Mortuary analysis is an important avenue for archaeologists as it addresses a variety of topics, such as biology, architecture, socio-political complexity, status, ideology, economics, and kinship. Current theory about Andean mortuary practices focuses on the connections between the living and the deceased, and their relationship to the landscape and built environment. Ancestor worship permeated all levels of Andean society from the local community to the Inca state. Andean people venerated and buried their deceased in many ways. In the altiplano of Bolivia, the Aymara people placed some members of their society in monumental structures of stone and adobe known as chullpas.
Throughout the Sajama region, lines or ritual pathways are etched into the landscape. The ethnographies of the area suggest a link between the lines and some cultural features. The intent of this ivestigation is to ascertain whether or not lines near the Sajama Volcano are associated with chullpas located on the walled (pukara) sites of Changa-Moko and Huaylilla. The research will also address other possible associations between chullpas and the cultural landscape. These relationships may include alignments or patterns within chullpa sites; alignments between chullpa sites or other cultural features; associations with local topography and natural features. This study builds on previous archaeological studies undertaken by John Hyslop, Teresa Gisbert and colleagues, Martii Pärssinen, Marcos Michel López, and Patrice Lecoq; the ethnographic research of Alfred Métraux, Nathan Wachtel, Johan Reinhard, Gilles Riviere, and Thomas Abercrombie; the ethno-historical records of the chroniclers; and a Geographic Information System dataset created by the University of Pennsylvania's "Tierra Sajama " studio seminar. The analysis is still in progress and results will be available in the near future.
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