Ancient Ruins of Tiwanacu and PumaPunkuTiwanaku (Spanish: Tiahuanaco and Tiahuanacu) is an important Pre-Columbian archaeological site in western Bolivia, South America.
TIAHUANUCO lies almost in the very centre of the great terrestrial basin of lakes Titicaca and Aullagas, and in the heart of a region which may be properly characterized as the Tibet of the New World.
Here, at an elevation of twelve thousand nine hundred feet above the sea, in a broad, open, unprotected, arid plain, cold in the wet and frigid in the dry season, we find the evidences of an ancient civilization, regarded by many as the oldest and the most advanced of both American continents.
The city of Tiahuanaco is situated near the southern shore of Lake Titicaca, in Bolivia. Even in ruins, it is an impressive site. Its principal structures include a huge stepped pyramid of earth faced with cut andesite (the Akapana Pyramid) and a rectangular enclosure known as the Kalasasaya, constructed of alternating stone columns and rectangular blocks. The entrance to the Kalasasaya is a monolithic gateway decorated with carved figures.
Tiahuanaco is an example of engineering so monumental that it dwarfs even the work of the Aztecs. Stone blocks on the site weigh anything up to 65 tons.
They bear no chisel marks, so the means by which they were shaped remains a mystery. The stone itself came from two different quarries.
One supplied sandstone and was situated 10 miles away. It shows signs of having produced blocks weighing up to 400 tons. The other supplied andesite and was located 50 miles away, raising the question of how the enormous blocks were transported in an age before the horse was domesticated in South America.
Close examination of the structures shows an unusual technique behind their building. The stone blocks were notched, then fitted together so that they interlocked in three dimensions. The result was buildings strong enough to withstand earthquakes.
Until very recently, orthodox archaeologists labeled Tiahuanaco a ritual site. The reason was that it was built as a port. It has docks, it has quays, it has harbors. But they are docks, quays and harbors that can’t be used by any ship.
Tiahuanaco is situated 13,000 feet above sea level and is miles from the nearest water. Faced with this mystery, the historians solved it by deciding Tiahuanaco was never lived in. It was, rather, a massive monument to ancient gods, built as a port, presumably, so souls could sail to heaven.
This idea, like the Tiahuanaco harbors, no longer holds water. By 1995, new archaeological discoveries clearly showed it was once not only a bustling metropolis, but also the capital of an ancient empire extending across large portions of eastern and southern Bolivia, north-western Argentina, northern Chile and southern Peru.
One of its most extraordinary accomplishments was a unique system of agriculture that involved the creation of raised planting surfaces separated by small irrigation ditches. These ditches absorbed sunlight and prevented crops from freezing, even on the high Altiplano. Algae collected from the ditches was used as fertilizer. The discovery of this ancient system has proven a godsend for modern Bolivian farmers who have found it gives greatly increased yields over modern methods. [ Source: The Mystery of Tiahuanaco, compiled and digitized by Glen W. Chapman ]
Tiahuanacu (also called Tiwanaku) is a mystery because of its date of construction (estimated by A. Posnansky to be 15,000 B.C.) and the peculiar stone technology.
“The probable age of Tihuanacu of the Second Period, calculated
on the basis of the variation of the obliquity of the ecliptic, would be
approximately 15,000 B.C. Naturally, this calculation is in no sense
definitive. For example, the factor [t3] of the formula of the
International Ephemeris Conference of Paris may well vary in the light
of future astronomical knowledge. If the curve of the obliquity of the
ecliptic should, for reasons as yet unknown to us, be more inclined, the
calculated age of Tihuanacu would also be somewhat less. But it is an
established fact that whatever calculation might be used to determine
the age of the Temple of the Sun of Tihuanacu, on the basis of the
variation of the obliquity of the ecliptic from those times until today,
would demonstrate that that American solar observatory is more ancient than any monument of man in the world of which we know up to this time.”
— Arthur Posnansky.Note: Read fragment of Arthur Posnansky book “Tihuanacu – The Cradle of American Man” we added to this post.
“The ruins of Tiahuanuco have been regarded by all students of American antiquities as in many respects the most interesting and important, and at the same time most enigmatical, of any on the continent. They have excited the admiration and wonder alike of the earliest and latest travelers, most of whom, vanquished in their attempts to penetrate the mystery of their origin, have been content to assign them an antiquity beyond that of the other monuments of America, and to regard them as the solitary remains of a civilization that disappeared before that of the Incas began, and contemporaneous with that of Egypt and the East.
— E. George Squier
In Aymara, Puma Punku means, “The Door of the Cougar”. This ‘temple area’ has many finely cut stones – some weighing over 100 tonnes. The processes and technologies involved in the creation of these temples are still not fully understood by modern scholars.
Our current ideas of the Tiwanaku culture hold that they had no writing system and also that the invention of the wheel was most likely unknown to them. The architectural achievements seen at Pumapunku are striking in light of the presumed level of technological capability available during its construction. Due to the monumental proportions of the stones, the method by which they were transported to Pumapunku has been a topic of interest since the temple’s discovery.
Puma Punku, truly startles the imagination. It seems to be the remains of a great wharf (for Lake Titicaca long ago lapped upon the shores of Tiahuanaco) and a massive, four-part, now collapsed building. One of the construction blocks from which the pier was fashioned weighs an estimated 440 tons (equal to nearly 600 full-size cars) and several other blocks laying about are between 100 and 150 tons. The quarry for these giant blocks was on the shore of Titicaca, some ten miles away.
There is no known technology in all the ancient world that could have transported stones of such massive weight and size. The Andean people of 500 AD, with their simple reed boats, could certainly not have moved them. Even today, with all the modern advances in engineering and mathematics, we could not fashion such a structure.
How were these monstrous stones moved and what was their purpose?
Posnansky suggested an answer, based upon his studies of the astronomical alignments of Tiahuanaco, but that answer is considered so controversial, even impossible, that it has been ignored and censured by the scientific community for fifty years. Of course there is no certainty that this was the reason as the ancient builders left no written records. All the legends have been handed down through the generations.
The architectural achievements seen at Pumapunku are striking in light of the presumed level of technological capability available during its construction. Due to the monumental proportions of the stones, the method by which they were transported to Pumapunku has been a topic of interest since the temple’s discovery. The largest of these stone blocks is 7.81 meters long, 5.17 meters wide, averages 1.07 meters thick, and is estimated to weigh about 131 metric tons. The second largest stone block found within the Pumapunka is 7.90 meters long, 2.50 meters wide, and averages 1.86 meters thick. Its weight has been estimated to be 85.21 metric tons. Both of these stone blocks are part of the Plataforma Lítica and composed of red sandstone.
