Monday, June 13, 2016

Nephi’s Journey Northward – From First Inheritance to City of Nephi – Part III

Continuing from the previous post as we follow Nephi and his small party putting a great distance between them and Nephi’s brothers and the sons of Ishmael who have threatened to kill Nephi and the others, as they head northward toward the area that is now Lake Titicaa, then on through the La Raya Pass, and into Cuzco. 
   The party soon would have reached or passed by Lake Titicaca—at the time a huge Bay or inlet far down the cliffside that would later under Nephite building become a huge harbor stretching clear to the future location of Tiahuanaco that would have docks that could handle thousands of ships according to archaeologists. Today, after being raised to its present 12,800 feet elevation, it is called Puma Punku (Door or Doorway of the Lions)—and much of it a shambles from being suddenly raised over 12,000 feet in a matter of some three hours as the Andes mountains came up and the Sea East drained eastward leaving behind the Amazon Basin.
    Part of the Tiahuanaco site, which is ¼ mile northeast of Puma Punku, that would someday have a population of 40,000 people somewhere around the time when Mosiah fled northward from the city of Nephi (a little northward and to the west). Some of the platforms on the east side of Puma Punku have the largest blocks, made of red sandstone and quarried from three miles away. Some of the stones used for the wharves were 25.6 feet long, 17 feet wide and 3.5 feet thick and estimated to weigh 131 tons.
The complex is in complete ruins today with huge blocks of granite weighing many tons lying around on top of each other having at one time been thrown about like toy blocks, evidently as the site was quickly elevated several thousand feet. The destruction was caused by an apparent earthquake, perhaps accompanied by a tidal wave from the ocean before the Andes shot upward.
    When Titicaca came upward, it trapped some of the ocean waters in the high mountains, creating the lake we see today, though it is much smaller now than when it rose because of evaporation, with the salt from the ocean dispersed over the valley down slope from the lake that is now the world’s largest salt flat, some twenty times larger than Bonnevile Salt Flats in Salt Lake.
A North-South cross section of the northern and central basins of the Altiplano with recent and past lake levels. Note the shape of the lake bottom, which was the ocean trapped among the rising peaks of the mountains when the Andes suddenly rose upward
    Lake Titicaca today is the highest navigable body of water in South America, and straddles the border between Peru and Bolivia. In the ruined sites of previous Nephite complexes, the Puma Punku temple offers one of the best examples of masonry skills in the whole of the pre-Columbian Americas. Other incredibly carved temple complexes such as the Peruvian walls of Sacsahuaman, or the masonry at Machu Pichu and Ollantaytambo almost pale to insignificance when compared with the sheer skill, accuracy and perfection achieved at Puma Punku.
    Today the site appears 'broken', and has been reduced to piles of scattered geometric blocks. These immense quartzite blocks were designed so as to interlock with each other, creating an architecturally unique temple without precedent in the America's. Puma Punku appears to have been destroyed by an earthquake, perhaps accompanied by a tidal wave overflowing the once extensive Bay. Some of the structures on higher ground were once covered with almost two feet of earth.
Some of the stonework at Puma Punku. The bottom shows intricate blocks uniquely carved, that fit together like building blocks, but each a massive piece of carved and dressed stone
    These stones in Puma Punku are made up of granite, and diorite, and the only stone that is harder than those two, is the diamond. If the people who built this place cut these stones using stone cutting techniques, then they would had to have used diamond tools.
These ancient people had to have been very sophisticated, knowing astronomy, geomancy, and mathematics. However, there are no records of this work. To build a place like Puma Punku, there must have been significant planning, and writing involved, but there is no record of any of this.
    According to archaeologists, Puma Punku is believed to have once contained a great wharf, and a massive four part structure. Yet all that remains today are megalithic ruins from some cataclysmic event in history. A great earthquake? A comet that came too close to the Earth? A worldwide flood? These are all possible causes to the destruction of the once great structure that is now the ruins of Puma. However, based upon the water marks on the cliffs surrounding the site and the water marks in the site itself, archaeologists have been led to believe that at one time Puma Punku was at sea level and is now over 12,000 feet in the air. The demolished structures laying about is sufficient evidence, they tell us, that the sudden rise of the Andes and the sudden rise of the site resulted in the cataclysm.
Puma Punku- Remains of a great wharf for lake Titicaca that once ago lapped upon the shores of Tiahuanaco
    In an interesting 1902 photo of the area before man began to move some of the megaliths about and try to reconstruct the site, stacking some stones as though readying them for placement, and building walls where no walls ever existed, the original stones left standing resemble more a Stonehenge-style site than what is now seen at Tiahuanaco. It looks as though a tremendous force, such as a tidal wave, ran through the once highly structured stone complex, tearing apart buildings and leaving only the multi-ton stanchions and pillars standing.
Image from Hermanos French-American expedition in 1902. Note the vertical standing stones, each weighing many tons
    To support this, one well-known archaeologist who studied the site for several decades claimed that sediment had been deposited over the site to a depth of six feet. Within this overburden, produced by a massive flood of water fossilized human skulls (David Hatcher Childress, The Coneheads of Peru, World Explorer Magazine, Kempton, Il: World Explorers Club, Vol. 3, No. 4) were unearthed together with sea shells and remnants of tropical plants (Tiahuanacu. New York: J.J. Augustin, 1946). At this time “An ancient shoreline was etched into the hills surrounding Tiahuanaco that had been lifted out of the horizontal plane. Additionally there were lime deposits on the surface of the exposed megaliths, indicating that they had been submerged in water.”
    In fact, as one researcher noted,” The climate is dry, the foliage is scanty, the weather is cold, the neighboring people wretchedly poor and few in number. The top soil of the plateau is a two-foot dry deposit, now soft stone.
    Below it stands the lignite of charred tropical plants. Next come a layer of ash deposited amidst rainfall, and then appears an alluvial deposit. In such a place, one would normally expect merely a scanty soil, windswept, on rocky ground.” (Tiahuanaco, The Cradle of American Man, N.Y.: Augustin, 1958).
At the outskirts of the Bolivian village of Viacha, entire hills were excised in this manner. Other examples can be seen near the village of Batallas and Ancocahua, and on the foothills around Pucarani and Machacamarca
    The geologically younger stratum around these patterns is easy to discern in satellite images. Though remnants of ancient farming, known as suka kollus in the local Aymara language (artificially raised fields) can be seen among these geoglyphic features, these are found in the valleys and are easily distinguishable from the majority of glyph patterns around Lake Titicaca.
(See the next post, “Nephi’s Journey Northward – Part IV,” to follow the Nephi party along Lake Titicaca, on through the La Raya Pass, and into Cuzco)

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