Was Pumapunku Built by Ancient Astronauts?

Pumapunku ruins
Pumapunku ruins
Ruins at Pumapunku
Ruins at Pumapunku
Andesite blocks at Pumapunku
Andesite blocks at Pumapunku
Pumapunku building block with precision-drilled groove(6 mm wide)and holes within
Pumapunku building block with precision-drilled groove(6 mm wide)and holes within
Indentations for bronze cramps used at Pumapunku
Indentations for bronze cramps used at Pumapunku
Site map of Tiwanaku
Site map of Tiwanaku
The Gateway of the Sun at Tiwanaku
The Gateway of the Sun at Tiwanaku
Backside of the Gateway of the Sun
Backside of the Gateway of the Sun
Semi-subterranean temple at Tiwanaku
Semi-subterranean temple at Tiwanaku
View from the semi-subterranean temple
View from the semi-subterranean temple
Tenon head in the semi-subterranean temple at Tiwanaku
Tenon head in the semi-subterranean temple at Tiwanaku
Entrace to the Kalasasaya temple
Entrace to the Kalasasaya temple
Walls around Kalasasaya temple
Walls around Kalasasaya temple
Map of the area
Map of the area
Chavin de Huantar
Chavin de Huantar
Sacsayhuaman
Sacsayhuaman

Pumapunku boggles the mind, but is it really as old as some people think?

 

Pumapunku, a temple at the ancient Bolivian site of Tiwanaku (also known as Tiahuanaco) is a wondrous place that definitely evokes questions of all sorts. Stones blocks, some of which weighing as much as 130 tons, were used to construct the temple, and no mortar was used to join these megaliths, which had to be carried, pushed or dragged from a quarry some 20 miles away near Lake Titicaca.

The artistry and engineering at Pumapunku, essentially that of what is known as the Tiwanaku culture, also rivals that of any other ruins in South America, as well as some of the most famous and impressive Old World ruins found in places such as Egypt, Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley in Pakistan.

None of these facts are in dispute, but the age of Pumapunku and the encompassing city of Tiwanaku certainly is, as well as the possibility that ancient astronauts helped build these marvelous structures.

Beginning in the early 1900s and then later in 1930s, some astronomers, based on apparent astronomical alignments of Pumapunku, concluded that it was constructed as long ago as 17,000 years ago. However, since that time no physical evidence has been found at the site that substantiates such great antiquity. Please keep in mind that most scientists believe that humans – either crossing a land bridge over what is now the Bering Sea or perhaps moving over the ice sheet covering the North Atlantic - didn’t come to the Americas until about 13,000 to 15,000 years ago. Clearly somebody is wrong.

The Atlas of Ancient America by Michael Coe, Dean Snow and Elizabeth Benson, lists the construction of Tiwanaku at about 1500 B.C.E (or about 3,500 years ago). Wikipedia also shows this date for the founding of Tiwanaku and a date of 200 B.C.E. for the temple complex known as Pumapunku. It seems probable that most reputable, scientific texts also show this approximate date.

Moreover, some of the artistic motifs and architectural techniques used at Tiwanaku also show the influence of other contemporaneous cultures such as that of the Chavín and Wari of nearby Peru, though these cultures aren’t near as old as Tiwanaku, coming into existence around 900 B.C.E for the Chavín and 500 C.E for the Wari. This influence would not be apparent if Tiwanaku had been built more than 14,000 years before these cultures came into existence!

It appears those astronomers added a zero to the date for the building of Tiwanaku! Why would they do such a thing? Did they have in mind the production of a future television show?

These days, some people still insist that Tiwanaku and Pumapunku are many thousands of years older than they really are. The History Channel’s program, Ancient Aliens, expressed the viewpoint of authors such as Erich von Daniken who think ancient astronauts either built Tiwanaku or at least helped build it. Their logic is that if the place is “really” old, and we don’t quite know how it was constructed, then aliens must be responsible! Other scholars such as Graham Hancock (author of the impressive book, Fingerprints of the Gods, but not shown on the program) think a lost super race of humans, perhaps the Atlanteans, built or helped build most – if not all – the great monuments of antiquity, including, of course, Tiwanaku and Pumapunku.