Based upon detailed petrographic and chemical analyses of samples from both individual stones and known quarry sites, archaeologists concluded that these and other red sandstone blocks were transported up a steep incline from a quarry near Lake Titicaca roughly 10 km away. Smaller andesite blocks that were used for stone facing and carvings came from quarries within the Copacabana Peninsula about 90 km away from and across Lake Titicaca from the Pumapunka and the rest of the Tiwanaku Site.
Read this amazing fragment from the book “PERU Incidents of Travel and Exploration in the LAND OF THE INCAS” by E. George Squier, New York, Harper and Brothers, 1877.NOTE: This excerpt serves to provide a description of the ruins before the harvesting of many stones for railroad construction.It also provides insights into some nineteenth-century attitudes towards archaeology sites by and the racism of its author, cited writers, and the local priest (cura) in Tiahuanaco village.
CHAPTER XV. TIAHUANUCO, THE BAALBEC OF THE NEW WORLD. Tiahuanuco a Centre of Ancient Civilization.-Difficulties.-The Chuño Festival.-Death of my Photographer.-Studying the Art.-My Assistants.-The Edifices of Ancient Tiahuanuco.-The Ruins a Quarry for Modern Builders.-Their Extent. -The Temple.-The Fortress.-The Palace.-The Hall of Justice.-Precision of the Stone-cutting.-Elaborate Sculptures.-Monolithic Gate-ways.-The Modern Cemetery.-The Sanctuary.-Symbolical Slab.-The great Monolithic Gate-way. -Its Elaborate Sculptures.-Monuments described by Cieza de Leon and D’Or-bigny.-Material of the Stone-work.-How the Stone was cut.-General Resume. -Tiahuanuco probably a Sanctuary, not a Seat of Dominion.
To read more go to our article Mystic Places: Tiahuanaco (Tiwanacu)
PS1: Was Lake Titicaca connected to the ocean?Titicaca and Poopo, lake and salt-bed of Coipasa, salt beds of Uyuni———several of these lakes and salt—beds have chemical compositions similar to those of the ocean. He pointed out that Lake Titicaca is.. . . full of characteristic [saltwater] molluscs, such as Palude— strina and Ancylus, which shows that it is, geologically speaking, of relatively modern origin.
Hans S. Bellamy, who gave the problem of the salinity of this region very considerable thought, had the following to say:
The region in which the feeders of Lake Titicaca rise consist almost exclusively of old crystalline, and younger volcanic rocks; Triassic formations, from which salt is usually derived through extraction, are markedly absent.
Hence the presence of so much salt in the Bolivian Tableland can only be accounted for by postulating a former connection of the great lacustrine basin with the Ocean, and by assuming the eventual evaporation of this body of water when the connection with the Ocean was at last severed.
Bellamy called this body of water the Inter—Andean Sea. Indeed, when H. P. Moon wrote his account of the geology of the region he put great stress on the “.. . freshness of many of the strand—lines and the modern character of such fossils as occur.”
A few miles south of Lake Titicaca lies the celebrated ruin site of Tiahuanaco, a collection of shattered edifices of some ancient civilization, itself outside the present inquiry but bearing very definitely upon the radical changes which have occurred throughout the Altiplano within geologically very recent times. Of these ruins A. Hyatt Verrill wrote:
Although the ruins are now over thirteen miles from Lake Titicaca there are reasons to think that in the days when the city was occupied it stood on the shores of the Lake itself or on an arm, or bay, for traces of what was apparently a dock or mole are to be seen just north of the principal rums. If so the lake has receded.
Bellamy refers to a ‘canal” which appears to have surrounded the principal group of ruins at Tiahuanaco, including the structure referred to hereafter as the “fortress” and adds:
Some explorers of the site of Tiahuanaco are of the opinion that the “canal” was, at most, only a “dry—moat,” and hence will not concede that the peculiar rectangular depressions near the ruins were once actual docks or harbour basins. […]
Bellamy concluded […] that the builders of Tiahuanaco, who obtained their material from quarries many miles distant———for structures which in their skilled and accurate masonry alone remain a mystery———floated their stone blocks in a roughly squared condition on large rafts and that the foundering of these occasionally would leave “dumps” of, in effect, raw material where now found. He made another observation of like force:
Moreover, the “dry—moat” must have been a water bearing canal because the great sewer, which drained the overflow of the pond on the platform of the “fortress” of Akapana discharged into it (ibid.).
The salient proof, and one wholly relevant in present review, that Tiahuanaco possessed a waterfront rests upon discernible traces of alkaline incrustations on the sides of the huge stone
blocks forming a part of the above—described mole, harbor—basin, or canal wall.
The line of these incrustations corresponds closely with that of the strand—line on the slopes of the surrounding mountains, about which Bellamy wrote:
It was carefully surveyed for a length of about 375 miles. And then it was established that it is not “straight.” It was found that the Inter—Andean Sea. .
. . was not merely a Lake Titicaca of higher level extending far to the south, but that its level showed a slant of a most peculiar character in relation to the present ocean— level, or, which amounts to the same, relative to the present level of Lake Titicaca.
The level of the Inter—Andean Sea revealed by the ancient…. strand—line was higher to the north of Tiahuanaco and lower to the south. The actuality of this peculiarity cannot be doubted, for it was established independently by different persons at different times, using different methods of surveying.
[Source: The Mystery of Tiahuanaco ]
PS2: Quotes from “Tihuanacu – The Cradle of American Man” – by Arthur Posnansky
The Object of the Building Kalasasaya (part of Chapter II)Before entering into a detailed discussion of the construction of the Temple of the Sun, it is necessary to brush aside the veil of ignorance which until now has covered the purpose of its construction and its importance for the life, economy and religion of the people of that distant period.
As is well known, the great Andean population and that of the nearby regions, was composed in the greater part of farmers and herdsmen (there also existed tribes which devoted themselves exclusively to fishing), and Tihuanacu was the religious and cultural nucleus. The population was extremely dense, as serious studies in this respect show.
