The broad aim of the project is to study how political networks and social hierarchies are reformulated in response to severe social crisis. After the collapse of the Tiwanaku state, in a time of extended drought and intense warfare, people moved into defensible settlements, discarded ancient religious traditions, and organized society in new and less hierarchical ways. In the north and northwest Titicaca Basin, Arkush’s previous research indicates the development of loose regional confederacies composed of local clusters of allied hillfort sites. But we do not really understand how these local societies were structured – how power, status, and wealth were distributed among people and kin groups – because there has been very little excavation of sites from this time period. 

The fieldwork program was designed to answer one principal research question: What degree, and kind, of social inequality and heterogeneity is present within the site, and between this site and any nearby satellites?  Given some degree of status differentiation, what sources of power formed the basis of it and reproduced it: mechanisms that had been emphasized in previous periods (e.g., feasting, management of ritual performances, and access to lowland resources like maize), or new mechanisms (e.g., warrior activity, access to ancestors, priority in colonizing the site)?

Pedestrian survey and systematic surface collections clarified the local settlement pattern sequence and the relationship between the site and its environs.  Excavations targeted six residential compounds to date and two cemeteries at Machu Llaqta to examine social difference in faunal and botanical remains, valuable and exotic items, evidence of craft production and ritual activity, and house size and construction.  Such data helps us understand social difference and similarity across Machu Llaqta. 


Our informational brochures about the site are available at the local municipalities.


Leading a school tour to Machu Llaqta in 2013