Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Were There Other Cities Vacated by the Nephites at the Time Mosiah I Left the Land and City of Nephi – Part IX

Continued from the previous post, regarding the ancient settlements that were built by early Peruvians along the ancient road that ran from Cuzco to Lake Titicaca, and continuing with the south lake area and the ancient site of Tiwanaku and Puma Punku (Pumapunku).
Blocks of stone scattered about in the ruins of Tiwanaku where some of the modern-day renovation is taking place

The current belief by anthropologists and archaeologists is that the Tiwanaku culture had no writing system and also that the invention of the wheel was likely unknown to them. Adjacent to and part of the larger  Tiwanaku is the site of the stone structure called Pumapunku, which translates to “Doorway of the Puma,” and is best known for its massive stones and the extraordinary precision of their cutting and placement.
    Like Sacsayhuaman above Cuzco, Pumapunku is one of those ancient ites where the stones are so closely fitted that a knife blade cannot be inserted between them. According to archaeologists, the earliest evidence of habitation dates from around 400 BC, but it wasn't until about the first or second century AD that the Tiwanaku Culture truly developed. At its peak, 400,000 people lived in and around the Tiwanaku site, centering around Pumapunku and other important structures. Trade and farming flourished. Sometime in the first millennia AD, the city of Tiwanaku was abandoned, and its people and culture dissolved into the surrounding mountains and lost to history.
    The architectural achievements seen at Pumapunku, where the quays, docks and harbor structures are located, are striking in light of the presumed level of technological capability behind its construction. Due to the monumental proportions of the stones, the method by which they were transported to the site has been a topic of interest since the temple’s discovery.
    Pumapunku, truly startles the imagination. It seems to be the remains of a great wharf and a massive, four-part, now collapsed building. One of the construction blocks from which the pier was fashioned weighs an estimated 440 tons (equal to nearly 600 full-size cars) and several other blocks lying about are between 100 and 150 tons.  The quarry for these giant blocks was on the shore of Titicaca, some ten miles away. The main difference of Pumapunku from Tiwanaku, is in the stone blocks which are shaped into highly complex geometries.
Some of the “H”-shaped blocks strewn about in the ruins scattered along the plains on the edge of Tiwanaku

There are rows of H-shaped blocks, for example, that have approximately 80 faces on them; and all match each other with great precision. In assembling the walls of Pumapunku, each stone was finely cut to interlock with the surrounding stones and the blocks fit together like a puzzle, forming load-bearing joints without the use of mortar. In some cases, the top of the lower stone was cut at a specific angle, then placing another stone on top of it which was cut at the same angle—the precision with which these angles have been utilized to create flush joints is indicative of a highly sophisticated knowledge of stone-cutting and a thorough understanding of descriptive geometry. Much of the masonry is characterized by accurately cut rectilinear blocks of such uniformity that they could be interchanged for one another while maintaining a level surface and even joints. Many of the joints are so precise that not even a razor blade will fit between the stones—creating a technology far in advance of the Inca who came centuries later.
    It is also of interest that some of the stones are in an unfinished state, the steps and techniques used to shape them observable. They were initially pounded by stone hammers—which can still be found in numbers on local andesite quarries—creating depressions, and then slowly ground and polished with flat stones and sand. In addition, some of the stones were held together with copper fasteners, some of which were cold hammered into shape, and others were poured into place molten.
Top: Rows upon rows of precut, identical stones stand ready to be assembled, left to remain on the plains when the Tiwanaku disappeared in the first millennia AD; Bottom: These stones were connected by carved connection recesses filled with copper or other metal

