Monday, October 19, 2015

Was Lake Titicaca Once Connected to the Ocean?

At one time, Tiahuanaco and Puma Punku, the latter a large earthen platform mound with three levels of stone retaining walls, was considered to be one of the most memorable sites ever found in the Americas, and at its peak, it is thought to have been “unimaginably wondrous.” What could have happened to giant stones weighing a hundred tons each to throw them around like “popcorn in a skillet?"
One of several drawings made when Tiahuanaco was first discovered and before the railroad took huge stones and broke them up for road ballast
    Tiahuanacu (also called Tiwanaku), situated on the shores of Lake Titicaca along the border of Peru and Bolivia, is a mystery because of its peculiar stone technology, and because of its age (estimated to be anywhere from first two millennia B.C. to 17,000 years old). Following the Spanish conquest, when chroniclers traveled through the Andes asking natives about their history, etc., they ran across this ancient and impressive site. When asked how old it was, or who had built it, the Inca could only say they did not know, but it had been built long before the Inca, and in fact, long before any of their most ancient ancestors.
    In addition, another interesting factor is involved in Tiahuanaco and that is the ruins were obviously once at sea level. Every test made bears this out, including seawater once covering the cliffsides around the ruins, the salt flats in the drainage direction from the lake where salt water ocean has evaporated over time, and the ruins of an extensive stone pier and docks that could berth a hundred ships. There have also been found millions of marine fishes and seahorses and fossilized seashells, all of which were oceanic types found only in salt water.
Part of a gigantic dock arrangement though the ruins are at 12,500 feet and 12 to 15 miles from the nearby Lake Titicaca (depending on its level), which would not have needed a dock to berth hundreds of ships
    Believed to have been occupied by between 40,000 and 100,000 occupants, we simply do not know what the site originally looked like. It appears to have been destroyed in some great upheaval in ancient times, but it is the seaport that appears most confusing to archaeologists. Strangely, on the rock cliffs near the piers and wharfs of the port area are yellow-white calcareous deposits forming long, straight lines indicating pre-historic water levels.
    According to the arguable work of Arthur Posansky (1945), what appears to be the original seashore is strangely tilted, as if a tremendous geological upheaval had taken place. It has been pointed out that the salinity of the lake and its having an "oceanic" fauna was either faulty or out of date; however, that does not explain all the other factors that lead to such an upheavel, including Titicaca being the deepest such navigatable lake in the world, the calcareous water-line deposits, the extensive size and complexity of the docks, the layered levels of salt flats. The point is, when put together, all these variables as individual factors seem possibly answerable, but taken as a whole, there would be no other way to account for such results but an uplift of such magnitude.
    Especially when you consider that these ancient shorelines are strangely tilted, although once they must have been level, and such tilting of the ancient shoreline striations and the abundant presence of fossilized oceanic flora and fauna, that a tremendous uplift of land took place anciently. In addition, the surrounding area is covered with millions of fossilized seashells, and oceanic creatures live to this day in abundance in the salty waters of the lake, indicating that it was once a part of the ocean, although it is now over 2 miles above sea-level. What seems to be the original seashore is much higher in one place than in another. This port city, now called Puma Punku or "Door of the Puma," is an area filled with enormous stone blocks scattered like matchsticks, and weighing between 100 and 130 tons! One block still in place weighs an estimated 440 tons!  The docks opened to an East Sea (now called the Pebasian Sea by geologists) that once inundated the South American landmass east of what is now the Andes Mountains. This was no port city along a lake since some of the docks and piers are so large that hundreds of ships could dock comfortably,suggesting an enormous shipping business as singled out by Mormon in his abridgement (Helaman 3:14). We know of course that the Nephites had a ship-building center along the West Sea (Alma 63:5), a comparable docking and building arrangement on the East Sea wold make sense.
    This port of Tiahuanacu, called Puma Punku or "Door of the Puma," is an area filled with enormous stone blocks scattered hither and yon like matchsticks, yet weighing over 100 tons and one can only wonder how these blocks were quarried, how they were transported from the quarries to the building site, and how the builders managed to place such huge blocks so skillfully to form this massive complex of megalithic buildings. And above all, what tremendous forces could have tumbled these gigantic stones over one another as if they were light as driftwood? Archeologists have no answers.
    Archaeologists have, however, determined that Tiahuanaco was a major sacred ceremonial center and focal point of a culture that spread across much of the region. The ancient people built a stone pyramid known as the Akapana.
The 59-feet tall Akapana Pyramid resembles a hill more than a pyramid. Surrounding the pyramid was a large arrangement of small, single-family homes that were later replaced by large square compounds; however, by 950 A.D. all building here had stopped
    The modern oceanic character of the faunas of Lake Titicaca and the surrounding water ways, along with the chemical composition of the salt deserts support the conclusion of a huge uplift of these mountains from out of the sea in some not-to-distant time. Additional confirmation is to be found in the recent age of the strand—lines left by this ancient sea on the slopes of the mountains enclosing the Altiplano.
    Bellamy called this body of water the Inter—Andean Sea. Indeed, when H. P. Moon wrote his account of the geology of the region he put great stress on the “.. . freshness of many of the strand-lines and the modern character of such fossils as occur.”
    A few miles south of Lake Titicaca lies Tiahuanaco. Of these ruins A. Hyatt Verrill wrote: “Although the ruins are now over thirteen miles from Lake Titicaca there are reasons to think that in the days when the city was occupied it stood on the shores of the Lake itself or on an arm, or bay, for traces of what was apparently a dock or mole are to be seen just north of the principal rums. If so the lake has receded.
    Bellamy refers to a “canal” which appears to have surrounded the principal group of ruins at Tiahuanaco, including the structure referred to as the “fortress” and adds:
Some explorers of the site of Tiahuanaco are of the opinion that the “canal” was, at most, only a “dry—moat,” and hence will not concede that the peculiar rectangular depressions near the ruins were once actual docks or harbor basins.

Gold Square: Tiahuanaco; Red Arrow: Direction of drainage; Right: Salt Flats to the south of Titicaca. Obviously, when the lake began to drain after being shoved 12,500 feet into the air, ocean salt water was left along its banks and toward the drainage area to the south, leaving the famed Salt Flats
    Bellamy concluded that the builders of Tiahuanaco, who obtained their material from quarries many miles distant, for structures which in their skilled and accurate masonry alone remain a mystery, floated their stone blocks in a roughly squared condition on large rafts and that the foundering of these occasionally would leave “dumps” of, in effect, raw material where now found along the way.

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