Thus it resulted that the agricultural and cattle production of a relatively small region had to provide the support for considerable masses of individuals and so the country was cultivated in an intense way, as we shall see farther on. A bad agricultural year brought famine, discontent, social disturbances and the consequent discredit of the dominant castes. It is also known, even by the person most ignorant of agronomy, that to obtain good harvests and abundant issue in cattle, an exact knowledge of the calendar is necessary. The different seasons and the right times for plowing the fields must be determined, as well as the corresponding seasons for the sowing of certain crops, and the exact moment for breeding various types of cattle.
Of course, the man who is a product of modern culture, and who has an almanac, can scarcely appreciate the importance in that epoch, of possessing exact calendarian knowledge. In order to obtain this data, it was necessary for the castes who ruled the people, to obtain an exact astronomical knowledge, and consequently this science played a highly important role in the most civilized zone of the continent even in that distant period. The great Altiplano, locked between the Andes, was covered then to a great extent by water from which protruded extensive islands and peninsulas. The smallest span of land was utilized by means of “agricultural terraces”.
Consequently, the observation of the phenomena which took place in the firmament, especially certain knowledge about celestial mechanics, was indispensable for the Khollas, the sacerdotal caste, in order to provide their subjects with good crops and, as a result, social tranquility and the prestige necessary for the fulfillment of their mission. Consequently, astronomy had not only a religious, but also an essentially practical and social basis. The priests or “Willkas”, as they were certainly called, wielded over their subjects, those sail half-savage hordes, spiritual and divine power in addition to their earthly authority. It was thus necessary for them to indicate, not only such agricultural dates as were necessary for irrigation, the breeding of animals, fishing, etc., but also those of the many feast days connected with the seasons and subdivisions of the year.
With the aid of this brief introduction, it will be appreciated that Kalasasaya was something more important than a simple temple of the Sun; it was an Almanac of carved stone, as we shall see farther on, with which there were determined, in a mathematical manner, the different seasons and subdivisions of the year.
THESE CALCULATIONS WERE ONLY POSSIBLE BY MEANS OF A BUILDING LOCATED EXACTLY ON THE MERIDIAN AND THE LENGTH AND WIDTH OF WHICH CONFORMED TO THE MAXIMUM ANGLE OF SOLAR DECLINATION BETWEEN THE TWO SOLSTICES.
Astronomical Angles (part of Chapter III)Since olden times and also in our day, the question regarding the age of Tihuanacu is one which has fascinated scholars and laymen alike. Since these ruins were already debris in the period of the Inca Empire, capricious commentaries and conjectures were made about their existence and the men who built them, and especially about their age. Thus it is that until a little while ago, the chronological aspect of Tihuanacu constituted an almost indecipherable enigma.
Only after conceiving the idea of investigating the age of these remains of human activity in prehistoric America, the most notable ruins which have come down to us, and using astronomical resources to this end, has a slight ray of light penetrated this mystery.
It is not a new thing to study the age of archaeological monuments by astronomical means. Much before and also after the studies undertaken by the author — begun before 1910 — scholars and others who laid claim to such a title, thought of determining the age of the remains of remote periods through the principles of astronomy. Studies of this sort have been carried out on the monuments of Egypt, Asia, Europe and England.
Perhaps the person who carried out this class of investigations with most skill and understanding was Sir Norman Lockyer, President of the Physical Solar Observatory of London, who, in 1909, in his detailed work “Stonehenge and Other British Stone Monuments”, supplied the necessary foundation for the methodological investigation of the epochs in which there were constructed the monuments of remote antiquity. (90)
As for the author of this present work, as we have already pointed out, his first investigations in regard to the age of Tihuanacu, were carried out around the year 1910. These were based on ordinary methods and reference was made to these studies in the “Guía de Tihuanacu” which was published in the year 1912. (91)
Then in the year 1914 and later, after having amplified in Europe his astronomical and geodetic knowledge, he brought forward new studies, which show evidence of a greater depth in regard to the age of Tihuanacu (92).
In these works, which we can call definitive, the author employed the method of approach of the learned Sir Norman Lockyer, or specifically, used exclusively as a basis for his calculations the change of the obliquity of the ecliptic; in other words, the comparison of the ecliptic marked on the Temple of the Sun of the Second and Third Periods and that of the present time.
Through the facts expounded in the preceding chapters, it has been proven beyond all doubt that the temple Kalasasaya was a true solar observatory located on the astronomic meridian, and at the same time a magnificent stone calendar. For reasons also set forth in previous chapters, it has been noted that when the observer stands at the center of the west wall of Kalasasaya of the Second Period, the north and south pillars of the east wall are so located that the sun would rise at the solstices on the outer corners of these pillars. Also approximately at the center of the building, let us say at the middle of the monumental perron, the sun appears on the morning of the equinoxes.
Now then: if, at the solstices, one observes the sunrise without the aid of instruments, it will be noted that it does indeed still come up on the corners of these pillars. However, if we examine this phenomenon with precision instruments, we note a difference of approximately eighteen angular minutes, which represents the change in the obliquity of the ecliptic between that of the period in which Kalasasaya was built and that which it has today.
This difference has served as the basis for the calculation of the age of Tihuanacu. From what has been discussed in previous chapters, there is not the least doubt that this building was indeed built on the astronomic meridian and its angles were the points marked exactly by the amplitude of the sun between the solstices. These few introductory words will explain to the reader in a summary fashion how the basis for calculating the probable age of Tihuanacu was obtained. However, in practice, the question is not as simple as the foregoing lines might indicate.
Our colleague during the years 1928-29, Professor Dr. Rolf Müller, published in the “Baesler Archiv”, a study which contains a part of the work carried out jointly during the above years on the site of Kalasasaya(93)
Since we have carried out studies on this subject before and after the years mentioned above, we should treat this thorny material anew in the present chapter. We repeat that as a basis for the hypothetical calculation of the age of Tihuanacu, or rather, for the investigation of the approximate age of these ruins, there have been used.
THE ASTRONOMIC ANGLES SET DOWN IN DISTANT PERIODS BY THE LEARNED PRIEST – ASTRONOMERS OF TIHUANACU IN KALASASAYA.
As we have said, the building was located, during the period of its apogee, exactly on the astronomical meridian, and this is an orientation which it preserves almost exactly today. In the light of what has been set down before, it is not possible to doubt its purpose. We repeat once again that the calculations with regard to the age of Tihuanacu are based solely and exclusively on the difference in the obliquity of the ecliptic of the period in which that great temple was built and that which it has today.
