Monday, January 3, 2011

The Ancient Nephite City of Tiahuanacu – Part II

The blocks tossed around at Tiwanaku by the earthquake, storms and tumultulous events described in 3 Nephi, were enormous in size, many weighing upwards of 200 tons, and in some cases held together by large metallic, I-shaped couplers, rather than interlocking shapes as at Sacsahuaman in Cuzco. Other blocks were held together by silver rivets. The system used here is reminiscent of that used in the Egyptian ruins on Elephantine Island on the Nile. Most researchers believe that the metal was actually poured into I-shaped slots carved into the rock.

One of several large meticulously carved Andesite blocks at the Tiwanaku seaport called Puma Punku.

At Tiwanaku, the ancient Nephite city that was once along the East Sea just south of the City of Lehi-Nephi in the Land of Nephi, the ancient sea port wharfs are about a quarter of a mile or so northeast of the temples, pyramids and palaces of the main city. Recent excavation shows evidence of a population of 30,000 to 40,000 people. The main part of the city consists of several buildings, with the placement and proximity of the Acapana Pyramid, the Kalasasaya, the semi-Subterranean Temple, and a so-called "Palace,” indicating they were components of a ceremonial center.

Map of the ceremonial center of Tiahuanacu

The Acapana Pyramid is a step pyramid—like the ones in Egypt and Mesoamerica—and is aligned perfectly with the cardinal directions. It originally had a covering of smooth Andesite stone, but 90% of that has disappeared. The ruinous state of the pyramid is due to its being used as a stone quarry for later religious buildings by the Catholic Church at La Paz, and for breaking up into road base by the Peruvian railroad, who destroyed most of the huge blocks the Spaniards said were still standing as walls and buildings when they arrived.

An 1833 drawing of what was left of the walls after the railroad broke up many and used for their nearby railroad base

The interior of the pyramid is honeycombed with shafts in a complicated grid pattern, which incorporates a system of weirs used to direct water from a tank on top, going through a series of levels, and finally ending up in a stone canal surrounding the pyramid. The function of this hydraulic system is baffling to archeologists, who have drummed up a number of theoretical explanations, however, the Lord’s people have always used irrigation to turn arid places into gardens.

In addition, figures flanking the centerpiece are themselves unfinished, leading investigators to wonder what could have interrupted the craftsmen working on the gate that it was left unfinished. How did this ancient monolith get broken in half, and why was it lying askew deep in silt until restored to its proper position in 1908. In fact, all the ruins were covered in a deep layer of muddy silt until excavated and partially restored. While scientists believe some geologically significant event must have occurred which left these ruins in such disorder, the Book of Mormon makes that event crystal clear in 3 Nephi. When those earthquakes occurred that “changed all the face of the land” and lifted the Andes up out of the coastal region of the East Sea to mountains “whose height is great,” the buildings at Tiwanaku, including the temples, were thrown about like childrens toy blocks.

Upon the Gate and elsewhere animals were represented in carvings—one of which has been identified as an elephant with its obvious long proboscid. Scientists claim this was a Pleistoceneera Cuverionius, having been long extinct, thus causing them to date these ruins to a period between 12,000 and 15,000 years ago. However, the Book of Mormon shows that elephants were brought to the Land of Promise by the Jaredites (Ether 9:19), which would date the period after 2200 B.C. (See the book “Who Really Settled Mesoamerica” for a clear understanding of this).

(See the next post, “The Ancient Nephite City of Tiahuanacu – Part III,” for further information about this fabulous ancient city)

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