Advances in Anthropology
2013. Vol.3, No.4, 210-215
Published Online November 2013 in SciRes (
Open Access
Valley to Valley: The Biological Connection between Prehispanic
Residents of Cochabamba, Bolivia, and Azapa, Chile*
Héctor H. Vare la 1#, José A. Cocilovo1, Tyler G. O’Brien2
1Departamento de Ciencias N aturales, Facultad de Ciencias Exactas, Fís ico-Química y Naturales, Universidad
Nacional de Río Cuarto, Río Cuarto, Argentina
2Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Criminology, University of Northern Iowa, Baker 356,
Cedar Falls, Iowa
Received July 11th, 2013; revised August 14th, 2013; accepted September 12th, 2013
Copyright © 2013 Héctor H. Varela et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons
Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the
original work is properly cited.
One of the most interesting problems facing the interpretation of south central Andean prehistory is to de-
cipher the genetic relationships among ancient groups that inhabited this region. This study evaluates the
biological relationships between the ancient inhabitants of the coast and interior valleys of the Azapa re-
gion in northern Chile and the Cochabamba valleys of Bolivia, with reference to highland Tiwanaku
groups. Craniometric data (N = 299) were statistically evaluated to compute group means using Maha-
lanobis (D2) values. Results demonstrate that there is a notable difference between coastal and interior
valley populations of the Azapa region; whereas a close biological association exists between groups from
the Cochabamba valleys and the interior Azapa valleys, especially for those associated with the Formative
and Tiwanaku Periods.
Keywords: Craniometrics; Arica; Tiwanaku; South Central Andes
The study of Tiwanaku expansion and influence in other re-
gions of the south central Andes is of great interest. Its impor-
tant cultural development and bicultural impact are seen most
dramatically in places like southern Peru, northern Chile, parts
of Bolivia and northwest Argentina. In general, di fferent inves-
tigators agree that the imperial expansion into peripheral areas
like the Cochabamba valleys of Bolivia, Moquegua in Peru or
northern Chile was possible due to varied resource acquisition
strategies, such as trade and direct exploitations (Berenguer &
Dauelsberg, 1989; Kolata, 1993; Uribe & Agüero, 2001).
Some authors consider that the Azapa Valley in northern
Chile was one of the first places colonized by a Tiwanaku cul-
ture named Cabuza (500 - 1225 A.D.) that subsisted alongside
the local culture during the Formative or Alto Ramirez phase
(Berenguer & Dauelsberg, 1989; Berenguer, 2000). While other
researchers like Uribe (1999) and Uribe and Agüero (2001)
propose that the Tiwanaku-Azapa connection was less direct
and the relationship with the altiplano was maintained more di-
rectly through Moquegua in Peru.
For the Middle Period in Azapa (500 - 1290 A.D.), two ma-
jor ceramic traditions have been identified one from the altipla-
no and another from the western valleys (Espoueys et al., ms.;
Uribe, 1995, 1999, 2004). These represent non-sequential phas-
es of cultural historical development. Based on these results,
Agüero (2000) observes that in the Azapa Valley two types of
textile styles exist that, coincidentally relate quite closely to the
ceramic styles of the same areas. One textile type is related
more to styles of the Late Formative Period in the Cochabamba
valleys of Bolivia (e.g., Mojocoya and Omereque) and Middle
Period of the southern altiplano lakeside region. The second
textile type maintains stylistic affiliation with cultural groups
from southern Peru.
Many works have examined settlement patterns, population
structure, biological relationships, and evolution of human groups
that have inhabited the south central Andes (Cocilovo, 1981;
Rothhammer et al., 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984; Cocilovo & Di
Rienzo, 1984-85; Rothhammer & Silva, 1989; Baffi & Coci-
lovo, 1989-90; Cocilovo & Rothhammer, 1990; Dittmar, 1996;
Blom et al., 1998; Cocilovo et al., 1999a, 1999b, 2001, 2004;
O’Brien, 2003; Varela et al., 1999, 2004a, 2004b; Varela & Co-
cilovo, 2011; among others). The relationship network is exten-
sive and complicated. For example, it has been demonstrated
that morphological differences exist between the Azapa coastal
and valley groups of 3500 B.C. and 1470 A.D. In particular,
during the Alto Ramirez cultural phase of the Late Formative
Period (500 B.C. - 630 A.D.) a high rate of gene flow into the
Azapa valley is noted (Varela & Cocilovo, 2002). This occurr-
ed most likely as a consequence of multiple migrations over
time. This case will be examined in more detail later in this
*This project was supported financially by grants from Consejo Nacional de
Investigaciones Científicas y T écnicas (PIP 2405 /08), Secretaría de Cien cia
y Técnica-Universidad Nacional de Río Cuarto, Agencia Nacional de Pro-
moción Científica y Técnica (02210/07) of Argentina; a National Science
Foundation doctoral dissertation improvement grant (SBR 9903631), and
various faculty fellowships from the University of Northern Iowa, Cedar
#Correspo n ding author.
