Annotated Bibliography

The following list provides brief summaries and abstracts of selected publications presented in chronological order. PDFs of publications can be found under the separate sub-headings (e.g., "Andes" etc.). 
See the list in "Publications" for full references. 

Inca Rituals and Sacred Mountains: A Study of the World's Highest Archaeological Sites (2010)

Abstract: The Incas carried out some of the most dramatic ceremonies known to us from ancient times. Groups of people walked hundreds of miles across arid and mountainous terrain to perform them on mountains over 6,096 m (20,000 feet) high. The most important offerings made during these pilgrimages involved human sacrifices (capacochas). Although Spanish chroniclers wrote about these offerings and the state sponsored processions of which they were a part, their accounts were based on second-hand sources, and the only direct evidence we have of the capacocha sacrifices comes to us from archaeological excavations. Some of the most thoroughly documented of these were undertaken on high mountain summits, where the material evidence has been exceptionally well preserved. In this study we describe the results of research undertaken on Mount Llullaillaco (6,739 m/22,109 feet), which has the world's highest archaeological site. The types of ruins and artifact assemblages recovered are described and analyzed. By comparing the archaeological evidence with the chroniclers' accounts and with findings from other mountaintop sites, common patterns are demonstrated; while at the same time previously little known elements contribute to our understanding of key aspects of Inca religion. This study illustrates the importance of archaeological sites being placed within the broader context of physical and sacred features of the natural landscape.

Machu Picchu: Exploring an Ancient Sacred Center (2007)

Abstract: The site of Machu Picchu is considered one of the best preserved examples of a major Inca site. However, basic questions as to why it was built in such a difficult location and what meaning it had remain unanswered. In this book Machu Picchu is examined from the perspective of sacred geography. Utilizing ethnographical, historical and archaeological data, it is demonstrated that the site is situated in the center of sacred mountains and in association with a sacred river which is in turn linked with the sun's passage, thereby forming a cosmological, hydrological and sacred geographical center for the region in which it is situated. Some key architectural features at Machu Picchu and nearby sites are also examined and interpreted as forming parts of this ceremonial center, where economic, political and religious factors combined to lead to their construction in one of the most rugged areas of Peru.

Cloud Diving (2007)

Summary: An Account of sky diving into the city of Vienna--by mistake.

The Ice Maiden: Inca Mummies, Mountain Gods, and Sacred Sites in the Andes (2005)   

From the front cover: Half a millennium ago, a party of Inca priests and a young virgin climbed more than 20,000 feet to the summit of the Andean peak of Ampato. At the climax of their ceremony, the girl was sacrificed and buried along with sacred offerings of textiles, food, and figurines of silver and gold; there the Inca Ice Maiden would remain undisturbed for 500 years, until Johan Reinhard found her in 1995. In his first-hand account, Reinhard chronicles more than two decades of challenging research that led him on over 200 climbs of some of the world’s highest mountains, and culminated in two seasons of unprecedented finds – first the Ice Maiden on Ampato, and a four years later on Llullaillaco, where three Inca children lay frozen in a state of near-perfect preservation. This extraordinarily vivid eyewitness account documents two of the most important discoveries in the history of South American archaeology. A riveting tale that takes the long forgotten and makes it unforgettable, it represents at once a momentous scientific achievement and a priceless contribution to the cultural heritage of the Incas’ descendants in Peru and Argentina.

Sacred Mountains, Ceremonial Sites, and Human Sacrifice Among the Incas (2005)

Summary: The Incas made offerings on mountain summits over 6,096 m (20,000 ft) high. The most important these involved human sacrifices (capacochas). In this study we summarize the results of research undertaken on several Andean summits, comparing the archaeological evidence with the chroniclers' accounts. This study illustrates the importance of archaeological sites being placed within the broader context of the physical and sacred landscape and of investigating how these may be in turn be associated with astronomical observations and alignments.

