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date: 24 January 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Sacred landscapes are networks of meaningful places that are often woven together in mythic frameworks. Frequently they are understood as narratives, which are re-enacted through rituals and processions. We present archaeological data from the Copacabana Peninsula and Tiwanaku to show how the Inca appropriated pre-existing places and transformed the sacred landscape of the Titicaca Basin to inscribe the politically powerful Viracocha creation narrative, which held that Viracocha emerged on the Island of the Sun and travelled to Tiwanaku, where he created the sun, the moon, and the ancestral couples of all people, beginning with the Inca. We argue that this creation narrative was a key element in the Inca Empire’s ideology of legitimation. Consequently, the Inca appropriated and modified ritual places so that this narrative could be inscribed, re-enacted, commemorated, and remembered, and they developed an infrastructure to support these rituals and related processions.

Keywords: Tiwanaku, Copacabana Peninsula, Titicaca, Viracocha, Pumapunku

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