However, in other cases, like in Peru or Bolivia, it has been
shown that groups from highland Tiwanaku have a morpho-
logical similarity with those in Moquegua, Peru (Blom et al.,
1998). Lozada et al. (2004) found that coastal groups of Chiri-
baya in the Osmore Valley Basin (Southern Peru) are biologi-
cally similar from formative coastal population of Roca Verde,
while they did observe differences among Chiribaya and Chen
Chen Tiwanaku population in Moquegua (medium Osmore val-
ley). These results suggest a coastal origin of the Chiribaya.
While in the Cochabamba valleys of eastern Bolivia there was
only a minimal, if any, biological influence from the highlands
(O’Brien, 2003). In fact, the ancient inhabitants of the Cocha-
bamba valleys are more biologically related to groups for north-
ern Chile and northwest Argentina than the two latter groups
are to each other (Varela et al., 2008). Cochabamba is actually
more phenotypically similar to northwest Argentina groups. Of
those from northern Chile, Cochabamba is more related to
groups from sites like Arica, than those from places like Ata-
cama or Pisagua.
The objective of this paper is to evaluate the degree of mor-
phological similarity of Formative and Tiwanaku period groups
from the Cochabamba valleys of Eastern Bolivia with those
Formative and Middle period groups that resided in the coastal
and valley regions of Arica, Chile. Results will demonstrate im-
portant information related to the origins of the Azapa valley
groups in Chile as well as the degree of genetic exchange that
existed between Arica and Cochabamba. Additionally, they will
shine light on the archaeological question regarding the exis-
tence of area-specific ceramic and textile traditions, and an in-
terpretation of non-sequential cultural historical development in
Arica (Espoueys et al., ms.; Uribe, 1995, 1999; Agüero, 2000).
Materials and Methods
Three series of crania were utilized in this study: two are
from coastal and valley sites in the Azapa region (Arica) in
northern Chile and one from various sites in the Cochabamba
valleys of eastern Bolivia (see Figure 1). The Chilean crania
were examined at the Museo de Arqueología San Miguel de
Azapa in Arica while the Bolivian crania were studied at the
Museo Arqueológico in Cochabamba. As detailed in Table 1,
the entire study simple consisted of a total of 299 adult crania
(149 males and 150 females), non-deformed and artificially de-
formed (tabular and circular styles), corresponding to the Late
Archaic (Vera, 1981; Allison et al., 1984; Focacci & Chacón,
1989; Standen, 1991), Formative (Focacci, 1974; Rivera, 1977,
1987, 1991; Espoueys et al., ms.), Tiwanaku (Espoueys et al.,
ms.), Late Intermediate and Late periods (Hidalgo & Focacci,
1986) for the Azapa region and for the Formative and Ti-
wanaku periods for the Cochabamba valleys (O’Brien, 2003).
Sex and age at death determination was based on methods de-
veloped by Acsádi and Nemeskéri (1970), Bass (1981), Buik-
stra and Ubelaker (1994), Molnar (1971), and Lovejoy (1985).
Classification of artificial deformation and type was according
to Dembo and Imbelloni (1938).
The craniometric dimensions recorded were: maximum cra-
nial length (MAXCL), maximum cranial breadth (MAXCB),
maximum crani al he ight (BABH), upper facial breadth (UPFB),
upper facial height (UPFH), bizygomatic breadth (BIZYGB),
orbital height (ORH), basion-prosthion length (BAPRL), cra-
nial base length (CRNBSL) and nasal breadth (NZBR).
To analyze the relationships between the groups without the
infl ue nc e o f an oth er fa ct or of var ia t i on, the va r ia t io n d ue to s ex,
age and artificial deformation was extracted from the above
variables by linear regression (Seber, 1984). The samples that
correspond to the Late Archaic period for the Azapa region and
the Formative period for Cochabamba represent random subsets
of the total number of individuals available in the two groups,
since both had a large size relative with the rest of the periods.
