“Tiahuanaco” is the Spanish spelling for this site and is what I will use in this post. Located in Western Bolivia it was first discovered by the Conquistador Pedro Cieza de Leon who came upon the ruins in 1549 as he was searching for the Inca capital. It’s now believed that Tiahuanaco was inhabited around 1500 BC when it may have been a simple and small farming site. It is also believed that the site became a ceremonial and cosmological center sometime around 300 BC lasting until around 300 AD. Some researchers believe the site was a place of pilgrimage and achieved an important place before the Tiwanaku people began to expand their empire.
It’s most likely that since the fall of the Tiwanaku this site has been looted and destroyed by locals and others. For example the locals took stones from the site to use in their own building and wall construction. The railroad used material from the site to build their railroads. And the military used to use the site for target practice! The result was that no standing buildings survived at the site and all that remains are the foundations that now form the foot of reconstructed walls in modern times! Further, buildings originally at the site appear to have been used for different purposes over time and this explains why there is a mix of artifacts today.
Back in the 1960’s the Bolivian government launched an effort to “restore” the site and “reconstruct” at least parts of it. One of these “restorations” involved reconstructing the wall around the temple (Kalasasaya). It is believed that the original wall stones resembled a Stonehenge style meaning the stones stood upright and were evenly spaced apart. The reconstruction of the wall, however, was NOT based on research nor is the modern wall of high quality stonework. Additionally, the famous Gateway of the Sun which is now within the Kalasasaya compound was MOVED there and, thus, is NOT in its original position! Also, the Gateway of the Sun was cemented back together after it was split apparently by an earthquake.
Modern professional excavation didn’t really begin at this site until 1978 when the University of Chicago dispatched anthropologist Alan Kolata to the site along with his Bolivian colleague Oswaldo Rivera. Among other discoveries Kolata and Rivera uncovered evidence that the collapse of the Tiwanaku culture was due to climate change in the form of an extended drought. Cranial deformation evidence has been found in burials as well as in surrounding areas as well. To me this is yet more evidence the cranial deformation (the elongation of the skull) was more widespread in South America than we might think.
The Tiahuanaco site today is a UNESCO world heritage site and under the control of the Bolivian government. Exploration and excavation continues at the site. In 2009 the Bolivian government sponsorship of the restoration work was halted on the Akapana Pyramid at the site when UNESCO complained about facing the pyramid with adobe. Research has not established that the pyramid was ever faced with adobe!
The Puerta del Sol (Gateway of the Sun) is one of the most striking features at the Tiahuanaco site. It along with other structures are believed to have been moved from their original positions compounding research at the site. This structure is the most famous but there are others at the site to be noted. For instance, the Gate of the Moon (Puerta de la Luna) is another amazing structure. In fact, there are several gateways within the ruins as well as artificial mounds, platforms, and sunken courts. Many of the gateways depict the “Staff God” which was a major deity of Andean cultures. And, of course, the very interesting site known as Puma Punku (or Pumapunku) is also present at this location. This is a large temple complex that is part of the Tiahuanaco site dated at around 536 AD or possibly later.
The Inca held the belief that Tiahuanaco was the place where the world was created by the gods. “Puma Punku” means “The Door of the Puma” in the Aymara dialect. This part of the Tiahuanaco site is composed of a western court that has no wall and a terraced platform mound faced with stone and a walled eastern court. It also houses a central promenade or esplanade that is not walled. Of course the most striking feature at Puma Punku are the exquisite stone blocks with what appear to be astonishing holes, grooves, all precisely cut and that make one wonder how these people accomplished this without machinery.
Many theories have been suggested concerning this site ranging from “ruins of Atlantis” to “ruins of Mu” to “ancient aliens” to the place having once been a seaport (although it is high above the sea today). There are also local tales about the site ranging from the mundane to the bizarre.
In my mind this site demonstrates our gross misconception about ancient man/cultures. Obviously, these people were very capable of producing magnificent works of stone, art, and geometry! Obviously, the builders of Tiahuanaco and associated Puma Punku were intelligent and had some highly developed skills. I do not believe this site was built by “ancient aliens.” I believe we are looking at a fantastic site built by an intelligent people on a scale that rivals Rome, Greece, and Egypt! Why must the narrative be that ancient people in the Americas must be so “savage” when there is PLENTY of evidence to prove otherwise? It is our own ethnocentrism that blinds us, once again, to the reality of the Americas of the past! The people of Native America were intelligent and ingenious. They had works of art, science, culture, astronomy, monument building, et al which is just as good as (and in some cases better) anything found in the “cradle of Western civilization.”
Finally let me say a bit about the “ancient alien” theory. There is no doubt in my mind that human beings are the only intelligent lifeforms in the universe. In fact I think the universe is teeming with life perhaps some like us and perhaps some not. Did some of these “aliens” visit our ancestors in the remote past? Maybe but I think if they did it was likely for observation. I think human beings built most of the fantastic megaliths and sites we find today from ancient times. I think it more likely that at some point in the remote past there were high civilizations of humans! Frankly, I think the Hopi oral traditions about the Four World (eras) is likely closer to the truth than anything else. Man has risen and man has fallen! Great things have been achieved by humans and great human achievements have come to ruins! We make a mistake by assuming past high civilizations operated with technology akin to our own in the modern day. For instance, our steel, glass, and concrete structures will not last long once our civilizations end. The ancients knew that stone lasts and I think that is why they used stone for their structures. Further, ancient people were much more in touch with being a part of nature than we are. We see nature as our enemy. They did not! And this is the difference between us and them in my opinion!
Lastly, regarding elongated human skulls….. likely it was a cultural thing pertaining to the society elites. The elongated skull was a sign of the princely class. However, there MAY be more than meets the eye in this. These HUMANS with elongated skulls may well have been some other species of human or some hybrid species of human! But, whatever the case, they were HUMAN not aliens!! My own suspicion if this is the case it that they were some hybrid form of Homo erectus whose skull was elongated and we know that from this species remains. It’s nice to think everything fits into a nice little box. Problem is that everything does NOT fit into that little box! We need to broaden our vision and our theories. We need to change our view of the ancient ones because there is bountiful evidence that they were NOT the barbarians we tend to think of them as! We need to give OUR HUMAN SPECIES more credit because MOST of what we find on this planet was built by HUMANS…intelligent and visionary humans!