Into the Hidden Crater--An Andean Adventure (2003)   

Summary: This article describes an expedition in 1986 during which we climbed the major peaks on the border of what we had come to call the "Hidden Crater." (It has since been named the “Caldera del Inca” [Cauldron of the Inca] by the Argentines.)  Along the way, we located pre-Hispanic ruins, collected mineral and plankton samples, explored the "Hidden Crater," and carried out a scuba dive in a lake (5,300 m /17,388 ft) on the southern foot of Pissis (6,882 m/22,578 ft). The crater is located in the midst of one of the world's greatest volcanic complexes, with the densest concentration of 6,000 m peaks outside of Asia.  Six of the thirteen mountains over 6,500 m in the Americas are found in this region: Pissis, Ojos del Salado, Bonete, Tres Cruces, Cazadero, and Incahuasi. Nacimiento, Veladero, and El Muerto are three of the six remaining peaks over 6,400 m—and there are others over 6,000 m that join them within an area extending no more than 150 km (93 miles) in distance.

Sacred Landscape: The Prehistoric Cultures of the Andes (2002)

Abstract: The Inca created the largest empire in the ancient Americas. However, it was the result of cultural developments that had taken place for over two millennia previously. During that period, three cultures particularly stand out: Chavin, Nazca, and Tiahuanaco. This is in part due to archaeological remains that have survived to the present day, including massive stonework requiring superior engineering skills and a complex social organization. All three cultures have been considered among the great mysteries of South American archaeology and fundamental questions remain as to why they built ceremonial structures where they did and what they meant. Recent research points to the sacred landscape as being a key to a better understanding of these cultures.

A High Altitude Archaeological Survey in Northern Chile (2002)

Abstract: This paper presents the results of a brief investigation of ten mountains undertaken in 1983 in Lauca and Isluga National Parks in northern Chile, including Taapaca, Parinacota, Guallatiri, Isluga, Guane Guane, Belen, and Marques. Archaeological sites were surveyed on five of the summits and ethnographic information was collected in villages located near them. An Inca statue was discovered on the surface at the summit site of Mt. Taapaca (5,815 m/19,073 ft). The survey helps extend our knowledge of the distribution and types of archaeological sites in northern Chile. 

Investigaciones Arqueológicas en el Volcán Llullaillaco (2000)

Summary:An archaeological monograph in Spanish of the initial results of the excavations and findings made on Mt. Llullaillaco in Argentina in 1999.

Frozen in Time (1999)   

Summary: This popular article summarizes the discovery of three perfectly preserved frozen mummies on Mt. Llullaillaco (22,100 ft) in Argentina in 1999.  

Coropuna: Lost Mountain Temple of the Incas (1999) & Coropuna: Templo y Montaña de las Incas (2001)

Abstract: Although Coropuna was called the fifth most important temple in the Inca empire in the sixteenth century, its exact location and meaning has remained a matter of conjecture.  In this article archaeological data is presented which describes a recently discovered Inca site at the base of the mountain Coropuna.  Ecological, historical, and ethnographic information supports the conclusion that it was likely the temple of Coropuna and that it was built there due to Coropuna having played an important role as a protector deity and controller of livestock and agricultural fertility for a vast region.

Discovering the Inca Ice Maiden (1998)

Note: This is a book for students (through K-12) summarizing the discovery of the Ice Maiden and two other Inca human sacrifices on Mt. Ampato in Peru in 1995.  

From the Introduction: The erupting volcano of Sabancaya spewed out clouds of ash over a mile into the sky. Wind carried the ash over Sabancaya’s higher neighbor, the snow-capped volcano Ampato. Eventually Ampato’s summit was covered with the dark ash, which slowly began absorbing the sun’s rays. After four years the weight of melting snow caused a section of Ampato’s summit ridge to collapse. It crashed down the slope into the crater. Within this mix of falling ice and rock was a cloth-wrapped bundle. Suddenly, the bundle smashed against an icy outcrop about 200 feet below. An outer cloth was torn open—and five hundred year-old Inca artifacts were strewn over the rugged landscape. But the most important part of the bundle remained intact as it came to rest on top of the ice: It was the frozen body of an Inca child. Now a race against time began. Before long the body could be destroyed by the sun and volcanic ash—or stolen by treasure hunters.

The Temple of Blindness: An Investigation of the Inca Shrine of Ancocagua (1998) 

From the Introduction: Ancocagua must be one of the most enigmatic Inca sites mentioned in the historical documents. Writing in 1553, the renowned Spanish chronicler of Inca customs, Cieza de Leon (1977:107), listed it as the fourth most important temple in the Inca empire. Yet there was no description of the site nor of its exact location, and this naturally gave rise to some basic questions. Where was it situated? Why was it so important? Given its significance, why did so few of the Spanish writers refer to it? The only way one could hope to answer these questions was by gathering together the historical references and investigating the region in which the site might be located.