In order to evaluate the biological relationships between the
Cochabamba and Arica groups, we compared the Formative
and Tiwanaku period groups from Cochabamba to those of the
Late Archaic, Early Intermediate, Middle and Late Interme diate,
and Late periods of the coast and valley sites of the Azapa re-
gion. To achieve this we employed multivariate analysis of va-
riance, canonical discriminant analysis and Mahalanobis’ D2
distance statistic (Rao, 1952; Seber, 1984). To display the re-
sults graphically a cluster analysis was performed (Kaufman &
Rousseeuw, 1990) using the UPGMA method and the previ-
ously calculated distances.
Figure 1.
Map of South Central Andean region with study sample locations and relevant geographic places.
Open Access 211
Table 1.
Study samples by group name, size, site, cultural phase and chronology.
Region Group Name (Code) N Site Cultural phase Chronology
Cochabamba Tiwanaku (CO-TI) 45
Mojocoya, Incallacta, Omereque,
Pojo Amano, Omereque
Mojocoya 500 - 1100 A.D.
Formative (CO-FO) 11
Vinto/Quillacollo, C liza -Chullpa pa ta,
Guillen Mojocoya
Tupuraya 0 - 500 A.D.
Azapa Late and late intermediate, coast
(AZ-LA-C) 46 PLM4, PLM3, CAM8, CHLL5 Inka/Hispanic,
Gentilar, San Miguel >147 0 A.D.
1100 - 1470 A .D.
Late intermediate, valley (AZ-LA-V) 56 AZ71, AZ105, AZ79, AZ8, AZ82,
LL12 San Miguel, Gentilar 990 - 1145 A.D.
Middle or tiwa naku, valle y
(AZ-TI-V) 12 AZ3, AZ103, AZ13 Cabuza, Maytas 500 - 1270 A.D .
Early intermedia t e or formative , coast
(AZ-FO-C) 47 PLM 7 El Laucho 530 B.C.
Early intermediat e or formative,
valley (AZ -FO-V) 38 AZ 14, AZ 70, AZ 115, AZ22 Alto Ramírez 500 B.C. - A.D 630
Late archaic, coas t
(AZ-AR-C) 44 Morro Uhle, Morro 1, M or ro 1-6 Chinchorro 3500 - 1700 B.C.
A significant difference exists (Wilks’ Lambda = 0.67726, F
(20,574) = 6.1743, p < 0.00001) when comparing the three
groups: the Cochabamba sample (CO) with the coastal group
from Azapa (AZ-C) and the one from the valley of Azapa (AZ-
V). In Table 2 one can see that the distance between CO and
AZ-V is 0.537, or in other words 2.6 times smaller than the
distance between CO and AZ-C (1.387), and 3.4 times smaller
than the distance that exists between AZ-C and AZ-V (1.812).
Of the two canonical coordinates obtained through discriminant
analysis, only the first of them exhibits statistical significance
between the groups, explaining 87% of the total variation;
while the second accounts for the remaining 13%.
The reclassification of the observations by discriminant func-
tions, using an equal a priori classification probability for the
three groups, shows that the percentage of correct assignment
was 66.7% (AZ-C), 53.8% (AZ-V) and 41.1% (CO) (see Table
3). In other words, 34.3% of the observations of the first group
(AZ-C) were reclassified as AZ-V (18.2%) or as CO (16.1%);
46.2% of the second group (AZ-V) were reclassified as AZ-C
(23.6%) or as CO (22.6%), and finally 58.9% of the third group
(CO) were reclassified as AZ-C (23.2%) or as AZ-V (35.7%).
When we studied the relationship between samples of dif-
ferent periods of the coast and the valley of Azapa and Cocha-
bamba valleys (see Table 1), the results also showed morpho-
logical differences among the eight groups compared (Wilks
Lambda: 0.47508, F (70.1651) = 3.2113, p < 0.0000). As seen
in Table 4, the smallest Mahalanobis (D2) distances between
any of the three groups occurred between the Cochabamba
Formative Period group (CO-FO) and the Azapa valley Early
Intermediate group (AZ-FO-V) with a value of 0.831. The other
smallest value occurred between the Cochabamba Tiwanaku
period group and the Azapa valley Early Intermediate group
(AZ-FO-V) with a value of 0.637. Neither value demonstrated
statistical significance. In fact, looking at all the Mahalanobis
(D2) distances in Table 4, it is evident that a closer affinity
exists between either of the two period Cochabamba groups
with the Azapa valley groups from any period than Cocha-
bamba has with the Azapa coast groups.
