Spanish Version

Monday, July 18, 2011

Tiwanaku - A Trip back in time to a lost civilization

But how can we travel in time? We certainly know that there is no time machine capable to do that. However, if we use our unlimited imagination and with the help of some photos this is possible. Moreover, some archeologists, scientists and movie makers do that in order to study and understand old civilizations taken just what they can observe. We can do the same.

We are going to visit a fairly unknown civilization, with many uncertainties, which is called Tiwanaku. It is located 43 miles (70 km) from La Paz city at an altitude of 12700 ft (3885 meters) above see level and it is an almost obligatory step for any tourist visiting this part of South America. The site is in the highlands of Bolivia very close to the famous Titicaca Lake. It is one of the oldest known cultures of the continent (1500 BC to 1200 AD) and its ruins are full of uncertainties that give rise to many theories. This is why there are many stories and legends, but in reality there is little known, since no written records exists. Even when the famous Incas arrived, this civilization was already in ruins. 
Tiwanaku is composed of a complex of religious and administrative buildings with many interesting and eye-catching details.
3D Scheme of the site. 1) Semi-subterranean temple. 2) Kalasasaya Temple. 3) Akapana Pyramid 4) Putuni
Kalasasaya Temple that means stand up stones. In fact the names of all the buildings and sculptures were set after the end of the culture

It is very interesting to note how the temples and buildings are aligned with the stars, showing a deep knowledge of astronomy. If you visit the area in the rainy season you can see how the drainage channels constructed with right slopes still work after thousand of years showing that their engineering and technical knowledge was pretty high. It seems that we have much to learn from them, since our construction works do not last more than a few years!
Semi-subterranean temple

Other technological advances seem very impressive for their time such as the speakers they had. They show a deep knowledge of acoustics compared to what we currently know. We can imagine the ancient leaders given speeches to their people in these devices. Without electricity they could amplify the voice better than many modern appliances.
Interior detail of a load speaker
Human faces carved in stone
Detail of a face
Another face detail
Another impressive aspect is the diversity of faces craved in stone in the semi-subterranean temple, which shows the possibility that at that time many different ethnic and cultural differences were known. This is comparable to the differences that we can notice among the tourists visiting this site. It is very interesting to see also that the tourist guides are of the same community. They mention with pride that are descendants of this culture, like the current president, Evo Morales, who took over the government in this site using many elements of this culture.
It is also impressive the large blocks of stone that make up the ruins, which were transported by unknown means from distant quarries. We can guess different ways to do that, but the problem gets more complicated if we add that they were apparently unaware of the wheel use. We can find large sculptured monoliths between these stones that are quite charismatic.
Entrance to the Kalasasaya Temple
Lateral view of one of the walls of the temple

Lateral stairs to the temple
Many scientists have studied the famous door of the sun or "puerta del sol" in Spanish and they have come with several theories. Some state that it represents a calendar with solar year duration widely different from the one we know today and others connect it to lost continents and aliens. What we know for sure is that there are many questions without answers. For example the amount of sediments that cover the ruins (which is estimated about 6 ft or 1.8 m) does not have an explanation and some believe that this could only be generated by a Flood catastrophe. Considering that only about 10% of the ruins have been unearthed and studied, there are still many missing keys to the past to be unveiled.
The famous Sun's door
Ponce Monolith
Another monolith called "Fraile" (priest) in Spanish
Akapana Pyramid

If you have the opportunity to visit the place, go there and see carefully where you step, because without much effort, you can find a piece of genuine pottery for free.
In the mean time you can let your imagination fly away...

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