Trade and Social Power in the Southern Titicaca Basin Formative



The long-term evolution of social power has often been linked to the development of regional exchange systems. Most treatments emphasize monopolies of production or distribution of high-value items. In this chapter I analyze the case of exchange in the Middle (Late Chiripa phase) and early Late Formative (Tiwanaku I phase) communities of the southern Lake Titicaca Basin. I suggest that the evolution of social power in these villages was related to their role as “transit communities” in a regional exchange system and that significant social and political developments can be related to shifts in prehistoric caravan routes.