Did the Tiwanaku people need ancient astronauts?

Tiwanaku was built on the Altiplano of Bolivia, a high, arid plateau southeast of Lake Titicaca. The people of Tiwanaku took advantage of the abundant resources in the area, using a technique known as the “flooded-raised field,” utilizing ditches and canals that would soak up solar radiation by day and thereby protect crops such as potatoes and yams from freezing during the frosty nights at high altitude. In general, these people mastered the natural resources of the area, presaging the spectacular feats of the Inca culture that arose in the 1200s.

Interestingly, the city of Tiwanaku may have been built as a cultural or ceremonial center, housing perhaps 400,000 people at its height, though over a million people could have lived in the area at one time. The city may have been similar to Chavín de Huántar in Peru, where people came to watch and engage in rituals, perhaps of a curative nature, utilizing the hallucinatory drug peyote derived from the San Pedro cactus. Traces of the drug have been found in the hair of mummies discovered in and around Tiwanaku.

Around 400 C.E., Tiwanaku expanded its hegemony to neighboring states, but since Tiwanaku was a religious center, force rarely had to be applied to subjugate others, who usually agreed to pay tribute to the elites of Tiwanaku. At times, however, human sacrifice was practiced at the temples of Tiwanaku, a violent rite practiced by many cultures in the area, particularly the Moche (or Mochica) in Peru.

Along the way, Tiwanaku developed an architectural style that utilized the use of large, precisely cut stone blocks set in place without the use of mortar, though bronze cramps were often used to join some elements, particularly at Pumapunku. Astonishingly, some stone blocks at Tiwanaku weight over 400 tons! Of course, this use of mortarless masonry is not unique to the Tiwanaku culture, as anyone can attest who has seen the ruins of Inca monuments, buildings and walls, particularly those at Sacsayhuamán.

Much attention has also been paid to the modular building blocks used at Pumapunku. Comprised of very hard rock such as granite or diorite, many show precision-drilled grooves (6 mm wide) and small, deep holes, which, some people think must have been incised with the use of diamond-tipped drills, almost certainly unavailable at the time Pumapunku was built. On a related note, throughout the Americas, tiny beads have been found with very narrow, seemingly drilled holes, and nobody knows how this was done, though few people have suggested they were put there by extraterrestrials!

Keep in mind, the people of Tiwanaku did all this without a written language and without the advent of the wheel, which didn’t exist until Europeans arrived in the early 1500s.

Then about 950 C.E. the climate in the area changed dramatically, reducing rainfall and, like many cultures in antiquity, Tiwanaku was slowly abandoned to the elements, until the Inca arrived in the 1400s and revived the culture in the area, but not Tiwanaku, which lay in ruins when the Conquistadors arrived in the 1500s, looting and destroying as they usually did. Of course, the numerous earthquakes in the area must have taken their toll on the site as well.

So, does it sound like the people of ancient Tiwanaku needed any help from ancient astronauts? In fact, these people were just as smart, capable and organized as we are; their science and technology simply wasn’t at the same advanced level. Nevertheless, their structures certainly lasted a long, long time, didn’t they? Perhaps we ought to return to making buildings of mortarless stone. Simply stated, the Egyptians, Inca and people of Tiwanaku certainly knew what they were doing and didn’t need help from anyone or anything.

As for that program, Ancient Aliens, I watched at least parts of it three times, even though its science is skewed somewhat. The truth is, if I could possibly pull it off, I’d inject archaeology/ancient history into my veins on a daily basis!

Please leave a comment.