New Inca Mummies (1998)

Abstract: A description of the discoveries of Inca artifacts and human sacrifices on the summits of Pichu Pichu and Sara Sara in southern Peru in 1996.   

Sharp Eyes of Science Probe the Mummies of Peru (1997)

Abstract: Describes scientific research being conducted with the Inca mummies found on Mt. Ampato, mainly concerning the CAT-Scan of the ice maiden and a study of the lightning strike of another mummy. 

Peru’s Ice Maidens (1996)   

Abstract: This popular article summarizes the discovery of the Ice Maiden and two other Inca human sacrifices on Mt. Ampato in Peru in 1995.  

The Lore of a Desert Dive (1996)

Summary: A description of the first underwater investigation of the sacred Lake Chiu Chiu and associated folklore (Atacama Desert, Chile).

House of the Sun: The Inca Temple of Vilcanota (1995)

Abstract: Although the ceremonial center of Vilcanota was called the third most important temple in the Inca empire in the sixteenth century, its exact location and meaning has remained a matter of conjecture. In this article historical and archaeological information is examined which demonstrates that the temple was located at the pass of La Raya. Ecological and ethnographic data from the region supports the conclusion that it was built at La Raya due to its association with sacred rivers and mountains which were in turn linked with fertility concepts, the birth of the sun, and an ecological/political boundary. Together these factors made the place of special significance to Inca religion.

Llullaillaco: An Investigation of the World's Highest Archaeological Site (1993) & Llullaillaco: Investigacion del Yacimiento Arqueológico más Alto del Mundo (1997)

Abstract: On the border of Argentina and Chile lies the high, isolated volcano of Llullaillaco. At an altitude of 22,109 ft (6,739m) it is considered to be the seventh highest mountain in the Americas, and Inca ruins exist on its summit. This article presents survey data collected at sites leading to and up the mountain and at its summit complex. It describes how a combination of factors led to the construction of one of the most important Inca ceremonial complexes in the southern part of their empire and to one of the most awesome achievements of ancient man in the Americas...the world's highest archaeological site.

Underwater Archaeological Research in Lake Titicaca, Bolivia (1992)

Abstract: Lake Titicaca was considered one of the most sacred lakes in the Andes prior to the Spanish conquest of 1532. Tiahuanaco, the center of a civilization that played a dominant role in South America for nearly a millennium, was located near it, and an island in the lake was of key importance in Inca religion. Numerous legends arose about treasures and even cities in the lake, but investigations resulted in few finds. In this article a recent discovery of an underwater site is described. Artifacts from both the Tiahuanaco and Inca periods were located, and systematic archaeological techniques were utilized underwater during the study. Both the site and the archaeological remains are analyzed within the context of pre-Hispanic and current day beliefs about Lake Titicaca and the surrounding sacred landscape.

Sacred Peaks of the Andes (1992)   

Summary: This popular article summarizes archaeological and ethnographic research (until 1991) on sacred landscape in the Andes.

Exploraciones Arqueológicas Subacuáticas en el Lago Titikaka (1992)

Summary: This is a volume that brings together several articles relating to underwater archaeology in Lake Titicaca, Bolivia. 

An Archaeological Investigation of Inca Ceremonial Platforms on the Volcano Copiapo, Central Chile (1992)

Abstract: This essay describes the excavation of an Inca artificial platform at 6,050 m/19,849’ on the summit of the volcano Copiapo in central Chile and interprets the site and artifacts uncovered utilizing ethnographical, historical and archaeological data from the region and from Peru. Since the platform was undisturbed, this allowed a study of the relationships of the artifacts to each other and thus the development of a model with which to compare data from other high altitude ritual sites. Artifacts encountered include rare Inca statues with miniature clothing perfectly preserved.

Tiahuanaco, Sacred Center of the Andes (1990) & Tiwanaku: Ensayo sobre su cosmovisión (1991)

From the Introduction: The monumental complex of structures at Tiahuanaco (Tiwanaku), Bolivia, constitutes one of the most impressive archaeological sites in South America. It is situated at 3,845m (12,615') about 20 km to the southeast of Lake Titicaca in one of the most important river valleys of the region. Amid an urban center, nearly 2,000 years ago, large monoliths were used in making religious structures. This urban-ceremonial complex was the center for a civilization that lasted over a thousand years--longer than the Roman Empire.

