Isla del Sol
Isla del Sol (Island of the Sun) is an island in the southern part of
Lake Titicaca. It is part of Bolivia, and specifically part of the La
Paz Department. Geographically, the terrain is harsh; it is a rocky,
hilly island with many eucalyptus trees. There are no motor vehicles
or paved roads on the island. The main economic activity of the
approximately 800 families on the island is farming, with fishing and
tourism augmenting the subsistence economy. Of the several villages,
Yumani and Ch'allapampa are the largest.
There are over 80 ruins on the island. Most of these date to the Inca
period circa the 15th century AD. Archaeologists have discovered
evidence that people lived on the island as far back as the third
millennium BC. Many hills on the island contain agricultural terraces,
which adapt steep and rocky terrain to agriculture. Among the ruins on
the island are Titi Qala (Aymara titi Andean mountain cat; lead,
lead-colored, qala stone, "mountain cat stone" or "lead stone",
also spelled Titikala), a labyrinth-like building called Chinkana,
Q'asa Pata, and Pillkukayna. In the religion of the Incas, it was
believed that the sun god was born here.
3.1 Geological studies
3.2 Occupation history
6 External links
Drawing of Templo del Sol on the Isla del Sol.
The Aymara name for the island is Titi'kaka. The original meaning of
this word is not known. Some linguists and archaeologists believe the
name to be a corruption of titi (Andean mountain cat; lead,
lead-colored) and qala (rock). In the 1612 Aymara-Spanish dictionary
of Ludovico Bertonio, the phrase Tahksi kala is listed as "piedra
fundamental" or "foundation stone" possibly alluding to the origin
story of the Inca that the Sun and Moon were born in the lake.
Inca stairs in Yumani, Isla del Sol
Bernabé Cobo documented two versions of an Inca origin
myth that took place on the northern part of this island. The first
Manco Cápac is said to have emerged from a prominent crag in a
large sandstone outcrop known as Titi Qala.
Manco Cápac is the son of
Inti the Andean deity identified as the sun. In one version of the
myth, the ancient people of the province were without light in the sky
for many days and grew frightened of the darkness. Finally, the people
saw the Sun emerge from the crag and believed it was the Sun's
dwelling place. In another version related by Cobo, others believed
the crag was dedicated to the Sun because it hid under the crag during
a great Flood.
Isla del Sol
Isla del Sol was the first land that appeared after the
flood waters began to recede and the Sun emerged from Titi Qala to
illuminate the sky once again. A temple was built at this rock and
later expanded by the 10th Inca Tupac Inca Yupanqui. He built a
convent for mamaconas (chosen women) and a tambo (inn) for visiting
Inca fountain in Yumani, Isla del Sol
Excavations at the archaeological site of Ch'uxu Qullu, located on a
small peak above the Bay of Challa, led to the recovery of Archaic
Preceramic remains that radiocarbon dated to about 2200 BC. Eight
obsidian flakes were recovered from this context, and Neutron
Activation Analysis of three of the flakes revealed that all of them
were from the
Chivay obsidian source which is located in the Colca
Canyon, Department of Arequipa. The presence of Chivay obsidian is
clear evidence that inhabitants of the island were participating in a
wider network of exchange.
Chivay obsidian has also been used at a nearby archaeological site,
Jisk'a Iru Muqu, located on Peruvian territory. This indicates
cultural continuity between these two sites in the same preceramic
According to one bathymetric model, there is no path between the
shore edge and the Island of the Sun that does not pass over areas
where the lake bottom reaches a depth of 200 m (660 ft) or
Paleoclimate studies indicate that around 3100 BC the level
Lake Titicaca would have been as much as 85 m (279 ft)
lower than modern conditions, but that it had reached near modern
levels by about 2000 BC. Thus, at 2200 BC lake levels were
probably lower than at present but still high enough that the island
was separated by water from the mainland. Data from Ch'uxuqullu
therefore indicates that the lake shore cultures were using
well-developed watercraft technology during the Archaic period.
The island was continually occupied from at least 2200 BC up to the
present day. There is a significant Early Formative occupation
(1800-1100 BC), Middle Formative (1100-500 BC) and Upper Formative
(500 BC - AD 500).
The earliest recorded pottery on the island dates to between 1426 and
Most significantly, there is a major Tiwanaku (Tiahuanaco) settlement
on the island. The site of Chucaripupata was a major Tiwanaku ritual
site located above the Titi Qala, that the
Incas made famous.
All these sites are located on the western side of the island.
Titi Qala, the island location sacred to the Incas
Chucaripupata is only a few hundred meters from Titi Qala, and
immediately above them is a rock outcrop known as Murokata. It is
therefore possible that Murokata was the "sacred rock" of the Tiwanaku
The archaeological evidence indicates that neither Murokata nor Titi
Qala were used during the Late Intermediate Period (ca AD 1000-1450).
With the conquest of the southern Titicaca region by the Inca, the
Titi Qala zone was converted into one of the most important pilgrimage
destinations in the Inca state on par with the famous oracle at
Pachacamac on the coast just south of Lima.
Underwater archaeological investigations conducted off the Island of
the Sun from 1989-92 led to the discovery of both Inca and Tiahuanaco
artifacts. These are now on display at a site museum in
Ch'allapampa. Today the economy of the island is mainly driven by
tourism revenues, but subsistence agriculture and fishing are widely
The ruins of Pillkukayna, at the southern end of the island.
Walking path down the centre of the island.
Adobe bricks drying in the sun.
^ p209 Lonely Planet South America on a Shoestring 2008
^ Radio San Gabriel, "Instituto Radiofonico de Promoción Aymara"
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la Lengua Aymara, P.
Ludovico Bertonio 1612
^ Stanish, Charles 2003 Ancient Titicaca. University of California
^ Cobo, Bernabé 1990 History of the Inca Empire. University of
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^ Bauer, Brian and Charles Stanish 2001 "Ritual and Pilgrimage in the
Ancient Andes" University of Texas press, Austin[page needed]
^ Reinhard, Johan "Underwater Archaeological Research in Lake
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Media related to Isla Del Sol,
Bolivia at Wikimedia Commons
Coordinates: 16°01′14″S 69°10′35″W / 16.02056°S
69.17639°W / -16.0205