a story these people could tell? The faces were carved about 1500 years
ago. Some have stood on the windswept plain, exposed to the elements. Others were
found buried under several metres of mud.
there is little doubt that Tiwanaku was a major ceremonial centre and focal point
of a culture that spread across much of the region. The ancient people built a
pyramid of crude stones known as the Akapana. That structure dominates
the bottom half of this aerial photo. When first recorded the pyramid was largely
covered with earth. After several decades of excavation some of the walls have
been uncovered and treasure hunters opened a depression in the top. This was built
originally to open towards the east. The dark line across the lower part of the
picture is the railway line from a lakeside port to La Paz, the Bolivian capital.
The rectangular outline just 'above and to the left ' of the Akapana is
a terreplein. known as the Kalasasaya. The lighter patch with an
indistinct outline 'above' the Akapana is where an excavated semi-subterranean
'temple' has been discovered. Other features are visible but most of the 'patches'
are fields. The upper part of the picture is crossed by the road from the
the village of Tiwanaku leading eastwards to La Paz. (taken from 'Pathways
to the Gods' by Tony Morrison 1978).
out of the picture to the bottom left is the site of the Pumapunku. This is another
'temple area' with many finely cut stones some weighing over 100 tonnes. Its position
to the south of the Akapana may have been important because it gave a good view
to a sacred mountain far to the east. Of course there is no certainty that this
was the reason as the ancient builders left no written records. All the legends
have been handed down through the generations.
the theme of an immense flood dominates. The story
was first noted by a Spaniard in the 17th century "they remembered that
the sea began to rise and its waters filled the valleys and covered all the hills
except for one place. All the animals were there and one Indian and his llama.
After five days the water level began to fall and the world began again. All the
people living there today are descended from the survivors."
it sounds rather Biblical to you, rest assured it will not be the first time it's
been noticed. There are even signs of ancient beaches as far as 60m above the
present level of Lake Titicaca and Tiwanaku itself was covered with soil until
a reconstruction was begun in the 1960s.
what happened there? Was there a gigantic flood? -Why do some of the
ancient gods have African features? -Could the Atlantis myth have started in this
once remote place? The story began to be pieced together in the early 1900's by
Arturo Posnansky a German who made his home in Bolivia.
Posnansky devoted much of his life to the study of Tiwanaku, its culture and the
people who lived around it. Posnansky believed he had evidence that Tiwanaku was,
in his words, 'The Cradle of American Man'.
opened the way for more ideas - and remember that these came from the 1930's and
40's before the age of modern scientific exploration of space. One fascinating
suggestion began with a Viennese cosmologist Hans Hoerbiger (1860- 1931) who suggested
that our Planet Earth had at some time been passed-close-by or even 'captured'
another satellite in its gravitational influence. Such a satellite would have
affected the world's tides considerably by forming a 'girdle' of rising water.
The sea would have risen hugely and vast areas would have been inundated. This
effect would have been noticed around the world thus accounting for the universally
known deluge stories.
of the followers of Hoerbiger's work was Hans Bellamy who wrote extensively on
the subject in the 1950's and made the link between the satellite 'girdle tide'
theory and Tiwanaku. Much of his rationale was founded on his interpretation of
the carvings on the face of the 'Sun Gate'. This ten tonne slab of beautifully
carved Andesite, a local rock, now stands in the northwestern corner of the Kalasasaya.
This may not be its original position and certainly, when the first photographs
were taken in the late 1800's, the arch was broken.
Sun Gate of Tiwanaku
frieze of carved 'Winged Figures' covers the lower part of the gate and is arranged
around a central image of what is often called 'T'he Weeping God'. This god is
believed to be the 'Creator', variously called Thunupa or Viracocha, sometimes
Ticci Viracocha. The 'Viracocha' version of the name probably arrived with Inka
mythology when they annexed the area in the 14th century AD. Modern researchers
have many suggestions for the meaning and not all agree.
it is the frieze that attracted the attention of Hans Bellamy and he put forward
the theory that it was a unique calendar. He was not the first to suggest a calendar
theory but his intepretation was extraordinary. He concluded that the Tiwanaku
year was only 290 days.
Bellamy also suggested that the frieze symbols also refer to the phases and eclipses
of a satellite, larger than the moon that once circled the earth, So back to girdle
tides - 'the deluge' and the creation myths of the ancient Tiwanakans. Not to
mention the underlying idea that somehow Atlantis could not be far away.
output of ideas, theories and evidence has never been surpassed. Indeed it has
been largely overlooked in recent years but it is there for anyone to read.
He wrote 'Built Before The Flood' 1953 , ' and with Peter
Allan 'The Calendar of Tiahuanacu' 1956 which contains many detailed
drawings of the frieze, and 'The Great Idol Of Tiahanacu' 1959. Earlier
Bellamy wrote 'The Atlantis Myth' for which The Times of London Literary
Supplement said 'Mr Bellamy makes a speciality of unriddling myths....' All
were published by the British publishers Faber and Faber.
in the 1960s Tony Morrison, then a camerman-director and Mark Howell
a writer were producing documentary films for the BBC. Mark's account of the
journeys made with a colleague Allan Reditt who later became a Reuters correspondent,
can be found in 'Journey Through A Forgotten Empire', 1964, published
by Geoffrey Bles, London. This book contains a resumé of Hans Bellamy's
Tiahuanacu Calendar interpretation. Tony and Mark made several journeys to Bolivia
together and among television topics they considered was the 'Mystery of Atlantis'.
They prepared a dossier
that has remained closed for thirty years. Among the people who were interviewed
were Alicia Posnansky, wife of Arturo Posnansky, Brian Fawcett, the younger son
of the famous British army colonel who disappeared in the 1920's when searching
for ancient cities in Brazil. Colonel Fawcett, like others at the time felt that
there was truth behind the Atlantis myth. (His explorations began in Bolivia)
And finally, Tony and Mark interviewed Egerton Sykes whose passion for the 'unknown'
has become legendary. Part Two of 'THE BOLIVIAN ATLANTIS' will look at
the contents of this previously unpublished dossier and at evidence amassed by
of the most recent searches took explorer Colonel John Blashford-Snell
from Lake Titicaca southwards via the River Desaguadero to Lake Poopo. His discoveries
and conclusion are described in his book 'Kota Mama'. The southern lake
which was once part of a far larger body of water has dried considerably in recent
years but around the edges Aymara Native Americans still live, largely in their
traditional way. They
are not the only survivors from past times and in this arid and often bleak part
of the Andes Mountains some legends live on.
Atlantis exist below the waters of this shallow Bolivian Lake and what will be
found there? Treturn to our index