Sunday, September 16, 2018

Tiwanaku and Titicaca’s 4000-foot Leap – Part I

According to recently released studies, the Tiahuanaco Seaport of Titicaca Lake, once at sea level has raised about 4000-feet in the Andes within the last 4000 years. Today it lays in a sub-basin in the high Andes mountains and is fed by both melting glacier and rainwater. The lake reached depths of up to 1000 feet and is dotted by 41 islands, many of which are inhabitable, with del Sol the largest and highest point at more than 13,400-feet.
The 12,507-foot high Lake Titicaca in southeastern Peru, bordering on Bolivia, where 40-60 of the Uros Floating Islands are located

The area around the lake is filled with numerous ancient ruins, some dating back to the last few centuries BC, such as Tiahuanaco (Tiwanaku) just south of the lake and 44-miles west of La Paz; the Akapana pyramid (a man-made earthen mound faced with a mixture of large and small stone blocks—the largest weighing 131 metric tons and another 85 metric tons—843-feet wide, 646-feet broad at its base, and 54-feet tall); there is also the Pumapunku complex of stepped platforms faced with megalithic blocks, and walled and open courts; the 200 BC-built large entrance Kalasasaya (Standing Stones) to a football-field-sized sunken court yard with a large stone block weighing 27 metric tons (Alan L. Kolata, The Tiwanaku: Portrait of an Andean Civilization, Wiley-Blackwell, New Jersey, 1993).
    There is also the Kheri Kala and Putuni enclosures, and around much of the area are the famed round Sillustani burial towers. To the east is the very dry highland Altiplano, and to the west is Colca Canyon, one of the deepest canons in the world, and twice as deep as the U.S. Grand Canyon, lies to the southwest of Puno, near Arequipa, the second largest city in Peru.
    It might be of interest to know that the citizens of Tiwanaku lived inside four walls surrounded by a moat. The digging of the moat was used to fill the man-made pyramid of Akapana. It is also of note that archaeologists claim that Tiwanaku went from being a locally religious center and dominant force in the region to being a predatory state around 400 AD, at which time evidence of debauchery and human sacrifice is noted (this date is just after the Lamanite defeat of the Nephites at Cumorah and the height of their civil war, ending all Nephite influence in the Land Southward and the entire Land of Promise).
Top: A partially restored corner of the massive Akapana pyramid at Tiwanaku; Bottom: Main entrance to the temple

Tiwanaku’s monumental architecture is characterized by large stones of exceptional workmanship. In contrast to the masonry style of the later Inca, Tiwanaku stone architecture usually employs rectangular ashlar blocks laid in regular courses, and the monumental structures were frequently fitted with elaborate drainage systems—the ones at Akapana and Puma Punku include conduits composed of red sandstone blocks held together by ternary—copper, arsenic and nickel bronze I-shaped architectural cramps, which were created by cold hammering of ingots, as well as by pouring molten metal into the I-shaped sockets.
Molten metal was poured into the carved connections between large stones to form I-shaped cramps

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. On the summit of the Akapana there was a sunken court with an area 164-feet square serviced by a subterranean drainage system that remains architecturally unexplained.
    Unfortunately, most of the original movable blocks of stone were carted away by the Spanish invaders and used to build the much later structures of La Paz.
Satellite view of Lake Titicaca along the Peruvian-Bolivian border, showing the upper and lower lakes and the Strait of Tiquina that connects them

Lake Titicaca, which locally goes by several names, since the southeast quarter of the lake is separate from the main body (connected only by the Strait of Tiquina). Thus, the Bolivians call it Lago Huinaymarca and the larger part Lago Chucuito, while in Peru, these smaller and larger parts are referred to as Lago Peque–o and Lago Grande, respectively.
    A well believed fallacy is that these ruins were built by the Inca, an idea fostered by misguided scholars; however, it has been well established that the city was already in ruins when the first Incas came upon the scene. In 1540 the Spanish chronicler, Pedro Cieza de León, visited the area and his description of the statues and monoliths compares very closely to what we see today.
    Also, according to archaeologists, at one time this lake was much larger in the recent past, and is now about 650-feet lower than its maximum extent, falling 32-inches in just the past ten years. In fact, the ruins of Tiwanaku today are 800-feet above the level of the lake.
    Sitting astride the Peruvian-Bolivian border, the land to the south around the lake is filled with great salt beds, and those on the Bolivian side are now being mined for lithium. The hills around the Lake are terraced to the top, reflecting the traditional agriculture of the pre-Inca past, where quinoa, potatoes and secondary vegetable were grown; however, only about ten percent of these vast terraces are under cultivation today.
The Uros people today living on man-made reed islands in the midst of Lake Titicaca, forced there for defense in ages past; Top” A small island of about ten houses; Bottom: Larger island with 20 to 40 homes

In the ancient past, a people lived about the lake, referred to today as the Uru or Uros, who lived in one of the oldest settlements in the Americas, but were forced onto the lake for defense against invaders in the early 1400s, building a floating island of living totora reeds that grow around the lake, with which they also make their homes, furniture and canoe-like boats on the world’s highest navigable lake.
    Today, in the shadow of the Andes, their descendants still live in the same manners as their ancestors, now making their living from fishing and selling their reed handicrafts to tourists. Their islands, which are usually moored to the bottom of the lake, can be moved if necessary, their four to eight-feet thick islands, continually deteriorate along the bottom and have to be constantly added to on top, creating a solid to spongy-like surface.
Top: Totora reeds growing around the edges of the lake before being cut and packed into an island base; Bottom: The single and double reed boats of the Uros, made of totora reeds

The floating reed platforms, or islands, are made by cutting 32-feet square block of totora root bed, which are lashed together to form a platform 5 to 6½ feet deep. These are overlaid by cross hatched cutting of fresh reeds, with new cuttings added as needed. Even the dock at Puno is so-constructed, as well as their boats, which are similar to canoes with a sweeping prow ending in the shape of an animal head—with some boats being a single boat and others with two boats built side-by-side and a small platform between.
    Though there are several islands, or platforms, the main one, which is about 2 to 2½ miles from Puno on the western shore in Peru at the edge of the extensive totora reed fields, has a watchtower built on top as lookout where warnings were shouted in the past when enemy was spotted on the lake.
The Strait of Tiquina between the Upper and Lower basins of Lake Titicaca

The lake is composed of two nearly separate sub-basins that are connected by the Strait of Tiquina which is 2,620 feet across (about ½ a mile) at the narrowest point. The larger sub-basin, Lago Grande (“large lake,” also called Lago Chucuito) has a mean depth of 443 feet and a maximum depth of 932 feet. The smaller sub-basin, Winaymarka (also called Lago Pequeno, "little lake") has a mean depth of 30 feet and a maximum depth of 131 feet. The overall average depth of the lake is 351 feet.
(See the next post, “Tiwanaku and Titicaca’s 4000-foot Leap – Part II,” for more on the lake that sits astride the Peruvian-Bolivian border and located just north of the ancient city of Tiwanaku and once sat along the sea 12,500-feet below its present elevation)

1 comment:

  1. Lake Titicaca has a river that leaves it called the Desaguadero River, This river goes to an what used to be a "dead sea" type lake: Lake Poopó

    I know of two other places on earth where a similar situation exists.

    One is in Palestine where the Sea of Galilee has the Jordan river that goes to the Dead Sea.

    Another is in Utah where from Utah Lake their Jordan river goes to the Great Salt Lake.