Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

The context and meaning of an intact Inca underwater offering from Lake Titicaca

  • Christophe Delaere (a1) (a2) and José M. Capriles (a3) (a4)

Abstract

As the Inca Empire expanded across the South American Andes during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries AD, Lake Titicaca became its mythical place of origin and the location of a pilgrimage complex on the Island of the Sun. This complex included an underwater reef where stone boxes containing miniature figurines of gold, silver and shell were submerged as ritual offerings. This article reports a newly discovered stone offering box from a reef close to the lake's north-eastern shore. The location, content and broader socio-cultural context of Inca sacrifices are examined to illuminate the religious and social meaning of underwater ritual offerings at Lake Titicaca.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      The context and meaning of an intact Inca underwater offering from Lake Titicaca
      Available formats
      ×

      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      The context and meaning of an intact Inca underwater offering from Lake Titicaca
      Available formats
      ×

      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      The context and meaning of an intact Inca underwater offering from Lake Titicaca
      Available formats
      ×

Copyright

Corresponding author

*Author for correspondence: ✉ delaerechristophe@gmail.com

References

Hide All
Abbott, M.B., Binford, M.W., Brenner, M. & Kelts, K.R.. 1997. A 3500 14C yr high-resolution record of water-level changes in Lake Titicaca, Bolivia/Peru. Quaternary Research 47: 169–80. https://doi.org/10.1006/qres.1997.1881
Albarracin-Jordan, J. 1999. The archaeology of Tiwanaku: the myths, history, and science of an ancient Andean civilization. La Paz: Fundación Bartolomé de las Casas.
Andrews, A.P. & Corletta, R.. 1995. A brief history of underwater archaeology in the Maya area. Ancient Mesoamerica 6: 101–17. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0956536100002121
Andrushko, V.A., Buzon, M.R., Gibaja, A.M., McEwan, G.F., Simonetti, A. & Creaser, R.A.. 2011. Investigating a child sacrifice event from the Inca heartland. Journal of Archaeological Science 38: 323–33. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jas.2010.09.009
Arkush, E. 2006. Inca ceremonial sites in the southwest Titicaca Basin, in Stanish, C., Cohen, A.B. & Aldenderfer, M.S. (ed.) Advances in Titicaca Basin archaeology: 209–42. Los Angeles: University of California, Cotsen Institute of Archaeology. https://doi.org/10.2307/j.ctvhhhfn9.20
Bandelier, A.F.A. 1910. The islands of Titicaca and Koati. New York: The Hispanic Society of America.
Bauer, B.S. & Stanish, C.. 2001. Ritual and pilgrimage in the ancient Andes: the Islands of the Sun and the Moon. Austin: University of Texas Press.
Besom, T. 2010. Inka sacrifice and the mummy of Salinas Grandes. Latin American Antiquity 21: 399422. https://doi.org/10.7183/1045-6635.21.4.399
Besom, T. 2013. Inka human sacrifice and mountain worship: strategies for empire unification. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press.
Billaud, Y. 2017. Archaeology of underwater caves in France: an overview, in Campbell, P.B. (ed.) The archaeology of underwater caves: 145–61. Southampton: Highfield.
Bouysse-Cassagne, T. 1992. Le Lac Titicaca: histoire perdue d'une mer intérieure. Bulletin de l'Institut Français d’Études Andines 21: 89159.
Bouysse-Cassagne, T. 2017. Las minas de oro de los incas, el Sol y las culturas del Collasuyu. Bulletin de l'Institut Français d’Études Andines 46: 936.
Bray, T.L. 2009. An archaeological perspective on the Andean concept of camaquen: thinking through late pre-Columbian ofrendas and huacas. Cambridge Archaeological Journal 19: 357–66. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0959774309000547
