Jesus Valencia | The Altiplanic Cultures
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The Altiplanic Cultures

Sheperd and its llamas. Petroglyph located near San Pedro de Atacama

The Altiplanic Cultures

Altiplanic or Andean culture is a collective term used to refer to the native people of the Andes mountains.

Sometimes, this term concerns to those cultures that came under the influence of the Inca Empire, but there were great civilizations before the Incas, such as the Tiwanaku Empire.

The Tiwanaku Empire

The Tiwanaku (Tiahuanaco or Tiahuanacu) culture rose in the southern Lake Titicaca Basin around 100 AD.

Tiwanaku’s influence, most clearly documented by the presence of its decorated ceramics, expanded into the Yungas (a transitional zone between the Andean highlands and the eastern forests) and influenced many other cultures in Peru, Bolivia and northern Argentina and Chile.

Some statues at Tiwanaku were taken from other regions, where the stones were placed in a subordinate position to the Gods of the Tiwanaku.

Archaeologists have documented Tiwanaku ceramics at a large number of sites in and beyond the Lake Titicaca Basin, attesting to the expansive influence of Tiwanaku symbols and attached messages of power.

Tiwanaku monumental architecture is characterized by large stones of exceptional workmanship. In contrast to the masonry style of the later Inca. Tiwanaku stone architecture usually employs rectangular ashlar blocks laid in regular courses. 

Tiwanaku sculpture is comprised typically of blocky, column-like figures with huge, flat square eyes, and detailed with shallow relief carving. They are often holding ritual objects, such as the Ponce Stela or the Bennett Monolith.

Some have been found holding severed heads, such as the figure on the Akapana, who possibly represents a puma-shaman. These images suggest the culture practiced ritual human beheading. As additional evidence, headless skeletons have been found under the Akapana.

The Inca Empire

The Inca Empire was the largest empire in the pre-Columbian America.

The administrative, political and military center of the empire was in the city of Cusco. The Inca culture arose from the Peruvian highlands in the beggining of the 13th century. Its last stronghold was conquered by the Spanish in 1572.

The Incas incorporated a large portion of western South America, centered on the Adean Mountains, using conquest and peaceful assimilation. At its largest, the empire joined Peru, western Ecuador, western and south central Bolivia, northwest Argentina, a large region of what is today Chile, and the southwestern of Colombia into a state comparable to the historical empires of Eurasia. Its official language was Quechua.


Inca’s beliefs were a mixture of polytheism, mathematics, astronomic observation and reincarnation. All these elements were used by Incas in their artworks.

Architecture was the most important of the Incan arts and the most notable example is Machu Picchu.

It’s good to know…

 Inca astronomers understood equinoxes, solstices and zenith passages, along with the Venus cycle. 


My artworks are recreations of the Pre-Columbian cultures. There was a time when the art was pure.

Jesus valencia