The calculations based on this figure indicate a rather old age in the light of our manner of thinking today in archaeological matters; if there were not many other coefficients, not astronomical but of another sort, which corroborate in an unequivocal and unquestionable manner the enormous age of Tihuanacu, and which we shall discuss at the end of the present chapter, it would not have been worth while to go so deeply into the astronomical studies which took more than a quarter of a century of the writer’s life.
The aforementioned difference of eighteen angular minutes noted in Kalasasaya is the basis for our calculations and this coefficient was applied to a curve constituted on the basis of the formula of extrapolation recommended by the Ephemeris Conference of Paris in the year 1911 and which is as follows:
eps (t) = 23° 27′ 8.26″ – 468.44″ t – 0.60″ t2 + 1.83″ t3
If this curve should vary with future studies and trials in the coming centuries of exact astronomy, then the calculation in regard to the age of Tihuanacu would also vary. However, in any event, even leaving aside the calculation by astronomical methods, the age of Tihuanacu, a figure somewhere beyond ten thousand years (the age of the Second and Third periods) will always be, on the basis of geology, paleontology and anthropology, very great — no matter by what method or standard it is judged.
With regard to the first, or prehistoric, period of Tihuanacu, as we have decided to call it, this is much more remote and we do not have, because of the present state of science, any basis for establishing astronomical calculations; rather, we can use only a geological basis for the determination of the period in which it was built, a method which does not make it possible to express its age in figures, but only to lay down a hypothetical affirmation of a geological epoch and this also only within the limitations inherent to the present state of our knowledge in this field (94)
In the light of the foregoing, we shall begin at once the application of astronomical science to the discovery of the approximate age of Tihuanacu, by means of the calculation of the age of the Temple of the Sun of Kalasasaya. In order to know the difference in the obliquity of the ecliptic of that time, and today, it would be necessary to know in the first place, how great is the amplitude of the sun marked on this temple and other data which we shall enumerate at once.
- The total length of Kalasasaya from east to west without the balcony wall is: 128 m. 74 cm.
- The total width from north to south is: 118 m. 26 cm.
- The index of length-width is: 91
- The average of our many observations of the angle of solar amplitude established by the priest – astronomers in the Kalasasaya of the second period is: 49° 15′.
- The average of our observations with those of Professors Becker, Arnold Kohlschütter and Rolf Müller (95) of the German Astronomical Mission, is: 49° 22′ 42″.
- The amplitude of the sun between the two solstices in 1930 in Tihuanacu, which is located in a latitude of 16° 34′ 54″, is 49° 4′ 2″.
- Taking into account the present false horizon of 2° 47′ in the north and of 16′ in the south, as also the refraction, in this case the amplitude is 49° 59′ 6″.
- The difference between the amplitude marked in the Sun Temple Kalasasaya and the amplitude in 1930 is 36′ 24″.
- The obliquity of the ecliptic in 1930 was 23° 27′.
- The obliquity of the ecliptic during the construction of the Kalasasaya Temple was 23° 8′ 48″.
- This figure would be the base to apply it in the curve which is
constructed, according to the formula of the International Conference of
Ephemerids in Paris in 1911, which is as follows:
eps (t) = 23° 27′ 8.26″ – 468.44″ t – 0.60″ t2 + 1.83″ t3 (96)
Fig. 28 The curve of the variation of the obliquity of the ecliptic according to the knowledge of present-day astronomy.
13. This value touches the curve where the ordinate-axis and the abscissa-axis cross each other.
14. Which is on the point of 15,000 years B.C.
This figure would constitute the probable age of Tihuanacu in the “Second Period” and some what less in the “Third Period.”
To those who wish to know what our working companion, Dr. Rolf Müller, has published, we recommend his article in the “Baessler Archiv”, 1931.(97)
The scope of the present book does not allow us to enter into greater detail concerning the opinions of Professor Müller; but those who have a special interest in the calculations and methods of that scholar, can consult the work cited in note No. 94 and will be able to form an exact opinion of our studies. These in the main have proceeded in a parallel fashion, since for more than two years we have discussed the different “working hypotheses”.
And now to return to the method which the priest-astronomers of Tihuanacu may have used, we should call attention to an extremely important fact. A few years ago upon the occasion of the visit of the Prince of Wales, an automobile road was built to cross the ruins; this road passed over the point where the aforementioned priests must have made their observations, or the center of the west wall of the Second Period.
Precisely here was discovered the beginnings or base of a platform which in its time must have had a considerable height, equal perhaps to that of the upper notches of the balcony wall of the Third Period from which the priest-astronomers presumably made their observations.
If the aforementioned elevations in the east which covered the true horizon and which were taken into account by Professor Müller in his calculations, existed at the time of the Second Period, the angle of altitude from this point of higher elevation would also have changed in the observations.
Another fact which must be taken into account is that when at the present time during the summer solstice one observes the sun toward the south pillar of the east wall, the slopes of the hill Akapana cross his line of vision (as is seen in the small accompanying drawing Fig. 29, ) which can be said to obstruct the view when the sun rises.
Fig.29But this is the case only at the present time, because the terraces of the artificial hill of Akapana which formerly were supported by retaining walls, are crumbled. It is to be noted that at that time the line of sight passed perfectly through the reentrant angle of the first terrace and that was especially the case when the observation point at the center of the wall of the Second Period was at a height, as in fact it was, as is indicated by the above mentioned base which was discovered.
Moreover, on the basis of the geological studies mentioned in one of the preceding chapters, it is presumed that the horizon in the east was, if not completely free, at least lower than at the present time. And we repeat that before they would have ventured to construct a building of the magnitude of Kalasasaya, they had, in another place where there was a free horizon, a small observatory where they carried out their original observations and from where they would have been able to bring the angle of amplitude for the final Kalasasaya, (See Fig. 30).
Figure 30 Sunrise in the center of the door of the small shrine of Lukurmata on the day of the vernal equinox.
Since we have exhausted the subject of the astronomical angles of the Second Period of Tihuanacu, it is necessary to consider the angles of the construction which is within the Kalasasaya of the Third Period.
As it has been demonstrated with abundant material in the preceding paragraphs that in the interior of Kalasasaya there exist remains of relatively modern constructions which, with the present balcony wall, belong to the Third and Last Period of Tihuanacu, it is absolutely necessary to consider the astronomical angles which it contains.
