Present-day Aymara associate themselves with the civilization situated at Tiwanaku, in Western Bolivia. The capital city of Tiwanaku dates from as early as 1500 BC when it was a small agriculturally based village.
Remains of the village of Tiwanaku
Finds from the Advent of Tiwanaku civilization to mid-5th-century BC., include multicolored pottery and human or animal effigies made of painted clay or pottery.
Early Aymara animal head ritual bowl
The earliest ceramics were "coarsely polished, deeply incised brown ware and a burnished polychrome incised ware". Later the Qeya style became popular during the Tiwanaku III phase "Typified by vessels of a soft, light brown ceramic paste". These ceramics included libation bowls and bulbous bottom vases. Multicolored and human animal effigies were made on pottery. Artifacts include ceramic vessels with horizontal handles.
Tiwanaku Jar with handle
During the 1st century A.D., Tiwanaku expanded rapidly from a small town. This may be attributable to the introduction of copper metallurgy, to the consequent availability of superior tools and implements and to the creation of irrigation systems. The wealthy upper class, which also controlled the profitable trade in wool from the vast herds of domesticated alpaca in the region, provided the finance for the creation of large public buildings in stone and paved roads linking Tiwanaku with other settlements in the region. The marshy tracts on the lakeside, where the climatic conditions were more favorable, were brought into cultivation by the creation of terraced raised fields. After 100 AD, Tiwanaku began to expand from a small town.
Tiwanaku Statue Pottery
From 1-300 AD tricolor pottery were made with geometric designs. Pottery includes human heads and faces.
Tiwanaku Gold Human Effigy Pendent
The use of bronze and gold indicates trade contacts. Pottery includes human heads and faces with bulging cheeks, indicating that coca leaf was in use by this time.
Tiwanaku Hat with animal designs
Ceramics and textiles were also present in their art, composed of bright colors and stepped patterns. An important ceramic artifact is the kero, a drinking cup that was ritually smashed after ceremonies and placed in burials.
A Kero cup in the form of a Puma
Examples of textiles are tapestries and tunics. The objects typically depicted herders, effigies, trophy heads, sacrificial victims, and felines. The key to spreading religion and influence from the main site to the satellite centers was through small portable objects that held ritual religious meaning.
Tiwanaku Snuff Tablet
These objects were created in wood, engraved bone, and cloth. Depicted were puma and jaguar effigies, incense burners, carved wooden hallucinogenic snuff tablets, and human portrait vessels
Tiwanaku Incense Burner in the form of a Condor
Towards 700 A.D. Ceramic artifacts were made depicting imagery of warriors, masked with puma skulls, decapitating their enemies and holding trophy skulls.