Table 2.
Mahalanobis distances (D2) between Cochabamba and the coastal and
valley sites of Azapa*.
AZ-C ------- 1.812 1.387
AZ-V 0.000 ------- 0.537
CO 0.000 0.044 -------
Note: *Mahalanobis values (D2) are presented in the upper half of the matrix and
probabilities in the lower h a lf. F = 10 and 287 d.f.
Table 3.
Number and percentage of cases correctly classified in each group by
the discriminant functions*.
AZ-C AZ-V CO Total
AZ-C 90 (65.7) 25 (18.2) 22 (16.1) 137
AZ-V 25 (23.6) 57 (53.8) 24 (22.6) 106
CO 13 (23.2) 20 (35.7) 23 (41.1) 56
Total 128 102 69 299
Note: *Number in parentheses is the proportion.
The difference between all eight samples analyzed can be de-
monstrated by the first three discriminant canonical variables
which account for 86% of the total between-groups variation
(55%, 19% and 12%, respectively). The remaining 13% is ex-
plained by the fourth canonical variable.
The distribution of the Cochabamba and Azapa samples from
various temporal periods, based on the centroids of the first and
second canonical variables, is displayed in Figure 2. On the
right side of the plot the Cochabamba valley Formative (CO-
FO) and Tiwanaku period (CO-TI) groups are more closely
relationship with the Azapa valley groups, in particular the one
from the Early Intermediate (AZ-FO-V). In addition, groups
Azapa coast differ from the rest of the samples, being located in
the lower portion of the graph to the left.
In order to visually display inter-group biological similarity,
Mahalanobis (D2) distances between all of the groups are plot-
ed in a dendrogram in Figure 3. In this manner, two major t
Open Access
Table 4.
Mahalanobis (D2) distances between Cochabamba and Azapa groups*.
Azapa-Coast Azapa-Valley Cochabamba
AZ-AR-C ------- 1.040 0.706 1.591 2.593 2.662 2.283 1.056
AZ-FO-C 0.013 ------- 1.431 2.775 2.181 4.175 3.904 1.993
AZ-LA-C 0.126 0.001 ------- 1.831 3.312 2.560 3.115 1.625
AZ-FO-V 0.001 0.000 0.000 ------- 1.901 1.321 0.831 0.637
AZ-TI-V 0.011 0.031 0.001 0.085 ------- 2.998 2.708 1.524
AZ-LA-V 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.002 0.002 ------- 1.705 1.339
CO-FO 0.039 0.000 0.004 0.737 0.137 0.132 ------- 0.813
CO-TI 0.014 0.000 0.000 0.246 0.180 0.001 0.727 -------
Note: *Mahalanobis values for D2 are presented in t he upper half of the matrix and probabilities in the lower half. F = 10 and 282 d.f. G roup codes are in Table 1.
clusters stand out: one constituted by all of the Azapa coastal
samples, and the other constructed of into two smaller clusters,
one being the Cochabamba groups from both temporal periods
(CO-FO, CO-TI) with the Azapa valley Early Intermediate
(AZ-FO-V) along with a another being the Azapa valley groups
from the Middle and Late periods (AZ-TI-V and AZ-LA-V).
The cross-temporal interpretation of the strong phenotypic
and genotypic relationships that exist between some of the
groups studied, when applying a population genetics perspec-
tive, implies an elevated level of migration between regions,
that is to say a high level of gene flow. The apparent observed
relationship among the Azapa valley and Cochabamba groups
(see Table 2) would indicate a close common origin and a high
level of genetic interaction between them in contrast to one
with the inhabitants of the Azapa coast. More specifically, the
biodistances derived from the craniometric analysis of groups
from different regions and temporal periods (see Table 4 and
Figures 2 and 3) suggest that those ancient inhabitants who
resided in the Cochabamba valleys (i.e., Tupuraya, Mojocoya
and Omereque) during the Formative (0 - 500 A.D.) and Ti-
wanaku (500 - 1100 A.D.) periods are strongly related to those
ancient inhabitants of the Azapa valley, particularly to those of
the Formative period (500 B.C. - 630 A.D.) of the Alto Rami-
rez culture, and with the Cabuza and Maytas cultures of the
Tiwanaku period (500 - 1270 A.D.). In other words, the early
migrants who traveled west from the Cochabamba valleys and
who settled in the Azapa valley, during the Early Intermediate
or Formative periods, eventually interbred with the local popu-
lation, hence increasing the genetic variability (Varela & Co-
cilovo, 2002; Varela et al., 2006).