As it has been demonstrated with abundant material in the preceding paragraphs that in the interior of Kalasasaya there exist remains of relatively modern constructions which, with the present balcony wall, belong to the Third and Last Period of Tihuanacu, it is absolutely necessary to consider the astronomical angles which it contains.
This in its time, as is indicated by the notches still to be seen on its surface, had a superstructure on which, in our opinion, there was to be placed the block which at the present time we call the Sun Door. This place, then, is the most elevated one in the interior of the temple and without doubt designates the most important place of the “sanctum sanctorum”.
Figure 26 The observation stone of the Third Period of the priests and astronomers of Tihuanacu. It is located in the highest part of the Sun Temple and was planned as a base or foundation for a lower structure which in turn was to support above as a central block of the Sun Temple the famous door, today called the Sun Door of Tihuanacu.
The accompanying figure (No. 25) shows its position and the marks chiseled by us on its surface during our studies in the year 1928. This we published in a communication sent to the Twenty-third International Convention of Americanists, meeting in New York City that same year. Observing from this block the corner stone to the north (Fig. 25) which still exists in the old east wall, one sees that the sun rises on it during the winter solstice (June 22).
Figure 25 Pillar of the winter solstice of the Third Period. On the upper part this shows half of a small window where, as can be seen in the reconstructed Figure 25a, the sun appeared for a moment at the winter solstice in the form of a vertical, luminous ray, This was the case since the sunrise was observed from a visual angle of approximately 23* 30′.
By reconstructing on the map the walls of the small temple on the basis of what was still extant in the year 1903, one obtained an angle of amplitude of 49° 16′. But the most interesting thing is that if one observes, at a distance of five meters toward the west of the aforementioned observation block, where there are still remains or a construction, the centers of the Kalasasayas (98)of the west balcony wall, one notes that the sun sets in the center of the pillars “A” and “K” at the solstices and on the dates noted on the accompanying diagram.
This is the case because the length of the “sanctum banctorum”, taking as a basis the north corner block of the no longer extant east wall and the block of trachyte which we have been calling “observation block”, is 72.1 and the width is 64.2. By means of a simple trigonometric operation we then get the angle 24° 38′.
On the basis of the above length and width of the “sanctum sanctorum”, the index of the latter is 89 instead of the 91 of the exterior building of the Second Period. From this fact it can be presumed that no great space of time intervened between one period and the other.
In the interest of future verifications which may follow those already carried out, we give in Fig. 31 the drawing of the observation block with the marks which we engraved on it during our researches.
Figure 31 The block E which is lacking in the balcony wall between the pillars F and D and which was found by the author in the year 1943 some 250m. to the west serving as a foundation for corral wall.
Also, in Fig. 24, there is reproduced a drawing of the perron with the marks which we chiseled on its platform.
We have not the least doubt that some day our measurements (99) will be controlled by competent geodesists or astronomers and possibly certain errors or omissions will be rectified, which escaped us through faulty personal judgments or for other reasons.
Now that we have considered in this chapter the hypothetical age of Tihuanacu, it will be necessary to consider also other aspects which, although not of an astronomical nature, corroborate and reinforce further the presumption of the extremely old age of the metropolis of American man. They are the following:
1. It is evident beyond a doubt that the inhabitants of Tihuanacu knew animals now extinct, which they reproduced faithfully by stylizing them on their ceramics and other plastic works. This fauna possibly disappeared at the end of the last period of glaciation on the Altiplano, as is shown by the alluvial strata.
2. Certain human crania found in the deepest strata of Tihuanacu, especially one which is located in the Museo Tihuanacu of La Paz (marked No. 1) and reproduced on the corresponding plate of Vol. Ill, are completely fossilized (100) and show primitive signs, particularly those which were found in a sort of Löss and in the reddish clay of that region.
3. One of the decisive proofs of the age of the man of Tihuanacu, is the subterranean dwelling. In that age, especially in the first period, they did not yet build houses; their temples were semi-subterranean buildings. This primitive custom still persists in the Second and Third Periods, in which even those of the ruling class who lived on the island surrounded by the moat, lived in tiny dwellings where they remained and slept in a squatting position. Up to this time four of these have been found in almost intact form (101) and before our studies two more were found.
There is no doubt but that if sensible excavations were carried out, various others would be discovered. It is not possible to hold to the belief that the primitive American man who until then lived in caverns and subterranean caves, would come out of them and immediately construct his dwellings on the ground. It was necessary and it is logical to suppose that there would be a period of transition between the two forms of dwelling and this is seen in the completely subterranean dwelling that we have in Tihuanacu. An identical evolution is witnessed in centers of archaic civilization in Peru, especially in Katoc and in Chavin de Huantar.
4. Another of the factors which influenced human development in Tihuanacu is the climate. Had this metropolis been built at an elevation above sea level like that found today, it would have had an inclement climate and one unsuitable for human life, as is seen in that of the present time, with its atmospheric phenomena so injurious to the development of agriculture and cattle raising. Under such circumstances it would never have attained the extremely dense population that it had in past epochs. The climatical cingulum has changed from the period of the apogee of this civilization to the present time. The northern part rose and the southern part suffered a great fall. We consider this matter in greater detail in another of our works (102).
5. The fauna and flora changed radically from the epoch of splendor to our time. This can be proven by the remains of marine fauna found at the present time in Lake Titicaca and in the clays of the subsoil of Tihuanacu. (103)
6. It is unquestionable that the great Andean lake formed by the meltings of a glaciation existed in the Second and Third Periods, and that in the previous period this lake was very small — much smaller that at the present time. On its banks there exist man-made constructions which have been revealed by the enormous and final fall of the lake.
7. The erosion of the blocks of the First Period which are exclusively of red sandstone and of their very primitive sculptures on a calcareous volcanic tufa, show an abrasion extending over thousands of years. This is the case although perhaps also for thousands of years they lay covered by alluvial mud which later, little by little, was washed away by the torrential rains which have for the most part revealed them. Even the blocks of extremely hard andesitic lava of the Second Period, especially those of the east facade of Kalasasaya (Fig. 13), show a considerable wearing away from erosion, particularly the two monolithic blocks at the sides of the perron (Fig. 23), even though they were covered with earth until the year 1903.
