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In the Andean highlands, there were as many different origin myths as there were native peoples. Each ethnic group sought to establish its importance through such stories, by claiming to be the first people to appear in the world. Many accounts told of primordial ancestors emerging from local points in the landscape, such as caves and springs. Yet Lake Titicaca and the area around Tiwanaku acquired an exceptional prestige for people not only in the Collao region but more broadly in the southern Andes.1 Given the power and civilizational achievement of Tiwanaku society, many peoples considered the lake to...

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