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Valley of the Spirits: A Journey Into the Lost Realm of the Aymara

Valley of the Spirits: A Journey Into the Lost Realm of the Aymara

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In a secluded valley high in the Andes Mountains, long before thetime of the Incas and the Aztecs, the empire of the Aymara rosefrom the shores of Lake Titicaca and flourished for nearly athousand years. The secrets of the Aymara civilization, one of thefirst great empires of the Americas, have only recently beendeciphered from the haunting ruins of their splendid temples, amongwhich their contemporary descendants still live and worktoday.

In Valley of the Spirits, Alan Kolata takes us deep into themystical world of the Aymara, where past and present come togetherand the spirits of ancient ancestors still speak to shamans in thevoices of mountain springs. Kolata's unique knowledge of the Aymarais based on 17 years of research at the site of the ancientempire.

Its crown jewel was the dazzling ancient capital of Tiahuanaco, whose gold and silver-appointed temples and monumental stonesculptures intensified the mythic aura of the city, imbuing it witha quality of the supernatural. From A.D. 400-1100, it was thespiritual center of the Andean world. According to Aymara myth, thecreator god Viracocha brought man to life from the springs androcks of Tiahuanaco's sacred landscape.

The city's rich symbolism linked man inextricably to the majesticplan--and the cyclical fates--of nature. Royal priests performedelaborate animal and human sacrifices and buried human trophy headsand the mummified remains of Aymara kings in lavish religiouspageants. So impressive was the legacy of Tiahuanaco that the Incarulers claimed descent from the Aymara kings more than 500 yearsafter the empire's mysterious catastrophic demise.

Kolata deciphers the mysteries of the ancient monuments, from themassive Akapana pyramid, the symbol of sacred mountains, and offertility and abundance, to the imposing archway known as theGateway of the Sun, among the most exquisite artistic monuments ofthe ancient Americas. And he takes us into the contemporary worldof the Aymara as well, where shamans recite the names of ancestralspirits in a hypnotic protocol of remembrance and homage to LadyEarth and Lord Sky.

To anyone fascinated by the total experience of humans, to anyonewho wishes to go beyond the familiar world, to anyone wanting topush the envelope of their own perceptions, a sojourn into the mindand history of the Aymara is disturbing, exhilarating, andultimately unforgettable.--Alan Kolata, in his Introduction toValley of the Spirits

Author: Alan L. Kolata
Publisher: Wiley
Published: 03/16/1996
Pages: 288
Binding Type: Hardcover
Weight: 1.39lbs
Size: 9.58h x 6.40w x 1.09d
ISBN: 9780471575078

Review Citation(s):
Kirkus Reviews 01/15/1996 pg. 115
Library Journal 04/01/1996 pg. 92
New York Times 05/26/1996 pg. 19

About the Author
ALAN L. KOLATA, Ph.D., is the Director of the Center for LatinAmerican Studies at the University of Chicago, and a professor ofanthropology. His work at the site of the ancient capital city ofTiahuanaco has been featured in numerous publications, includingU.S. News & World Report, TheWashington Post, the ChicagoTribune, Smithsonian, and National Geographic.

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