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Unexplained / Unknown Earth / Mysterious Places / Tiahuanaco, Misteries on the Andes / 

Tiahuanaco, Misteries on the Andes

The semi-underground temple

At 3846 metres of height, in a desert tableland landscape in the Andes, there are the remains of an ancient pre-Incaic empire enveloped in legends and mysteries, likely one of the archaeo-logical sites the most controversial all over the world.

Looking at the monuments of Tiahuanaco, you are impressed by the perfection and majesty of these monolithic buildings that have resisted stoically to wind and ice over thousands years.

Archaeologists agree upon the fact that the monoliths of Tiahuanaco have been built by the same culture in the period around 1200 b.C., but their opinions are at variance about the origins of this culture.Economy lied over natural irrigation agriculture. Since the nearness to the Titicaca Lake, people ate fish besides tubers.

Already in this first phase they developed a particular kind of ceramics, mustard bottom with incisions and motifs, outlined in red, grey and white. By those times it started also the metal drafting, especially cupper. Dead were buried in circular holes, with their personal belongings and funereal objects. The qualitative leap from village to town occurred in the I century a.C., thanks to the use of irrigations channels that increased the agricultural output, producing this way the wealth enough to carry out architectonics works of increasing significance.

So the classic era started. Monuments of volcanic andesite, the material preferred by the Tiahuanaco sculptors, were embellished.

Other towns were built round Tiahuanaco, and then it started the first clashes with neighbours.

The Tiahuanaco warriors covered their heads with puma or jaguar hides wanting to achieve the agility and the savagery of these felines.

We know very few about the spirituality of this population: too much has been destroyed over centuries. It is conjectured that they adored the same divinities survived on the Andes till now.


The most important is Pacha Mama, the Mother Earth, and then mountains, the reflections on water, sunrays and meteorological elements. The central figure on the Sun Gate is the image of a face in tears: surely it's not the Inti God, the Sun Divinity of the Inca that appeared in later ages. Maybe is Viracocha, the god the Creator, whose effigy embellishes many images and little sculptures. Or maybe is the mask of a devotee that invented the cult. This cult of the mask could be employed by the Tiahuanaco to impose on other populations also the political and economic power.

To the classic epoch succeded the expansion imperial one. We are now in the VII century a.C. and the town is inhabited by 90.000 people, with an area of 600.000 square kilometres of extension. The empire extends as far as the Pacific coast on the west, through the tableland of the Andes and to the subtropical valleys limiting the Amazonian forest on the east.

New administrative centres established. One is Wari that becomes rival of Tiahuanaco, as Byzantium was by its time of Rome, and Cajamrca of Cuzco.The collapse of Tiahuanaco occurred fast and for unknown causes. We do not have traces of either natural catastrophes or invasions. But overpopulation, disastrous harvests, internal fights, decay, town-rural clashes and succession wars could be the reason of the decay.

The most suggestive part of Tiahuanaco is the temple of Kalassasaya. It's an open temple, built on a huge platform. Foundations, walls, flights of steps and arches are of giant monolith blocks. Kalassasaya was likely an observatory, since its construction follows astronomic lines.

There are three important works inside: the Ponce monolith, the monolith of the devotee and the famous Sun Gate, a massive arc cut in only one andesite piece. Engravings on the face are the most elaborated expression of the Tiahuanaco art.

In the XVI century the missionary Diego de Alcobaso wrote: "On a platform I saw a column of splendid statues, so real that they seemed alive. Men and woman, some standing other seated in daily attitudes. Women had children on their knees or shoulders."

Today the most of these statues has disappeared. Destroyed by the religious zeal of priests or stolen by archaeologist plunderers.

Another fascinating building is the semi-underground temple, quadrangular, dug only in 1960. On its wall dozens of stone heads are fixed, and they likely represent war trophies.

In its centre there are some monoliths, one of which "bearded". An enigma for archaeologists, since it represents a bushy bearded person, while it is well known that Indians do not have beard. Up to today nobody has succeeded in explaining the origin of this population, able to build a metropolis on the parched land of a sterile tableland.

The archaeologist Arthur Posnansky, that studied Tiahuanaco thirty years ago, dates back the town to 12.000 years ago.

A theory involves Celtic navigators (that would explain the beard of the monolith) that got there imposing themselves on natives. Other theories even more daring, take into consideration vanished continents and antediluvian cultures. But the mystery is still there.

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Comment from Marijanus for Tiahuanaco, Misteries on the Andes
Hello all Hi, you have a nice site, good Luck!!! give thanks Burkhard Pfizer berirtrerejas
Comment from Marijanus for Tiahuanaco, Misteries on the Andes
Hello! Hello all! Very nice site and very informativity! give thanks Bjorn Steinhauer berirtrerejas
Comment from dylan for Tiahuanaco, Misteries on the Andes
some of the subjects on this site are very interesting and fun to read. however, whoever writes the articles is near illiteracy. they can't spell, the syntax and word placement is so horrendous that it is almost unreadable, and they even have a hard time conjugating verbs. it leads me to believe that whoever wrote this was taught english as a second language. if you are going to print your articles in english it would be helpful if you used someone who could at least spell. a few misspellings are inevitable but that is why we have "spellcheck" on the computer, and misspelling a word in the title, "Misteries" is inexcusable. i am an english graduate student and would be happy to help if you would care to email.
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