Bray, T.L., Farfán, S. Chávez, Ticona, M. Alejo & Chávez, S.. 2019. Recientes excavaciones en Intinqala: un sitio de ocupación Inca en Copacabana, Bolivia. Boletín de la Sociedad de Investigación del Arte Rupestre de Bolivia 33: 4271.
Ceruti, M.C. 2004. Human bodies as objects of dedication at Inca mountain shrines (north-western Argentina). World Archaeology 36: 103–22. https://doi.org/10.1080/0043824042000192632
Cieza de León, P. 1984 [1553]. Crónica del Perú: primera parte. Lima: Academia Nacional de Historia, Pontífica Universidad Católica del Perú.
Delaere, C. 2016. Le patrimoine subaquatique du lac Titicaca, Bolivie: utilisation et perception de l'espace lacustre durant la période Tiwanaku (500–1150 PCN). Unpublished PhD dissertation, Université libre de Bruxelles.
Delaere, C. 2017. The location of Lake Titicaca's coastal area during the Tiwanaku and Inca periods: methodology and strategies of underwater archaeology. Journal of Maritime Archaeology 12: 223–38. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11457-017-9187-6
Delaere, C. In press. Las figurillas miniaturas en contextos de ofrendas subacuáticas: sacrificios de sustitución y legitimación del poder Inca en el lago Titicaca. Studium Veritatis.
Delaere, C. & Warmenbol, E.. 2019. The watery way to the world of the dead: underwater excavations (old and new) at the cave of Han-sur-Lesse, Belgium, in Büster, L., Warmenbol, E. & Mlekuž, D. (ed.) Between worlds: 137–61. Cham: Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-99022-4_8
Delaere, C., Capriles, J.M. & Stanish, C.. 2019. Underwater ritual offerings in the Island of the Sun and the formation of the Tiwanaku State. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 116: 8233–38. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1820749116
Dransart, P. 1995. Elemental meanings: symbolic expression in Inka miniature figurines. London: Institute of Latin American Studies, University of London.
Gaspari, A. 2003. Archaeology of the Ljubljanica River (Slovenia): early underwater investigations and some current issues. International Journal of Nautical Archaeology 32: 4252. https://doi.org/10.1006/ijna.2003.1080
Goggin, J.M. 1960. Underwater archaeology: its nature and limitations. American Antiquity 25: 348–54. https://doi.org/10.2307/277518
King, H. 2012. Peruvian featherworks: art of the pre-Columbian era. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Martínez-Carrillo, M.A., Solís, C., Bautista, I.H., Sánchez, R.J., Rodríguez-Ceja, M., Ortiz, M.E. & Chávez-Lomelí, E.. 2017. Radiocarbon dating of underwater archaeological objects from the Nevado de Toluca, Mexico. Radiocarbon 59: 1705–12. https://doi.org/10.1017/RDC.2017.106
Mignone, P. 2009. Miniaturas zoomorfas del volcán Llullaillaco y contraste entre régimen y vida comunitaria en la capacocha. Boletín del Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino 14: 5568.
Moseley, M.E. 2001. The Incas and their ancestors: the archaeology of Peru (2nd edition). New York: Thames & Hudson.
Neveu-Lemaire, M. 1906 [1877] [1892]. Les lacs des hauts plateaux de l'Amérique du Sud. Paris: Imprimerie Nationale.
Pärssinen, M. 2005. Caquiaviri y la provincia Pacasa: desde el alto-formativo hasta la conquista española (1–1533). La Paz: CIMA.
Pärssinen, M. & Siiriäinen, A.. 1997. Inka-style ceramics and their chronological relationship to the Inka expansion in the southern Lake Titicaca area (Bolivia). Latin American Antiquity 8: 255–71. https://doi.org/10.2307/971655
Ponce Sanginés, C., Reinhard, J., Ortiz, M. Portugal, Siñanis, E. Pareja & Ticlla, L.. 1992. Exploraciones arqueológicas subacuáticas en el Lago Titikaka. La Paz: Editorial La Palabra.
Portugal Loayza, J. 2000. Un ayllu Uru en el noreste del Lago Titicaca: Ojchi. Textos Antropológicos 8: 1146.
Ramos Gavilán, A. 1860 [1621]. Historia de Copacabana y de su milagrosa imajen de la vírjen. La Paz: Imprenta de la Unión Católica.