The blocks of red sandstone of the external north and south walls of Kalasasaya, which when they were constructed, had a regular form, were rather well carved and covered with ideosymbolic inscriptions on the inside, which is shown by a fragment saved by chance,(Figs. 21 and 21a).
Figure 21 Fragment of a piece of one of the “Kalasasayas” found within the Sun Temple. Because it was buried this piece preserved a remnant of drawing on one of its faces. This is conclusive proof that the columns of Kalasasaya in the Second Period had symbolic carvings on the outside or on the inside.
All these facts make evident the enormous lapse of time which separates us from the period in which they were erected and carved. It seems, moreover, that a certain number of them were reconstructed and renovated during the Third Period, a period in which use was made of the works of former times.
Erosion is quite evident in the ruins of Puma-Punku, so-called today, but which in our opinion constituted in that epoch the Temple of the Moon.
There one can study clearly “by periods” the wearing away due to erosion.
There one sees, for example, the monumental south platform of the First Period (104) which shows such erosion that it gives the appearance of a rough stone just removed from the quarry, since the details of the staircase embossments are almost completely erased; the other platform to the north shows an abrasion not yet so complete. Between these platforms one finds two more which, in our opinion, come from the Second and Third Periods. One of these is apparently completely finished and the other to the south, formerly set on a notch in the interior, shows the relief work scarcely begun, (See the corresponding chapter which deals with Puma-Punku) or, the “seats” have scarcely been sketched in.
One can also see clearly the effects of the successive erosions and, moreover, the repairs carried out during the Third Period by means of metallic retaining bolts or a kind of clamp. There are many probabilities for believing that Puma-Punku was almost completely covered by a dumping of alluvia which was swept away in part by very old searchings dating from much before the Conquest. Later, when the inhabitants of the Peninsula came to the Altiplano, new excavations in search of hidden treasure were carried out on a large scale.
Still later, in the period in which these ruins served as a quarry for the construction of the church in the modern village of Tihuanacu, the rest of the alluvia which still covered the ruins was removed. The treasure hunters even searched beneath the immense blocks, such was the burning desire to find wealth. The bronze of the great bolts with which the masses of rock were joined was used in the casting of bells for the same church.
Owing then to this protective layer which covered the ruins of Puma-Punku, these suffered relatively little wearing away, as we note in some blocks. A gigantic image of red sandstone completely covered with inscriptions was found in the little temple of the First Period; this was a primitive rustic idol like those found near it, and had been retouched, one would say, during the Second, or more probably, during the Third Period. The degree of erosion in Tihuanacu is in proportion to the time that the ruins were exposed to the inclemency of the weather.
Thus, for example, the idols on the line to the south side have again taken on the appearance of rough stone; only the largest, which except for the face was covered with a layer of alluvium still preserves its magnificent embossments and carvings. The Sun Door which was found lying on its face on the ground, has been preserved in wonderful condition with all its inscriptions; but its back, and especially the end exposed to the adverse atmospheric conditions, shows an enormous wearing away. It should be pointed out that the block from which this notable monument was carved, is composed of andesitic hornblende, vitreous and very hard lava, which, polished as it was in that period, required several thousands of years to,wear away in the form in which we see it today. (See the reconstructed Figure 11.)
Figure 11 Reconstructed drawing showing how the Spanish conquistadores and the “extirpators of idolatry in Peru” must have found the Sun Door about 1630, then covered in part with dumped earth. (The erosion on the back of the door served as a basis for this drawing).
8. The glacial Andean lake, or as d’Orbigny calls it, the “inner sea”, certainly reached in the Second Period and unquestionably in the Third, as far as the edges of the monuments of Tihuanacu. This assertion is proven by the many hydraulic works, such as wharves, canals, and especially the spillway by which the step-formed canal was drained.
This spillway constituted the outlet for the artificial lake located on the surface of the pukara Akapana; it drained into the moat which, communicating with the lake, formed an island in the most sacred part of the temple. At the present time this spillway is found under the plain, crossing the south retaining wall of Akapana. In the course of the excavations carried out by the Crequi de Montfort Mission, the spillway was visible for a few days; then fortunately slides of earth and the rains covered it again with a protective layer which saved it for the benefit of future studies. (See Vol. I. PI. XIII, Fig. b.)
Other structures (Figs. 32 and 32a) which presumably belong also to the First or Prehistoric Period of Tihuanacu because of their special and primitive architecture, are the monuments found on a little island in the lake which is today called Hakonts Palayani. This is the prolongation of Lake Titicaca in the overflower. These monuments give evidence of a most remote age which cannot be expressed in figures and although they are not found in Tihuanacu itself, but at some 25 km. in a straight line from this metropolis, it is necessary to study them as an integral part of the latter place when we consider the age of the Andean ruins and the activities of primitive American man.
These monuments were under the surface of the waters some four hundred years ago, when Spanish feet first trod the Altiplano. Even today during periods of intense rain — in periods of minimum sun spots — they are covered with water and can not be distinguished from the lake which, we must not forget, is nothing more than the remains of the great glacial lake which, during the flowering of Tihuanacu, reached the gates of this metropolis. In that period, consequently, these ruins (105) were some 34 m. 73 cm. underneath the waters. When we consider from the geological point of view the withdrawal of this liquid mass, from that period until our day, when the lake is 20 km. distant from the ruins, and more or less 34.73 m. below the once busy wharves of Tihuanacu, we have another bit of chronological data which furnishes a conclusive illustration in regard to the age of the metropolis.
This analysis can be summarized as follows: the lake, reaching as it did in the Third Period to the edge of the great metropolis, had a height which would correspond at the present time to some 3,839 m. above sea level, as is shown unquestionably by the still existing hydraulic works of Tihuanacu. This estimate takes into account the periodic fluctuations which occur in this great lagoon. (106)
The Altiplano at the time of Tihuanacu’s height did not show the inclination toward the south (107) which it now has, and the lake then extended over all the land which now constitutes that region; that is, over all the enormous basin enclosed by the Andes.
Supposing that the high plain had had, in the period of the splendor of Tihuanacu, the inclination to the south that it has now, a barrier several hundred meters high would have been necessary to prevent the lake from draining toward the south, or toward what now constitutes the Argentine Republic.