According to O’Brien (2003), biological distances derived
from an analysis of both metric and non-metric cranial traits
reveals morphological continuity among ancient groups of the
Cochabamba valleys with a notable discontinuity between them
and residents of highland sites of Tiwanaku and the Katari ba-
sin. Additionally, Blom and colleagues (1998) have shown,
through an analysis of non-metric traits, that Tiwanaku period
inhabitants of the Moquegua valley are more closely affiliated,
biologically, with highland residents of Tiwanaku and the
Katari basin than earlier groups of the valley. Furthermore, uti-
lizing a similar methodology, Lozada and colleagues (2004)
-1.2 -1.0 -0.8 -0.6 -0.4 -
Coordinate 1
Coordinate 2
Figure 2.
Distribution of the Cochabamba and Azapa samples by cultural period
based on the first (55%) and second (19%) canonical coordinates.
Linkage Distance
Figure 3.
Dendrogram representing the Mahalanobis distances (D2) of the Cocha-
bamba and Azapa samples using the UPGMA method.
examined Chiribaya groups (750 - 1100 A.D.) from the Osmore
coast of southern Peru. Those groups were found to be more bi-
ologically related with coastal residents from earlier periods
Open Access 213
than they are with Tiwanaku residents of Chen Chen in Moque-
gua. Agreeing with this, in Azapa we demonstrated that coastal
populations are more related to each other than with respect to
interior valleys groups (Figure 3).
There is very little doubt over the amount of hegemonic
power Tiwanaku had in the area. Some archaeologists consider
that the Tiwanaku colonists, called Cabuza, settled in the Azapa
valley region and lived alongside, for some time, the Formative
period group known as Alto Ramirez (Berenguer & Dauels-
berg, 1989; Berenguer, 2000). While others argue that localities
like: Azapa in northern Chile, Ilo on the south coast of Peru, or
Omereque and Mizque in the eastern valleys of Bolivia exhibit
a stronger relationship with those of Moquegua and Cocha-
bamba, respectively, than with groups from the Tiwanaku high-
lands (Uribe & Agüero, 2001). In fact, our results support Agü-
ero’s (2000) contention that the textile tradition that existed
during the Late Formative and Middle periods in Azapa, and
the ones from the Cochabamba valley region (Omereque &
Mojocoya) are closely associated. Thus, the biological variabil-
ity that existed in Azapa supports the proposition of non-se-
quential cultural historical development for the region (Es-
poueys et al., ms.; Uribe, 1995, 1999, 2004).
The differences observed between the coastal and valley
groups of the Azapa region during the Late Intermediate and
Late periods corroborate the conclusions drawn by Varela and
Cocilovo (2002). In other words, the results support the ethno-
historical hypothesis that there was a marked social and eco-
nomic difference between the inhabitants of the coast who spe-
cialized in obtaining maritime resources and those of the inte-
rior valleys who were more agricultural based (Rostworowsky,
1981, 1986; Schiappacasse & Niemeyer, 1989).
In conclusion, our study shows that the cultural change ob-
served during the Early Intermediate Period of the Azapa Val-
ley was accompanied by an increase in biological variability
due to gene flow over time from other regions, in particular
those from the eastern valleys of Cochabamba, Bolivia. The
established results from this work and those of previous studies
should be interpreted under a general model of economic, cul-
tural and biological exchange between both regions and smaller
areas across the south central Andes and across time. The direc-
tion and intensity of this network of interaction and exchange
varies across time and space. In this respect, the movement of
materials and ideologies did not necessarily have the same im-
pact as did the amount of gene flow from the incoming popula-
tions to the region. That is to say, the influence of biological
exchange could be equal, more or less to the influence of cul-
tural or economic factors.
The authors would like to acknowledge the assistance, sup-
port and encouragement from a number of people who helped
with this manuscript in various aspects of the project in general:
Ingrid Carlstein, and the faculty and staff at the various muse-
ums and institutions that curate the collections of crania utilized
in this study, like the Museo Arqueológico in Cochabamba,
Bolivia, the Museo Nacional de Historia Natural in Santiago,
Chile, and the Museo de Arqueología San Miguel de Azapa in
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