The site has been well documented and is visited yearly by thousands of tourists.  However, it remains one of the greatest mysteries of South American archaeology, and fundamental questions have not yet been answered.  Why was it built?  Why was it constructed where it was?  What do the figures etched in stone mean?  In this article I will be examining Tiahuanaco from the perspective of beliefs relating to mountain/fertility cults found throughout the Andes in an attempt to better understand its location, function and iconography.

Heights of Interest (1990)

From the Introduction: It seems strange that in this age of computers and moon landings we still do not know which are the highest mountains in our own hemisphere. In the more distant and less accessible Himalaya we have an accurate idea of the relative altitudes of the major peaks, although even there a controversy arose a couple of years ago about Everest's true height. In South America, where the highest mountains of the western hemisphere are to be found, we are not even sure which peaks should be considered, let alone what their relative heights might be. In this article I will present an overview of the current situation based largely upon my research in South America, which by chance has led me to climb some of the highest known mountains and offered up a few surprises about some lesser-known ones as well. 

Informe Sobre una Seccion del Camino Inca (1990)

Summary: A description of the discovery of an Inca road section and ruins found on the ridge to the west of Machu Picchu between the Aobamba and Santa Teresa Rivers.

The Nazca Lines: A New Perspective on their Origin and Meaning (1988) & Las Lineas de Nazca: Un Nuevo Enfoque Sobre su Origin y Significado (1988)

NOTE: The 4th edition of this book in English was published in 1988, and it was the last one to be revised, although there were several later printings, including as an eBook in 2010. The 2nd edition of this book in Spanish was published in 1988 and was also the last to be revised.

Abstract: The lines and figures (geoglyphs) constructed on the desert surface near Nazca have been called "one of the most baffling enigmas of archaeology." Here they are analyzed in terms of mountain/fertility concepts found widely throughout the Andes. Theories to explain the geoglyphs are briefly examined. Ethnographic and historical data are presented to demonstrate that mountain worship was important at Nazca from ancient to recent times. Comparative data relating to geoglyphs in other areas are also used in the development of a theory to explain the lines and figures as part of religious practices designed primarily to insure the fertility of crops.

Chavín y Tiahuanaco: Una Nueva Perspectiva de Dos Centros Ceremoniales Andinos (1987)   

NOTE: This article was published in two parts in Spanish (see full reference above), with the first focusing on Chavin de Huantar. It is a revised and expanded version of the section on Chavin  published in an article with a similar title in English in 1985, and thus is more useful for the interested reader. (The revised and expanded versions of the section on Tiahuanaco are noted above and appeared in 1990 and 1991.)  

Abstract: In a remote area of the central Peruvian Andes a religious center was built which was to be one of the most important archaeological sites in South America. The ceremonial center of Chavín de Huantar gave its name to a style of iconography that came to be found over a vast area of the central Andes. Although the site is located in the east side of the Cordillera Blanca at 3135 m/10,285 ft amidst rugged mountain terrain, it lasted nearly a millennium--longer than the Roman Empire. The ruins at Chavin de Huantar have been well documented and they are visited yearly by thousands of tourists.  However fundamental questions have only begun to be answered. Why was it built and why was it located where it was?  In this article I will be examining the site from the perspective of beliefs relating to mountain/fertility cults found in the region and throughout the Andes in an attempt to better understand its location, function and iconography. 

The Sacred Himalaya (1987)

Summary: A popular description of the importance of sacred mountains in Hinduism and Tibetan Buddhism.

Sacred Mountains: An Ethnoarchaeological Study of High Andean Ruins (1985) & Las Montañas Sagradas: Un Estudio Etnoarqueológico de Ruinas en las Altas Cumbres Andinas (1983)  

NOTE: The 1985 English article is a slightly revised version of the 1983 Spanish article.