This being the case, the part which is today the section of Oruro would have been under a layer of water of some 155 m. However, since the strand lines which show what at one time constituted the edge of the great Lake Titicaca, are 44 m. above the level of the plain of Oruro (Fig. 33) and only 52 m. above the present Lake Poopó, it is unquestionable that the Altiplano inclined, either in a violent manner or through successive modifications, undergoing a considerable fall toward the south and southwest and also probably toward the southeast. In the course of this process its waters flowed in these directions and this is a phenomenon which would have endured in the memory of all the generations, had it taken place during a relatively recent period; in such a case the signs of the draining would still be visible and would not have disappeared as they have.
9. A southern inclination of the continent of such a sort could occur only as the result of geotectonic factors, caused in turn by the cessation of the effects of a great pressure (ice) on that part made up today of the Altiplano.
10. By analogy it is possible to determine that the last glacial period took place in the Southern Hemisphere at the same time as in the Northern, since there is no atmospheric nor cosmic factor that we have been able to discover, that could have prevented it.
11. The true cause of the last glacial epoch, as well as that of the previous ones, is still doubtful, but the conclusions from a majority of studies indicate that it occurred simultaneously in both hemispheres, EXCEPT IN THE LOW LEVEL EQUATORIAL REGIONS. (107)
The chronology of the glacial period in the north of Europe has been studied and determined exactly, thanks to the brilliant investigations of Professor Gerard de Geer, and especially because of his investigations of the stratifications of glacial clays (Varven) undertaken in Sweden. The latter gave the figure of 6,900 years B. C. for the end of the glacial period and 12,600 years B. C. for the end of the Danish glacial period. (108)
Since the most southern glacial period of Sweden, or, alongside of Central Europe, took place some 13,000 to 15,000 years ago, by analogy one can judge that, in the same latitudes, and at the same levels above the sea, in both North and South America, the same thing occurred.
However, in certain parts of the South American continent this climatic phenomenon took place in a different way; this was particularly true in those regions which in a recent geological period already had a considerable elevation above sea level, as is the case in that great expanse of territories, tablelands and lakes enclosed between the two Andean mountain ranges—the Cordillera Marítima and the Cordillera Real, and which had already risen to a considerable height since the Tertiary period and were, moreover, relatively near the equator.
The Bolivian Altiplano, for example, the prehistoric seat of the greatest culture of the Americas, which, as we shall prove farther on, did not have the great height above sea level that it has today, did not because of its proximity to the equator, undergo a glacial period as long as that in the territories of present-day Argentina. For this reason, it harbored human cultures much before other sections or in a period when the Argentinian territories were still covered by the continental ice which at the present geological moment and for some thousands of years more, has withdrawn to the Antarctic.
It has been proven, by the studies and conclusions of celebrated authorities in modern geology and geography, especially by the monumental works of Professor Albrecht Penck, former Director and Founder of the Oceanographic Institute of Berlin, that the continental ices of Europe exerted an enormous pressure on those lands, over which they lay. As a result these lands descended and after the glacial masses had melted or retired from those zones, freed of their weight the territories rose again.
This same phenomenon of the rising of territories — after being freed of a covering or glacial weight — doubtless took place on the Altiplano of Bolivia in a much more intense form than in other parts of the world, due to the fact that it was located at a considerable height and relatively near the equator.
Because of this greater height above sea level its climate, after the Tertiary period, was never torrid; and because of this same elevation — naturally not as pronounced as that of the present time — and owing to the proximity to the equator, that glacial period lasted there much less time as compared with other lands of the South; thus there could develop there, in a relatively remote period (First Period of Tihuanacu) great human cultures, which probably did not yet exist in such a grade of development on other parts of our planet.
When the great Andean lake was formed at the end of the last glacial period, the following phenomenon occured: the ices melted first in those zones relatively near the equator and the enormous pressure or weight which rested on the mountain ranges and high table lands of the Andean regions disappeared very gradually.
Then those territories began to rise slowly also, while the zones to the south, like those of Argentina, because of their distance from the equator, still supported for a long time an enormous covering of ice which held these regions, in various places, still submerged under the ocean, regions designated today as pampa formation. In other zones located farther to the north, a little above sea level, the regions remained in a static condition.
Little by little, or rather, century by century, the northern part of the present Altiplano and mountain ranges rose as a result of the cessation of the aforementioned weight of the ice, and it was then that there was produced an initial inclination which drained the first great glacial lake. Afterwards there occurred that other inclination — so enigmatic a short time ago — of the last post-glacial lake or Lake Tihuanacu the shore line of which a we have pointed out, we followed on one of our last expeditions for 400 kilometers.
There have always existed in the inter-Andean regions extensive salt lakes. These were naturally of lower level and existed much before the last glaciation. They no doubt had their origin in the Tertiary period when the continent emerged for the first time, suspending waters of the ocean and forming the mountain ranges. From that distant period there also comes the ichthyic marine fauna of these waters, the descendants of which still live, completely degenerated, in Lake Titicaca and Lake Poopó.
In the light of this discussion it is very difficult to think that the culture of man on the Altiplano and the construction of his magnificent metropolis belongs to a relatively recent epoch.
12. One of the proofs with which we can also reinforce our assertion concerning the enormous age of Tihuanacu, is that in the folklore of the Altiplano nothing is related of traditions which allude even remotely to the origin and object of that magnificent metropolis. It is unquestionable that a huge culture like that of Tihuanacu would have left an imperishable recollection in the minds of the men who inhabited this part of the Andes, if it had been evolved in a relatively recent period.
But it did not happen thus; no memory has remained of that epoch; already at the time of the Conquest, the Indians, when asked regarding the age of Tihuanacu, replied that those monuments had always been there or that they had appeared on the dawn of a very remote day or that they were constructed by a race of giants, called “Huaris”, before Chamak-pacha. This matter of Chamak-pacha in Aymara or Purin-pacha in Keshua is extremely interesting.
Both words mean “period of darkness.” This tradition extends not only to South America but also to the most northerly part of North America. According to it reference is obviously made to a glacial epoch in which the sun lacked thermic power or was not so visible and as a result did not benefit human beings with its life-giving rays. It would involve a long discussion to enter into details about this aspect and we wish only to touch on it lightly because of its great interest. (109)
13. Another proof which we can bring to bear, and with greater reason, to prove the very great age of the culture of Tihuanacu, is that connected with the great diffusion attained over the whole continent by the famous “Staircase Sign.” This sign, it can be asserted, originated in Tihuanacu and represents the fundamental cosmological idea (110) as well as the worship of Mother Earth (Pacha-mama).
