Aymara herders in the highland regions of southern Peru and Bolivia express highly ambivalent attitudes towards archaeological patrimony. In this post-colonial setting, they follow strong avoidance behaviours towards archaeological sites directly associated with gentiles — the mummified remains of prehistoric, pagan individuals. Conversely, certain archaeological features are incorporated into modern discourses. This selective embracing of archaeological landscapes inscribes socially relevant features within contemporary identities, while repudiating others. Aymara use perceived spatial and temporal distance, reinforced with linguistic and mytho-historic constructs, to map social difference onto archaeological landscapes. Perceived distance separates Aymara from undesirable gentiles, whose threatening characteristics are embedded in historic experience. They relegate these dangerous social others to the past and envelop them in notions of remoteness. Simultaneously, Aymara use perceived proximity with favourable sites to draw inclusive social and geographic boundaries around their communities and to establish strategic priority for themselves, often in the context of conflicts. These divergent responses are highly sensitive to economic aspirations, political environments and resource-rights disputes, indicating that instrumental motivations factor significantly in Aymara attitudes towards archaeological heritage. Such opposing interactions underscore the contingency of attitudes towards the archaeological past. Both, however, can be understood as part of a coherent worldview that uses space, time and distance to construct social landscapes.