Tuesday, July 21, 2009

La Paz, Day 4: Tiwanaku

The next morning, Kelly´s mom took me to Tiwanaku to see the ancient ruins of the Tiwanaku people. Tiwanaku dates back to about 1500 BCE and was the capital city of the Tiwanaku Empire, considered one of the most important pre-Incan Empires. Not much is known of the people because they had no written language, but their pottery, sculptures, and architecture still being excavated today tell some of their story.

I found the complexity of the structures truly astounding. Every rock was perfectly cut to fit together without any mortar or cement. The city also has an elaborate drainage and water system. Also incredible was the fact that the majority of the monolithic stones, some weighing more than 132 tons, were transported over 40km to the site! Legend has it that when the Spanish first arrived and asked how the town was built, the Aymarans attributed the construction to one of their God´s. Any visitor can easily see why the people would believe only a god could build such structures.

Tiwanaku is still used by modern Aymaran people for religious rituals. It is the main site for the Aymaran New Year (see post below) to celebrate the winter solstice. The ¨Gateway of the Sun¨is located in Tiwanaku and forms a arch that the sun only passes through once a year, at the precise moment when the sun first rises on the day of the winter solstice.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the great commentary! What a weekend you had!