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Archaeological approaches to ritual in the Andes : a ceramic analysis of ceremonial space at the formative period site of Chiripa, Bolivia Roddick, Andrew P.

Abstract

This study uses ceramic data to examine the function of two Middle Formative Period (800-200 BC) structures at the site of Chiripa, in the Lake Titicaca Basin, Bolivia. I investigate the activities that occurred in both domestic and ritual architecture. I also examine the nature of the Yaya-Mama Religious Tradition; a ritual tradition posited for the Lake Titicaca region and thought to be represented by the Chiripa architecture and associated artifact assemblages. The likelihood and nature of feasting and exchange at Chiripa during the Middle Formative Period are also investigated by classifying the ceramic data into both serving and non-serving groups. Previous researchers have suggested that Chiripa structures were used for ritual activity, but their exact nature remains unclear. Also, suggestions that large-scale feasting activity occurred at Chiripa are not supported by the data analyzed here. A general lack of ceramic imports suggests that the Yaya-Mama Tradition was a politically autonomous yet community inclusive tradition at Chiripa, and the site was not the center of a complex polity. I finish by situating my ceramic functional analysis within the context of ethnographic and ethnohistoric studies of ritual and the continuum of developing complexity in the Lake Titicaca Basin. This study demonstrates that the site of Chiripa, in the process of developing complexity, maintained consistent ritual cannons over four centuries of political change; an idea central to religious traditions.

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