Abstract: Ancient ritual sites have been found on Andean mountain summits up to 6,700 m. In several areas they constitute the most important pre-Hispanic religious structures. Following a discussion of the origin of the sites, a synthesis is presented of historical and ethnographic data from a broad area of the Andes concerning the reasons for mountain worship. It was found that mountains were venerated primarily due to their control of weather and water sources and thus the fertility of crops and animals. Earlier theories to explain the sites are briefly examined.  It is concluded that mountain worship helped to unify Andean peoples through shared symbols and rites and is of great antiquity, being based on sound ecological principles. Its study leads to a better understanding of concepts fundamental to traditional Andean culture.

Chavin and Tiahuanaco: A New Look at Two Andean Ceremonial Centers (1985)

NOTE: This article was later revised and expanded, with the Chavin section published in Spanish in 1987 and the Tiahuanaco section published in English in 1990 and in Spanish in 1991 (see above).

Abstract:  The ancient ceremonial centers of Chavin and Tiahuanaco have been considered among the most important archaeological sites in South America.  Nonetheless, their location, function, and iconography remain largely unexplained.  In this essay the centers are analyzed in terms of mountain and fertility concepts found widely throughout the Andes. Historical and ethnographic data demonstrate that mountain worship for the fertility of crops and animals was important in the regions where the sites are located. The central hypothesis is that the locations of the centers were selected because of their positions relative to the most sacred landscape features in each region and that mountain worship was a principal reason for their construction. 

High-Altitude Archaeology and Andean Mountain Gods (1983)   

Summary: A popular description of high-altitude archaeology and the importance of sacred mountains in the Andes.  

Expedición Arqueológica al Altiplano de Tarapacá y sus Cumbres (1982)

Abstract: An expedition in 1981 to investigate archaeological sites in the altiplano region of Tarapacá (northern Chile) is described. Archaeological remains were found and surveyed on the summits of Tata Jachura (5,252 m), Jatamalla (4.700 m) and Wanapa (5,365 m). They represent the first high mountain sites found in the area between 16°21' S and 21°11' S latitudes. Information concerning current-day mountain worship and legends about these and nearby mountains was collected. These data support the hypothesis that the Incas constructed the sites in order to worship mountain deities which were believed important because they controlled the fertility of crops and animals. Several lower-lying sites were also registered and two of these were of particular interest: the ruins at Inkaguano demonstrate that it was an important Inca complex in this region and that Sinaguache was a major population center prior to the Inca period. 

Expedición Arqueológica al Volcán Licancabur (1981)

Abstract: Licancabur has long been considered to be one of Chile's most famous volcanoes. This is not simply due to its size (5,921 m/19,426 ft), for there are other peaks in the area that are higher. It is the combination of altitude, nearly perfect conical shape, and dominating position overlooking the important oasis of San Pedro de Atacama that have helped make Licancabur so well known today. The discovery of an Inca ceremonial site on its summit demonstrated that it had also played a significant role in pre-Hispanic times. This article presents the results of the first systematic survey of the more than 150 structures in the Inca tambo (way station) at the volcano's base (4,600 m/15,092 ft), of the complexes located at 4,900 m/16,076 ft and on the summit, and of a diving investigation in the summit's crater lake. 

Ascensión al Volcán Licancabur y Otros Nevados (1980)   

Summary: A preliminary report on archaeological investigations undertaken in 1980 of the mountains Licancabur, Chiliques, Miscanti, Juriques, Miscanti, Lejia and Mullay. 

Khembalung: The Hidden Valley (1978)   

Abstract: There are few people in the West who have not heard of Shangri-la, the peaceful and prosperous valley hidden from the outside world among snow-capped peaks high in the Himalayas.  Less well known, however, is the belief that Guru Rinpoche, the Indian Buddhist yogin accredited with firmly establishing Buddhism in Tibet in the eighth century A.D, established several "hidden valleys" (beyul) while he traveled through the Himalayas.  When war and evil envelop mankind, these valleys are to serve as refuges for Buddhist doctrine and followers of Buddhism. Among Tibetan Buddhists, Khembalung (Khenpalung) is one of the best known of those beyul thought to exist in Nepal. This article discusses the concepts underlying the beliefs about hidden valleys and describes a journey in 1977 that traveled through the area believed to be Khembalung.  A translation of an ancient Tibetan text describing  the beyul is provided in an appendix. 

Nepal Cross-Cultural Trainers' Manual (1978)

Summary: Teaching techniques and information for Nepal Peace Corps cross-cultural training courses.

