Tiahuanaco Ruins (World Heritage)
Only a few remnants remind of the great history of the city, in which around 20,000 people lived in its heyday. From 500 to 900 Tiahuanaco was the capital and religious center of the Tiahuanaco culture, a powerful pre-Columbian empire in the southern Andes. The traces of the settlement go back to 1500 BC. BC back.
Tiahuanaco Ruins: Facts
|Official title:||Pre-Columbian ruins at Tiahuanaco|
|Cultural monument:||Spiritual and political center of the Tiahuanako culture on a high plateau in western Bolivia; former capital of a powerful pre-Hispanic empire over the southern Andes and beyond; Peak of its power between 500 and 900|
|Location:||Tiahuanako, 50 km north of La Paz|
|Meaning:||Exceptional example of architecture and art of the Tiahuanako culture in the Andean region|
Mute witnesses to an ancient culture
Long before the Incas, the highly developed culture of the Tiahuanaco was at home on the barren plateau on the southeastern shore of Lake Titicaca. The people of Tiahuanaco invented elaborate irrigation systems in order to always have enough food at an altitude of 3800 meters, and were the only American culture to come up with the idea of combining stone sculptures with bronze brackets. In its heyday, the city ruled over an empire that stretched from what is now Bolivia to Peru, the northeastern part of Argentina and northern Chile. Because of its great cultural and spiritual importance, the remaining ruins were included in the UNESCO list of the world cultural heritage.
Since the Tiahuanaco left no written evidence, little is known about their culture today. Archaeologists are still trying to decipher the secrets of the past at the most important archaeological site in Bolivia as featured on historyaah. It is known today that Tiahuanaco was initially a simple settlement whose residents lived from growing potatoes and breeding llamas. But in the following centuries the people gained increasing importance and influence, so that by the year 400 they already held a dominant position in the area around Lake Titicaca. An important basis for the rise and stability of this empire were the so-called sukakullos: high fields that were supplied by a sophisticated irrigation system.
During the central heyday of the Tiahuanaco culture between 500 and 950 AD, the city extended over an area of almost 5 square kilometers, plus about 80 square kilometers of agricultural land. The remains visible today formed the religious center of the city with stone buildings made of gray basalt and red sandstone. The stones, weighing up to 130 tons, were transported there from quarries miles away. How the residents of Tiahuanaco managed this remains a mystery to this day. There were numerous mud brick residential buildings around the religious center, but these are no longer preserved today. What happened around the year 1000 is not known, but one thing is certain: within 50 years the city was abandoned very quickly, possibly because a decade-long drought caused food shortages. After the arrival of the Spaniards, the ruins were looted and destroyed. People in the region used the stones to build their own homes, and archaeologists smuggled artifacts abroad.
At 16.50 meters, the Akapana pyramid is the highest point on the complex. It is not yet clear whether the step pyramid was used as a fortification, sacrificial site or temple. It has a total of seven platforms: the lower four floors symbolize the four elements, the upper the three world levels. A condor stands for the sky and the sun, a puma for the earth and a snake for the underworld.
The actual religious center of Tiahuanaco was the Kalasasaya temple complex, a 120 by 130 meter area enclosed by a stone wall. Since it is laid out in an east-west direction, it was probably used to worship the sun. There are eleven stone pillars in the Kalasasaya, with the help of which summer and winter solstices can be precisely determined. The most important cultural monument in the complex – probably even the most important monument in the Andes – is the Sun Gate (Puerta del Sol). It was created from a single huge, gray block of andesite and is 3.84 meters wide, 2.73 meters high, and about 50 centimeters thick. A bas-relief on the gate shows the creator god, who carries two sceptres with condor heads and snakes – symbols for heaven and the underworld. Other important sites are the Moon Gate (Puerta de la Luna), the Palace of the Sarcophagi (Putuni) and the Templete Semisubterráneo, a five-meter-deep plaza, which is decorated with 175 stone heads and in the center of which there are three important steles. A little outside the complex is the temple pyramid Puma Punku, also called Pumator. It consists of huge blocks of stone that are connected to one another by metal brackets.