Reinhard, J. 1992. Underwater archaeological research in Lake Titicaca, Bolivia, in Saunders, N.J. (ed.) Ancient America: contributions to New World archaeology: 117–43. Oxford: Oxbow.
Reinhard, J. 2005. The Ice Maiden: Inca mummies, mountain gods, and sacred sites in the Andes. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society.
Reinhard, J. & Ceruti, M.C.. 2010. Inca rituals and sacred mountains: a study of the world's highest archaeological sites. Los Angeles: University of California, Cotsen Institute of Archaeology.
Roche, M.A., Bourges, J., Cortes, J. & Mattos, R.. 1992. Climatology and hydrology of the Lake Titicaca basin, in Dejoux, C. & Iltis, A. (ed.) Lake Titicaca: a synthesis of limnological knowledge: 6383. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-011-2406-5_4
Ronchail, J., Espinoza, J., Callède, J. & Lavado, W.. 2014. Evolucion del nivel del Lago Titicaca durante el siglo 20, in Pouilly, M., Lazzaro, X., Point, D. & Aguirre, M. (ed.) Linea base de conocimientos sobre los recursos hidrologicos e hidrobiologicos en el sistema TDPS con enfoque en la cuenca del Lago Titicaca: 113. La Paz: UICN & IRD.
Rowe, J.H. 1946. Inca culture at the time of the Spanish Conquest, in Steward, J.H. (ed.) Handbook of South American Indians: 183330. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution.
Sagárnaga, J. 1997. Figuras Inka en el contexto altiplánico. Tawantinsuyu 3: 8694.
Van der Sanden, W.A.B. 2013. Bog bodies: underwater burials, sacrifices and executions, in Menotti, F. & O'Sullivan, A. (ed.) The Oxford handbook of wetland archaeology: 401–16. Oxford: Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199573493.013.0024
Schobinger, J. 1999. Los santuarios de altura incaicos y el Aconcagua: aspectos generales e interpretativos. Relaciones de la Sociedad Argentina de Antropología 24: 727.
Sillar, B. 2009. The social agency of things? Animism and materiality in the Andes. Cambridge Archaeological Journal 19: 367–77. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0959774309000559
Stanish, C. 2003. Ancient Titicaca: the evolution of complex society in southern Peru and northern Bolivia. Berkeley: University of California Press. https://doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520232457.001.0001
Stanish, C. & Bauer, B.S. (ed.). 2004. Archaeological research on the Islands of the Sun and Moon, Lake Titicaca, Bolivia: final results of the Proyecto Tiksi Kjarka. Los Angeles: University of California, Cotsen Institute of Archaeology. https://doi.org/10.2307/j.ctvhhhg8f
Tantaleán, H. & Blanco, L. Flores. 2012. Una introducción a la arqueología de la cuenca del Titicaca, in Blanco, L. Flores & Tantaleán, H. (ed.) Arqueología de la cuenca del Titicaca: 1926. Lima: Instituto Francés de Estudios Andinos. https://doi.org/10.4000/books.ifea.6564
Vellard, J. 1954. Dieux et parias des Andes: les Ourous, ceux qui ne veulent pas être des hommes. Paris: Émile-Paul.
Weide, D.M., Fritz, S.C., Hastorf, C.A., Bruno, M.C., Baker, P.A., Guedron, S. & Salenbien, W.. 2017. A ~6000 yr diatom record of Mid-to Late Holocene fluctuations in the level of Lago Wiñaymarca, Lake Titicaca (Peru/Bolivia). Quaternary Research 88: 179–92. https://doi.org/10.1017/qua.2017.49
Westerdahl, C. 2005. Seal on land, elk at sea: notes on and applications of the ritual landscape at the seaboard. International Journal of Nautical Archaeology 34: 223. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1095-9270.2005.00039.x
Yaeger, J. & López, J.M.. 2018. Inca sacred landscapes in the Titicaca Basin, in Alconini, S. & Covey, A. (ed.) The Oxford handbook of the Incas: 541–57. Oxford: Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780190219352.013.21

Keywords

The context and meaning of an intact Inca underwater offering from Lake Titicaca

  • Christophe Delaere (a1) (a2) and José M. Capriles (a3) (a4)

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.