The Ban Rajas: A Vanishing Tribe (1976)   

Abstract: Very little was known about the Ban Raja (Kusunda) tribe, which has nearly disappeared. In the recent past, they were nomadic and lived by hunting and gathering. Only a few still speak their native language, which is a linguistic isolate and may be the only surviving language preceding the introduction of Tibeto-Burman and Indo-European language families into the Himalayas. A summary is presented of what remains of their culture. [This includes information gathered after the author's publications about the Kusunda that appeared in 1968 and 1969.]

Shamanism and Spirit Possession: The Definition Problem (1976)

Abstract: The word “shamanism” has been used in many different ways, both in popular and scientific publications. Clearly defined terms allow improved communication and comparability, and in this article a definition is proposed that attempts to meet formal definition criteria, while maintaining key concepts about shamanism commonly found in the anthropological literature.

Shamanism among the Raji of Southwest Nepal (1976)   

Abstract: Small groups of the Tibeto-Burman speaking Raji tribe are found spread throughout West Nepal. Their total population does not exceed 1500, and the population of the Purbia (eastern) Raji, with whom we are concerned here, probably does not number more than 600. They are renowned as boatmen and fishermen, who have now settled and become agriculturalists in various parts of southwest Nepal. This article examines the beliefs and practices of the Raji shaman (gurau), who is the most important religious functionary in community ceremonies, besides being a curer of illnesses.

The Raute: Notes on a Nomadic Hunting and Gathering Tribe of Nepal (1974)   

Abstract:The Raute are one of the last nomadic hunting and gathering tribes left in Asia.  Numbering only about 150, they still speak their own Tibeto-Burman language and maintain a way of life unique in the Himalayas. They travel through the middle hill region of West Nepal living in lean-tos and hunting monkeys with nets, gathering forest produce, and trading wooden bowls with villagers. This article summarizes information collected about the Raute during January-April 1969. 

Preliminary Linguistic Analysis & Vocabulary of the Kusunda Language (1970)

Abstract: Very little was known about this tribe until Johan Reinhard located them in central Nepal in 1968. Only a few still speak their native language, which is a linguistic isolate and may be the only surviving language preceding the introduction of Tibeto-Burman and Indo-European language families into the Himalayas. This paper presents a preliminary linguistic analysis and vocabulary of one of the world's rarest languages,now on the verge of extinction. 

The Dhangar:  A Dravidian Tribe in Nepal (1970)   

Abstract: The Dravidian speaking tribes have long been thought to be located almost exclusively in central and southern India. Only one small Dravidian tribe, the Maler, has been found located as far north as the southern side of the Ganges River. This article briefly describes the Dhangar, a tribe located near the foothills of the Himalayas in Nepal. The author demonstrates that it is an offshoot of the Oraon, a Dravidian speaking tribe of Chota Nagpur, India. 

Preliminary Report on Pottery Making in the Kathmandu Valley, Nepal (1969) & Newar, Kumhale Caste (Nepal)-Pottery-Making (1977)

Abstract: Pottery making in the Katmandu Valley is traditionally the occupation of the Kumhale, a Newar potter caste. This article describes the pottery making process from the collection of clay to the firing of the finished pots.

Preliminary Report on Wood Working in Nepal (1969) Newar, Udhas Caste (Nepal) - Construction of a Water Pipe (1977)

Abstract: Wood carvers (sikarmi) are found spread throughout the Katmandu Valley and generally form a subcaste of the Newar, one of the largest Tibeto-Burman speaking ethnic groups of Nepal. There are basically two kinds of carpenters, those who work on wood sculptures using hand tools and those who work with a lathe. Those using the latter devote most of their time making water pipes (hukkas). The hukka-making process is described here. 

The Kusunda: Ethnographic Notes on a Hunting Tribe of Nepal (1968) & Aperçu sur les Kusunda: peuple chasseur du Népal (1969) 

Abstract: During the spring of 1968, the author managed to make contact with a few Kusunda in central Nepal. Very little was known about this tribe, which had nearly disappeared. In the recent past, they were nomadic and lived by hunting and gathering. Today, practically speaking, they live a sedentary life. Only a few still speak their native language, which is a linguistic isolate and may be the only surviving language preceding the introduction of Tibeto-Burman and Indo-European language families into the Himalayas. A summary is presented of what remains of their culture.