Temporal Inflection Points in Decorated Pottery: A Bayesian Refinement of the Late Formative Chronology in the Southern Lake Titicaca Basin, Bolivia Academic Article uri icon

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  • The Late Formative period immediately precedes the emergence of Tiwanaku, one of the earliest South American states, yet it is one of the most poorly understood periods in the southern Lake Titicaca Basin (Bolivia). In this article, we refine the ceramic chronology of this period with large sets of dates from eight sites, focusing on temporal inflection points in decorated ceramic styles. These points, estimated here by Bayesian models, index specific moments of change: (1) cal AD 120 (60–170, 95% probability): the first deposition of Kalasasaya red-rimmed and zonally incised styles; (2) cal AD 240 (190–340, 95% probability): a tentative estimate of the final deposition of Kalasasaya zonally incised vessels; (3) cal AD 420 (380–470, 95% probability): the final deposition of Kalasasaya red-rimmed vessels; and (4) cal AD 590 (500–660, 95% probability): the first deposition of Tiwanaku Redwares. These four modeled boundaries anchor an updated Late Formative chronology, which includes the Initial Late Formative phase, a newly identified decorative hiatus between the Middle and Late Formative periods. The models place Qeya and transitional vessels between inflection points 3 and 4 based on regionally consistent stratigraphic sequences. This more precise chronology will enable researchers to explore the trajectories of other contemporary shifts during this crucial period in Lake Titicaca Basin's prehistory.


  • Marsh, Erik J
  • Roddick, Andrew
  • Bruno, Maria C
  • Smith, Scott C
  • Janusek, John W
  • Hastorf, Christine A

publication date

  • December 2019