The Movements of Maize into Middle Horizon Tiwanaku, Bolivia

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Book Chapter

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Publication Title

Histories of Maize : Multidisciplinary Approaches to the Prehistory, Linguistics, Biogeography, Domestication, and Evolution of Maize


One of the major models for the rise of the Tiwanaku state has been trade between people and colonies outside of the Titicaca Basin. Another major model has been the increased intensity of rituals and feasting at the center to incorporate people into its system. These feasts have been proposed to include chicha maize beer. We know that maize was present at Tiwanaku during its political height and has been found in ritual kero drinking vessels, but it cannot be grown in the valley of the site itself. In this chapter, we address the question of where Tiwanaku maize came from as a way to understand the social and political strategies of polity formation. We have begun this investigation by measuring kernels and cupules from the two most likely places of production origin, the Osmore (Moquegua) and the Cochabamba Valleys (Piñami). Identifying the overlap of these three archaeological maize data sets, we can begin to propose more concrete aspects of this interaction. This chapter addresses the broader social question of people and plants, through the movements of this political plant within the south-central Andes.


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