Nestled in the remains of the ancient city of Tiahuanaco, Bolivia, is the megalithic ruins site called Puma Punku. Archeologists believe the site to be the cradle of civilization in South America–predating the Myans.
Pumapunku or Puma Punku (Aymara and Quechua puma cougar, puma, punku door, Hispanicized Puma Puncu) is part of a large temple complex or monument group that is part of the Tiwanaku Site near Tiwanaku, in western Bolivia. It is believed to date to 536AD and later.
Tiwanaku is significant in Inca traditions because it is believed to be the site where the world was created. In Aymara, Puma Punku’s name means “The Door of the Puma”. The Pumapunku complex consists of an unwalled western court, a central unwalled esplanade, a terraced platform mound that is faced with stone, and a walled eastern court.
Tiwanaku is in Bolivia, up in the Titicaca Basin, about 10 kilometers away from the great Lake Titicaca. The Titicaca Basin is high; 3,800 meters (12,500 feet) above sea level. Half is in Peru and half is in Bolivia, and right on the border sits Lake Titicaca. It’s in a vast region of the Andes Mountains called the Altiplano, or “high plain”, the largest such plain outside of the Himalayas. The Tiwanaku Culture predated the Inca, and their history is known largely from archaeology, since they had no written language that we know of. The earliest evidence of habitation dates from around 400 BC, but it wasn’t until about 500 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. Farming was done on raised fields with irrigation systems in between them. Decades of drought struck around 1000 AD, and the city of Tiwanaku was abandoned, and its people and culture dissolved into the surrounding mountains. Five centuries later, the Inca Culture developed.
Puma Punku in Bolivia is one of the world’s most mysterious ancient sites. This remains true for both academic archaeologists and historians as well as rogue historians who investigate the hypothesis of advanced prehistoric civilizations or ancient assistance from extraterrestrials. Puma Punku covers a large part of the massive ancient city of Tiwanaku and it is located just southeast of Lake Titicaca in the Andes. The city predates Inca presence in that part of South America.
The mystery lies in the precision and complexity of the structures that pervade the ruin. The finely cut doorways and remaining stone blocks bear no chisel marks and many interlock with very fine precision.
Perhaps the biggest mystery involving Puma Punku is, how did ancient mankind manage to transport these huge blocks of stone from quarries within 10 to 100 km. How did they manage to achieve this type of precision cuts and how did they place the blocks in such a perfect manner. Engineers and constructors around the world today cannot answer nor replicate these achievements done by ancient mankind thousands of years ago.
Archaeologists cannot come to a conclusion and answer how were these amazing blocks of stone transported. Some of them believe that it was accomplished by the large labor force of ancient Tiwanaku. Several theories have been proposed as to how this labor force transported the stones from the quarries to Puma Punku but these theories remain speculative. It is believed that the builders of Puma Punku used llama skin ropes and ramps and inclined planes to move these incredible blocks to the site. But this explanation is not accepted widely, at least in our opinion it takes more than llama skin rope and ramps to move stones of block that weigh over 100 metric tons through distances of 10 – 100 kilometers.
So within the context of Tiwanaku, Pumapunku does not leap out as extraordinary. However it does differ from the other structures at Tiwanaku, in that many of the blocks are shaped into highly complex geometries. There is a row of H-shaped blocks, for example, that have approximately 80 faces on them; and all match each other with great precision. Pumapunku’s stones suggest prefabrication, which is not found at the other Tiwanaku sites. In addition, some of the stones were held together with copper fasteners, some of which were cold hammered into shape, and others that were poured into place molten.
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. We don’t have any record that such technology was known to pre-Incan cultures, but 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 paranormalists, modern geologists are, in fact, quite able to discern rock from concrete. Petrographic and chemical analyses are relatively trivial to carry out, and even allowed us to determine exactly where the rocks were quarried. Pumapunku’s large blocks are a common red sandstone that was quarried about 10 kilometers 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, about 90 kilometers away. These smaller stones may have been brought across the lake by reed boat, then dragged overland the remaining 10 kilometers.
In assembling the walls of Pumapunku, each stone was finely cut to interlock with the surrounding stones. The blocks were fit together like a puzzle, forming load-bearing joints without the use of mortar. One common engineering technique involves cutting the top of the lower stone at a certain angle, and 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. Many of the joints are so precise that not even a razor blade will fit between the stones. 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.
However, the blocks do not have the same dimensions, although they are close. The blocks were so precisely cut as to suggest the possibility of prefabrication and mass production, technologies far in advance of the Tiwanaku’s Inca successors hundreds of years later. Some of the stones are in an unfinished state, showing some of the techniques used to shape them. 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.
Ancient Engineers at Puma Punku and Tiwanaku should be considered masterminds. Their knowledge in mathematics, geometry and geology is something that most of today’s engineers lack. These Ancient Engineers were truly great, they developed complex civic infrastructure, they invented waterproof sewage lines, hydraulic mechanisms and functional irrigation systems.