Tiwanaku is an ancient site located about 70 km from La Paz. It is considered the most important archeological monument in Bolivia. In the first millennium of our era Tiwanaku was the centre of a mighty empire, built not by conquest, but by religious conversion. Its original name is unknown, as there is no fully clarity neither to which language its inhabitants spoke nor where they went after Tiwanaku was abandoned following a catastrophic change in climate. Aymara, quechua and even uros all pretend to be Tiwanaku’s descendants and have quite elaborate theories to prove it. Whatever is the truth, Tiwanaku is a legendary centre for them all.
The most famous object in Tiwanaku – the Sun Gate:
From another point:
Tiwanaku is about 10 km from Lake Titicaca. The valley is relatively flat, however in the North the mountains rise up suddenly. In fact not much is left from the ancient edifices, but the fantasy somehow runs free in this strange and fascinating place.
The minibus which brings you from La Paz and the deserted valley:
The artist’s vision of how the complex looked at the height of its might. The main edifices were a couple of pyramid and walled temples.
The entrance to the complex and in the distance what is left from the main pyramid, Akapana. Akapana was a gigantic building in the form of a cross, about 250 to 200 metres. The stone with a hole is an ancient megaphone, still functioning pretty well today, as our guide demonstrated – his words spoken softly into the orifice on the other side were heard for a number of metres.
The so-called Ponce Stela in the Kalasasaya temple next to Akapana. The statues in Tiwanaku look so mysterious that it is no surprise that they too inspire theories about ancient alien visits. Stela Ponce for example is seen as a worker holding two electronic tools in his hands.
In my minibus there was a Bolivian who spoke with considerable charisma about various exotic Tiwanaku theories. I spoke to him at length and he finally disclosed to me that he himself works as a guide and his task on this particular trip was to incognito assess quality. He told me that the Aymara hold massive celebrations in Tiwanaku on the day of solstice, as they see themselves descendants of the Tiwanaku dwellers. Also President Evo’s inauguration took place right here.
He also told me that the shape of Akapana pyramid – the cross – corresponded to the South Cross constellation and on particular days of the year the South Cross stands right above the water reservoir that was placed on the top of the pyramid. In this the Sky and the Earth were united in ideal symmetry, as the water reflected the cross of the stars. Today the reservoir is empty and llamas and alpacas graze there peacefully.
It also turned out that the ritual objects on Isla del Sol, the centre of Tiwanaku, the snow capped Illamani volcano next to La Paz and another volcano nearby all lie on the same direct line. In general, as opposed to the dialectical nature of our worldview, the Tiwanaku worldview was characterised as tetralectical – all aspects of the Universe had four, not two variations.
Archeological digs take place in Akapana today and recently they found the remains of human sacrifices – headless skeletons.
The overall view of Kalasasaya temple from the Akapana pyramid:
The wall of Kalasasaya temple:
One more stela in Kalasasaya:
Semisubterranean Temple. Through the gate we can see also the Ponce Stela in Kalasasaya.
The four walls of Subterranean Temple are covered with stone faces, all of 194 and all different. It is thought that the faces represented all the constituting tribes of Tiwanaku empire.
And one more:
In a couple of kilometres from the main complex there are traces of another pyramid, Pumapunku. This one is almost impossible to make out, however you can see the stone blocks which once covered the top platform of the pyramid. They are gigantic – the largest one weights 131 tons. There are numerous theories as to how they were brought here. The largest block:
Blocks were made in such a way as to fit each other, like Lego pieces:
They were also held together by a metallic I-letter shaped
One thought on “Tiwanaku”
Since alpacas are relatively new to North America,
it is helpful to review some common terminology used surrounding this camelid breed.