Title

Ancient Calendars and Bolivian Modernity: Tiwanaku’s Gateway of the Sun, Arthur Posnansky, and the World Calendar Movement of the 1930s

Publication Date

Summer 7-2012

Journal

Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology

Volume

17

Issue

2

First Page

299

Last Page

319

Abstract

Tourists to the archaeological site of Tiwanaku are presented with ancient calendars, of which the Gateway of the Sun is the most important, famous, and beautiful. Arthur Posnansky and other early 20th-century archaeologists claimed that its inscriptions constituted a written calendar. These claims were intimately connected to narratives of Tiwanaku as a central source of knowledge in both pre-Columbian times and the contemporary world. Posnansky presented his interpretation of Tiwanaku’s calendars as a response to the debates of the World Calendar Movement, which in the 1930s was attempting to rationalize the Gregorian calendar. In the Gateway, Posnansky found a uniquely Bolivian response to the international, North Atlantic-dominated scientific community’s search for a rational way to keep time in the world economy. Bolivian intellectuals merged their interest in the indigenous past with their concerns about the role of the modernist Bolivian state in the global system.

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