a god and rows of mythical creatures running toward him. The site also includes the Palacio and the ruins of other buildings. Richly ornamented stone figures and patterned and painted pottery were among objects discovered at the site.

The founders of Tiahuanaco were related to the tribes of central Peru. They grew crops, raised llamas, and apparently reached the level of an early class society. At the end of the first millennium A.D., Tiahuanaco wielded influence over an extensive area, which probably reflected the political supremacy of its founders. The civilization also greatly influenced the ancient art of the Andes. At the end of the first millennium A.D., the civilization of Tiahuanaco came to an end and its territory was occupied by ancestors of the modern-day Ay mará Indians.


Bashilov, V. A. Drevnie tsivilizatsii Peru i Bolivii. Moscow, 1972. Pages 58–72.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Ya dentro del campo etnohistorico propuso la hipotesis de la invasion aymara desde el sur como factor para el colapso de Tiwanaku. Dicha migracion habria seguido un eje norte sur y estaria relacionada con el origen de Lupacas, Pacajes y otros grupos (1980, 1994).
Food, Feasts, and the Construction of Identity and Power in Ancient Tiwanaku: A Bioarchaeological Perspective.
Knobloch, "SAIS-the origin, development, and dating of Tiahuanaco-Huari iconography," in Tiwanaku: Papers from the 2005 Mayer Center Symposium a the Denver Art Museum, M.
Andean religious leaders perform a New Year's ritual in the ruins of the ancient city Tiwanaku, Bolivia, yesterday.
'The Rains of Titikaka' by John Harrison follows rise and fall of the pre-Columbian city of Tiwanaku in Bolivia.
Around the Iakeshores, archaeologists have uncovered the rise and fall of the Tiwanaku civilization, which arose in the third century A.D.