Due to the complexity and regularity of many of Pumapunku's stone forms, a number of authors have suggested that they're not stones at all, but rather concrete that was cast into forms; however, we have no knowledge that such technology was known to the ancient Pervian cultures (of course that doesn't prove it wasn't). What can be proven, and proven quite easily, is that there is no concrete at Pumapunku or anywhere else in Tiwanaku. Contrary to the suppositions of such claims, modern geologists are fully capable of knowing rock from concrete. Petrographic and chemical analyses are relatively trivial to carry out, and even allows us to determine exactly where the rocks were quarried—Pumapunku's large blocks are a common red sandstone that was quarried about five miles away. Many of the smaller stones, including the most ornamental and some of the facing stones, are of igneous andesite and came from a quarry on the shore of Lake Titicaca 56 miles away. These smaller stones may have been brought across the lake by reed boat, then dragged overland the remaining few miles.
    The stones at Tiwanaku are of mammoth proportion, with the largest 25½ feet long, 17 feet wide and 3½  feet thick, and weighing 144 tons. Due to their size, the method by which they were transported to Pumapunku has been another topic of interest since their discovery. Chemical analysis reveals the red sandstone blocks were transported up a steep incline from a quarry near the lake and the smaller andesite blocks that were used for stone facing and carvings came from quarries within the Copacabana Peninsula. Today, the complex is in complete ruins today with huge blocks of granite lying around on top of each other, as the site appears to have been destroyed by an earthquake, possibly accompanied by a tidal wave.
    There are those who claim Tiwanaku and particularly Punapunku were not a port city in the past, merely because the site is too far from Lake Titicaca. They also claim there is no evidence that Titicaca was large enough to encompass the site five miles south, mainly because that land slopes to the south and for a lake to have reached there it would have encompassed the settlement. While all that may be true, their claims do not address the fact that the entire area was once at a lower level as many other evidences suggest, such as the abundant corn fields that are now at a height where corn will not grow.
Laguna Colorada on the southern Altiplano is a very shallow salt lake and tinted blood red due to a variety of algae which thrive in its salt water; the algae in turn draws the innumerable flamingos

In addition, where did the over-abundance of salt water in the lake come from. Initially it was so saline that when it overflowed into the basin to the south, enormous salt flats resulted, specifically the Salar de Uyuni, also called the Tahua Salt Flats, which are larger than the Bonneville Salt Flats in the Salt Lake area.
    These salt flats spread over a gigantic space of the dried up Lake Minchin, or the once overflowing area now known as Lake Titicaca, and is the largest salt plain in the world, even larger than the Bonneville Salt Flats in the Salt Lake City area. Uyuni has billions of tons of salt breaking up in nature’s arrangements of hexagonal patterns, and giving the plains create illusions of infinite mirrors during the rainy season of January to March, when tourist flock there.
    In fact, the entire area south of Titicaca, and particularly south of Poopó, is covered with salt flats, large pockets of standing saline water, and numerous lakes, including the visually striking Red Lagoon or Laguna Colorada, a shallow salt lake in the south of the Altiplano. The red color of this shallow lake is caused by the red sediments and algae in the area and displays great contrast to the white borax islands all around, projected from the red lagoon. On the lagoon are hundreds of flamingos as well as rows of llamas on the banks. Anciently, this entire area was covered by a saltwater lake called Lake Minchon.
The area of the once Lake Minchon, or more importantly, the tableland or high plains of the southern Altiplano that is now covered with enormous salares or salt flat deposits and very shallow saline lakes

One might wonder how salt water lakes formed over twelve thousand feet above the sea level—and not just one, but dozens of areas atop the Altiplano are so anciently described. They obviously did not form from glacial melt, which is what scientists claim formed these lakes atop the Altiplano. Glaciers are not salt based, or the Great Lakes in the U.S. would be salt water as well. It might also be note that while Titicaca is the highest deep lake in the world, all the other bodies of water, numerous lakes, and water sources south of there are very shallow.
    Would all of this have happened under normal circumstances or in the evolutionary cycle of the Earth’s development? No, of course not. In fact, we have no evidence of anything like this ever happening anywhere else in the world. So one can understand the natural resistance to such claims as South America rising out of the sea, the Andes shooting up some twelve to twenty thousand feet into the air, and an entire lake lifting up thousands of feet in a very short time. However, there is one source that could bring such an event about, and we have both Nephi’s Vision, Samuel the Lamanite’s prophecy, and the disciple Nephi’s record of the events that brought this about. Either one accepts the scriptural record, or one does not—but it does not change the fact of the Lord carrying out this prophesy at the time of the crucifixion as both foretold and record at the time. And in South America, we can see the results of this work.
(See the next post, “Were There Other Cities Vacated by the Nephites at the Time Mosiah I Left the Land and City of Nephi – Part X, regarding the continuation of the ancient settlements and terrain south of Lake Titicaca)

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