The real top 5 unexplained (just for fun, con’t)
#4 Tiwanacu and Puma Punku
TIAHUANUCO lies almost in the very center 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.
he 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.
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.
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 Puma Punku 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 Puma Punku 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 lying about are between 100 and 150 tons. The quarry for these giant blocks was on the shore of Titicaca, some ten miles away.
The most intriguing thing about Puma Punku is the stonework. Puma Punku was a terraced earthen mound originally faced with megalithic blocks, each weighing several tens of tons. The red sandstone and andesite stones were cut in such a precise way that they fit perfectly into and lock with each other without using mortar. The technical finesse and precision displayed in these stone blocks is astounding. Not even a razor blade can slide between the rocks. Some of these blocks are finished to ‘machine’ quality and the holes drilled to perfection. This is supposed to have been achieved by a civilization that had no writing system and was ignorant of the existence of the wheel. Something doesn’t add up.
While exact dating of the culture that produced these sites is not known, the most recent estimates place the time frame in the 12 – 15,000 BC range!
stay tuned for #3 nest week