This sacred symbol, like the cross of the Redeemer in Christian religion, spread from Tierra del Fuego to Alaska. It has now lost its meaning owing to the present cultural state of native population. Because of it one can say that in every place where the culture of this continent has appeared, there can be noted a substratal Tihuanacu.
14. SUMMARY: If one wished to collect all of the ideas about the great age of the civilization of Tihuanacu with the attendant bases and proofs, one could fill a whole book. But we feel certain that in the preceding paragraphs we have outlined in a clear and synthetic form, the nature of such proofs, which are: astronomical, anthropological, paleontological, geological, petrographic and sociological.
By consulting the literature cited in the notes accompanying the text, complete and precise information may be had about all the subjects which have been treated very hastily in the present chapter.
(90)Unfortunately, we were not familiar with this work when we made our first efforts to determine the age of Tihuanacu, and finally in 1914, Professor F. S. Archenhold, Director of the Observatory of Treptow (Berlin) called our attention to this notable publication.
(91) This guidebook was the continuation of our still ordinary studies on Tihuanacu, made known before the Fourth Scientific Congress (First Pan-American Congress) which was held in 1908 in Santiago de Chile and in the Anales (Vol. XI) where the studies were published: “Studies of the Third Section, Natural, Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences” (Vol. I, pp. 1-142). Since the Guia de Tihuanacu, Islas del Sol, etc. was published in the absence, of the author, he was unable to correct the proofs, and it came out with several mutilated lines in the section dealing with the age of Tihuanacu. This fact gave rise to polemics and malicious interpretations. Cf. Posnansky: “Así habla la Esfinge Indiana”, La Paz, 1926.
(92) Cf. “La edad de Tihuanacu”, Boletín de la Sociedad Geográfica de La Paz, 1918.
(93) Der Sonnentempel in den Ruinen von Tihuanacu. Versucb einer astronomischen Allersbestimmung, Berlin, Dietrich Reimer, 1931.
(94) Cf. Posnansky, El pasado prehistórico del Gran Perú. Chap. IV: “El descubrimiento de las ruinas de Chuju Perkha y su Importancia para el advenimiento del hombre en América”, pp. 47-53. La Paz, Bolivia, Editorial “Instituto Tihuanacu”, 1940.
(95) Becker of the Specula Vaticana, Kohlschütter of the Astronomical Observatory of Bonn, Müller of the Astronomical Observatory of Potsdam. Professor H. Ludendorff also carried out studies with us in Tihuanacu.
(96) Cf. p. 50 of Das Weltall, 24 Jhrg. 2 Heft, November, 1924, in the article: “Kulturvorgeschichtliches u. die astronomische Bedeutung des Sonnentempels v. Tihuanacu in Bolivien”. (With nine illustrations).
(97) With the preceding data our preliminary statements have been rectified; they are: (1) In the Guía de Tihuanacu, 1912; (2) In the Boletín de la Sodedad Geográfica de La Paz, 1918; (3) In the Weltall, No. 24, 1924; (4) In the lecture given at The Hague and published in the Andes del Congreso International de Americanistas, 1924; (5) In “Notas cronológicas de Tihuanacu” in Proceedings of the Twenty-third International Congress of Americanists, Sept., 1928, New York, 1931; (6) In the works which we carried out in company with Professor Rudolf Miiller during the years 1928-29 and which he published in the Baesler Archiv, 1931.
(98) An Aymara expression which means “standing stones.”
(99) The maps in question are preserved in the “Institute Tihuanacu de Antropología, Etnología y Prehistoria”, La Paz, Miraflores, Calle Pinilla 556, founded by the author in the year 1914 with his own funds and without the aid of governments, institutions, or private individuals.
(100) We repeat what was stated on p. 29 of our work El Pasado Prebistórico del Gran Perú to the effect that fossilization is not an evident indication of very great age.
(101) Cf. Posnansky, Templos y viviendas, 1921, p. 30, Fig. 3 and id., id., infra in the corresponding chapter of the present work.
(102) Cf. id., “La remoción del cíngulo climatérico” in Proceedings of the Twenty-third International Congress of Americanists, Sept., 1928, New York.
(103) Cf. Figs. 3 and 5 of Vol. I.
(104) lt is known that this platform, as well as the temple itself, were started in the First Period, because they still preserve the orientation of that primitive period, the same as that of the primitive temple and Pukara of Akapana.
(105) Cf. Posnansky, Antropología y sociología, 2nd ed. 1938, pp. 106-112.
(106) Cf. id., El pasado prehistórico del Gran Perú, Fig. 21: Drawing showing the fluctuations of Lake Titicaca from 1914 to 1940; also Boletines de la Sociedad Geográfica de La Paz, Nos. 64 and 66.
(107) Id., “La remoción del cíngulo climatérico etc.”, loc. cit.
(108) Cf. De Geer Gerard, Om moejlighten of att injoera en Kronologie foer instiden Geol Foeren 6, 1882; id., Om de definitive foerbindelsen nellan den svenska tidskalen senglaciala och postglaciala del Geol. joeren, 46, 1924.
(109) The tradition of the “Huaris”, of Poma de Ayala and others, as the forebears of the man of culture is extremely old among the inhabitants of the mountain range of the continent. In our opinion, it has its origin in the discovery of gigantic bones of extinct animal species by the Indians, in places where the currents of water revealed them. This supposition is supported even further by the meaning of the word “Huari” or “Wari” which means in Keshua “Cameloidea” (vicuña) Phelipe Guaman Poma de Ayala, in his Crónica y buert gobierno (end of the sixteenth century), when he considers the primitive ancestors of the Indians, alludes to the “Pakarimoj-runa” and “Wari-runa.” .
(110) Cf. Posnansky, El signo escalonado, Berlin; 1912; El pasado prehistórico del Gran Perú, La Paz, 1940; “Es o no oriundo el hombre lamericano en América? Puntos de contacto lingüístico y dogmático en las Américas”, in Anales del Vigésimo-séptimo Congreso International de Americanistas, (Mexico City, 1939) Vol. I, pp. 98-118. See also Introduction to American Indian Art. Part. II. Kenneth M. Chapman. Indian Pottery, pág. 8, Introduction to American Indian Art by John Sloan and Oliver La Farge, Part I. Plate XVI.
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The Astronomic Science of Tihuanacu. How Kalasasaya was Built to be Used as a Stone Almanac