Charles Stanish

Professor Emeritus, Department of Anthropology

Anthropology Home Page


Ph.D., University of Chicago, 1985

Areas of Interest

Andean anthropology; settlement archaeology; evolution of social complexity


Charles Stanish is a Professor of Anthropology at UCLA and was the Director of the Cotsen Institute from 2001 to 2016. He has worked extensively in Peru, Bolivia, and Chile, conducting archaeological research on the prehistoric societies of the region. His theoretical work focuses on the roles that trade, war, and labor organization play in the evolution of human cooperation and complex societies. His books include Lake Titicaca: Legend, Myth, and Science (2011), Ancient Titicaca: The Evolution of Complex Society in Southern Peru and Northern Bolivia(2003), Ritual and Pilgrimage in the Ancient Andes (with B. Bauer, 2001) and Ancient Andean Political Economy (1992). He also works with a sustainable development group to preserve global cultural heritage through a combination of micro-lending, direct community grants, and tourist infrastructure development. He was a Senior Fellow at Dumbarton Oaks Research Library, is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and is a member of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States.


The Programa Collasuyu Archive

Taraco Photos

Inca Archaeology

NPR Interview

Ancient Titicaca: The Evolution of Complex Society in Southern Peru and Northern Bolivia (University of California Press, January 2003)

Islands of the Sun and the Moon

Department of Anthropology Faculty Page

Coming Soon: The Don Collier Project


Stanish, Charles and Abigail Levine 
2011 War and early state formation in the northern Titicaca Basin, Peru. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. Aug.23, 2011 v. 108 (34). 

Stanish, Charles 
2011 Lake Titicaca. Legend, Myth and Science. Cotsen Institute of Archaeology Press, Los Angeles. 

Stanish, C., E. de la Vega, M. Moseley, R. Williams, B. Vining, K. LaFavre 
2010 Tiwanaku trade patterns in Southern Peru. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology. doi:10.1016/j.jaa.2010.09.002 

Craig, N., Speakman, R.J., Popelka-Filcoff, R., Aldenderfer, M., Blanco, L.F., Vega, M.B., Glascock, M.D., Stanish, C. 
2010 Macusani obsidian from southern Peru: a characterization of its elemental composition with a demonstration of its ancient use. Journal of Archaeological Science 37(3):569-567 

Stanish, Charles 
2010 Measuring time, sacred space and social place in the Inca Empire. In The Archaeology of Measurement, edited by I. Morley and C. Renfrew, pp. 216-228. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press. 

Stanish, Charles 
2010 Labor taxes, market systems and urbanization in the prehispanic Andes: A comparative perspective. In Archaeological Approaches to Market Exchange in Ancient Societies. Edited by C. Garraty and B. Stark, pp. 185-205. University of Colorado Press, Boulder. 

Stanish, Charles 
2009 The evolution of managerial elites in intermediate societies. In The Evolution of Leadership. Transitions in decision making from small-scale to middle-range societies, edited by K. Vaughn, J. Eerkens, and J. Kanter, pp. 97-119. School of American Research, Santa Fe. 

Schultze, C.A., C. Stanish, D. Scott, T. Rehren, S. Kuehner, and J. Feathers. 
2009 Direct evidence of 1,900 years of indigenous silver production in the Lake Titicaca Basin of Southern Peru. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. October 13, 2009 vol. 106 no. 41 17280-17283 

Joyce Marcus and Charles Stanish, editors.
2006 Agricultural Strategies. Cotsen Institute of Archaeology Press, Los Angeles.


Member, National Academy of Sciences 
Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences 
Lloyd Cotsen Chair of Archaeology 
Senior Fellow, Dumbarton Oaks Research Library

Graduate Students

Elizabeth Arkush, Ph.D. 2005. Colla fortified sites: Warfare and regional power in the Late Prehispanic Titicaca Basin, Peru. Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Department of Anthropology, University of California, Los Angeles. 

Aimée Plourde (co-chair with R. Boyd), Ph.D 2006. Prestige goods and their role in the evolution of social ranking: a costly signaling model with data from the late formative period of the northern Lake Titicaca Basin, Peru.

Carol Schultze, Ph.D. 2008. The Role of Silver Ore Reduction in Tiwanaku State Expansion into Puno Bay, Peru. 

Ilana Johnson, Ph.D. 2009. Urbanism and Social Organization at the Late Moche Period Site of Pampa Grande, Peru

Amanda Cohen, Ph.D. 2010. The Significance of Sunken Court Architecture to the Development of Sociopolitical Complexity

Colleen Donley Zori, Ph.D. 2011. Metals for the Inka: Craft Production and Empire in the Quebrada de Tarapaca, Northern Chile

Abigail Levine, Ph.D. 2012. Competition, Cooperation, and the Emergence of Regional Centers in the Northern Lake Titicaca Basin, Peru

Karl LaFavre, Ph.D. 2016. Macro-scale Political History of the Lake Titicaca Region, Peru and Bolivia: A Synthesis and Analysis of Archaeological Settlement Patterns

Benjamin Nigra, Ph.D. 2017. Huaca Soto and the Evolution of Paracas Communities in the Chincha Valley, Peru

Advanced to candidacy:  Kevin Hill, Terrah Jones, and Kristine Olshansky