Sighting the apu: A GIS Analysis of Wari Imperialism and the Worship of Mountain Peaks

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Donna Nash, Associate Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:

Abstract: In the Andes, prominent mountains are revered as earthly spirits that protect, but may also punish, their human constituents. These apu were often linked to distant ancestors and are considered the most important local deities. During the phase of the earliest highland Andean expansive states (ad 600–1000), the Wari and Tiwanaku utilized mountain worship as a means of establishing hegemony over local peoples who considered these mountains as places of ancestral origins. By usurping the apu, or including them in the pantheon of imperial deities, the expansive state effectively held these sacred places hostage and incorporated local belief systems into an imperial ideology. Recent research has yielded new clues to the worship of mountain peaks, including the usurpation of a unique geological mesa formation at Cerro Baúl as the basis for the Wari colonization of its southern frontier. Furthermore, research on the mountain summit has revealed architectural complexes oriented to, and presumably dedicated for, rites of veneration to the higher snowcapped volcanic peaks visible from this mountain summit.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2006
cognitive landscapes, architecture, state ideology, GIS viewshed analysis, Peru, Tiwanaku, archaeology

Email this document to