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Thursday, May 16 • 10:30am - 11:00am
(Architecture) Conservation of Pre-Hispanic Aymaran–Inka Funeral Towers, ‘Chullpar’ on the Bolivian Altiplano: Discovering Old, Lost Construction Techniques

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After the Tiwanaku Empire collapsed at 1170 A.D., the Aymaras occupied the Altiplano, territories of what are now western Bolivia, southern Peru, northern Chile and parts of northwest Argentina. The Aymaras started a long lasting construction tradition for their dead family members, a tradition that lasted until the colonial period. We know these funerary structures as chullpa or chullpar. Across the altiplano we find a great variety in materials and constructive technique: clay with paja ichu (Peruvian feathergrass), adobe, carved stones, natural stones and various combinations of these. A particularly interesting material and technique is textile-like weaving of chullpawawas (long loaves of clay mixed with whole paja ichu) 'warps' and 'woofs' lining a chamber inside the funeral tower. Against all odds, some of these structures have survived for more than 800 years, despite the harsh climatic conditions of the Altiplano and human predations. The dried material is extremely hard and resists the growth of vegetation on and around the structure. Preliminary FTIR studies suggest that this not only clay and paja ichu: a protein or urea additive that could be giving the resistance. Given the observed biogrowth resistance, an ancient or natural pesticide may be present, as well. Until very recently, the chullpares' ancient construction techniques especially chullpawawas weaving, have not been fully understood, for instance most historians and archaeologists have considered chullpawawas as adobe, and its physical substance has never before been studied archaeometrically. Until now, applied conservation of the chullpares has proceeded in various rather unorthodox manners. During the last three years our team has been documenting three sites and their constructive techniques, conducting archaeometric studies using multispectral, microscopical, spectroscopic and chromographic methods, experimenting with replication of constructive techniques, and developing more sustainable conservation techniques. We are sustainably using natural and local raw materials, and also introducing modern products for instance geotextile in protecting roofs from rainwater. Currently our work continues and we expect to learn much more about chullpar ancient constructive techniques. We invite colleagues' interest for an international multidisciplinary team to work on a regional level with this unique heritage, and we are seeking UNESCO World Heritage designation, and diverse project support Resumen

avatar for Irene Delaveris

Irene Delaveris

Manager Conservator, Delaveris Conservaciones
Irene Delavers: Bachelor in Conservation from TEI Athens, Athens - Greece with specialization in conservation of archaeological heritage. As a professional she has worked in Norway, Chile, Argentina and Bolivia. Teaching preventive conservation and first aid at the archaeological... Read More →


Abdul Arenas

Professional Architect Teacher, Public University El Alto
Abdul Arenas: Constructor, Architect and Civil Engineer. He studied at the University Mayor de San Andrés (UMSA), and is currently teaching at the same university as well as the Public University El Alto (UPEA), both in La Paz – Bolivia. He has a 30 years long experience in civil... Read More →

Guido Mamani

Responsible for Conservation at Site and Museums, Center for Archaeological and Anthropological Studies and Administration at Tiwanaku – CIAAAT.
Guido Mamani: Studied architecture at the University Mayor de San Andrés (UMSA), La Paz – Bolivia and showed a special interest in Cultural Heritage. He has worked in the registration of the great citadel site of Iskanwaya. He is working currently in Tiwanaku as Responsible of... Read More →
avatar for John Scott

John Scott

Conservator, New York Conservation Foundation, Inc
avatar for Marcia de Almeida Rizzutto

Marcia de Almeida Rizzutto

Professor, University of Sao Paulo
Marcia A. Rizzutto: Bachelor, Master and PhD in Physics from the University of São Paulo (USP), SP, Brazil, with specialization in Nuclear Physics. Post-doctor in Nuclear Physics, Applied Physics and Archeometry (Science Applied) in Brazil and Italy. Professor of the Physics Institute... Read More →

Thursday May 16, 2019 10:30am - 11:00am EDT
Salon A1, Uncas Ballroom Sky Convention Center, Mohegan Sun
  Specialty Session, Architecture
  • Track Architecture
  • Ticketed Included in Main Registration
  • Authors in Publication Order Irene Delaveris, MA, Conservator Marcia de Almeida Rizzutto, PhD. Guido Mamani, PA Abdul Arenas, PE John Scott, MA, MBA, MA-CA, Conservator-Analyst
  • Abstract ID 18646
  • Tags Chullpar,Funerary tower,Archaeometry,Bolivia,interdisciplinary teamwork