December 1999 Meeting of the Pre-Columbian Society

December 11, 1999:
Speaker:    Alexei Vranich

Title:   Pre-Columbian Urbanism: The Andean City of Tiwanaku, Bolivia.

      While archaeologists recognize the unique nature of pre-Columbian
cities, we are far from developing a consensus on the process that resulted in this
indigenous form of urbanism.  This situation is especially true for the
highland site of Tiwanaku. Located at 13,000 feet above sea level near the
shores of Lake Titicaca, this urban center flourished between AD 500 and AD
1000. The monumental temples and pyramids and the large stone monoliths in
the center of the city have attracted the admiration of explorers and
scientists since the time of the European contact. Over the last century,
archaeological investigations have exposed the walls of ancient temples and
dwellings in different parts of the city.

He briefly discussed the development of research at Tiwanaku and the
changing ideas on its nature and form.  His research is a continuation on
this near century of scientific investigations, focusing on one of the
largest and most elaborate ritual structures at the site, the temple of
Pumapunku. This research has resulted in new data that could shed light on a
pre-Columbian urban tradition that is still poorly understood.

He also discussed his highly publicised difficulties with the Bolivian officials in renewing his research permit, and the role of First Lady Hilary Rodman Clinton in resolving these difficulties following her visit to his site at Pumapunku.

     Alexei Lozano Vranich
     Born 1968 (Madison, Wisconsin)
     BA University of California, Berkeley 1991
     Ph.D University of Pennsylvania, 1999
     Research Associate at the University Museum

    Dissertation: the site of Tiwanaku, the temple of Pumapunku, considered
one of the most elaborate pre-Columbian buildings in South America.

    Other excavation experience: American Southwest, Mediterranean (Spain and
Italy), Bulgaria, India, Peru and the Bolivian Amazon.

     Side note: Both his parents are involved in research in the New World.
     Mother (Helen Vranich) wrote on literary development in Peru during the
colonial period.
     Father (Stanko Vranich) has recently investigated colonial
administration and justice in Guatemala.

He will be conducting excavations at Tiwanaku over the next few years.  This
summer they will be returning to investigate additional aspects of the Pumapunku
temple the other structures in its immediate environs.

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