Click on the link below for lots of information regarding Pumapunku:

http://www.world-mysteries.com/mpl_6.htm

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Comments 25 comments

lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 7 years ago from Alberta and Florida

Fascinating article, raised many questions. I've heard the same theories over Stonehenge, the architecture of ancient Egypt, the Mayan edifices, and it is tempting to think of assistance descending from the heavens (and not of the divine sort.) I lean more to the theory the many great civilizations have risen and fallen over the eons, their great knowledge lost to us. We are such a self-involved culture that likes to think of progress as a straight line leading directly to us, but I think it more likely that birth, growth and development and death apply as much to societies as individuals. Thank you for this extremely intriguing article.


Kosmo profile image

Kosmo 7 years ago from California Author

Thanks for the compliment, Immartin, humans have been very impressive for a long time. Later!


Bob 7 years ago

I think the most interesting thing not mentioned in this article is that the stones at the puma punka ruins are granite and diorite. Which means they would have had to use diamond tools and if not then we have no idea how they cut the stones with such accuracy


Kosmo profile image

Kosmo 7 years ago from California Author

Okay, Bob, I added a paragraph addressing the issue of whether diamond-tipped drills were used during the construction of Pumapunku. Later!


Matt 6 years ago

Good article, but I think it is very presumptuous of you to imply that they did not need help from anyone or anything. I don't know how they did it, but I find it fascinating that it would be hard for us today to construct such buildings. In my opinion the scientific way is to consider all possibilities until it can be proven how they did it. "Ancient astronaut theory" is one such theory, and would it be really that bad if we considered it as a possibility.


MoonLadi 6 years ago

I support the idea that another race with superior technology built these temples (we assumed they temples). Maybe these places are justs museums like ours nowadays with statues and huge monuments that represent nothing but has artistic value to us in this generation only. There is no denial that some type of high technology was used to cut the diorites because with our "modern" technology we can't replicate it.

Also, the Nazca Lines and drawings...it appears to mean as random drawings that children or bored people would doodled on sand and mud to pass time. Hey, maybe the alien visitors were bored and used their lazer technology to doodle pictures of animals and lines on the plateaus??? Or Maybe some rebel alien teenagers did this???

So I believe that if it is truly done by people on the ground then why would they draw such fine lines or such large pictures that they cannot appreciate from the view above??? In order to appreciate these drawings one must have to view it from the sky.

Just another perspective to ponder.


Austinstar profile image

Austinstar 6 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

I have always wanted to get to S. America to see Sacsayhuaman and Tiahuanaco. Of course, I would include Macchu Pichu.

I've seen many of the Mayan and Aztec ruins and I have to tell you that looking around at all of them living in grass homes now, I can't imagine that the same indigeneous people built all of the stone edifices. Why would they stop? There is so much to learn. Nice article.


Kosmo profile image

Kosmo 6 years ago from California Author

Yes, Austinstar, the ebb and flow of civilization certainly is fascinating. I'm glad you've seen some of the Aztec and Mayan ruins. I wish I had. Keep exploring. Later!


Frank Gualtier 6 years ago

Thanks for including your thoughts on the drilling of beads - hopefully it moves the thoughts of some more towards science than faith. I personally believe that humans are and were capable enough to have achieved these things unaided. As for the modern inhabitants one could say the same of many other cultures in that climate, resource availablity and perhaps a few smarter-than-average citizens (how often do WE get an Einstein or a Mozart?) all conspired to historically brief periods of greatness. The older the cultures and esp those without written languages - the easier it is to see why history provides only gaps. Just my opinion, but I feel compelled to defend the simple fact that people such as those in your article had brains just as adept as our own and there were many of them (that is to say - just because I might not have come up with velcro doesn't automatically defer it's creation to extraterrestrials). Besides, if ancient aliens had the tech to travel such distances through space - why the heck would they be indulging relatively (to them I'd think) stone tech when they could have imparted some things that'd really be burning our brains right now. 2 cents... -frank-


optimus grimlock profile image

optimus grimlock 5 years ago

Since we dont know how these places were built its easy to say ancient people could never do so. As humans we surprise ourselves all the time but the ancient alien thory is much more fun. Also if aliens helped but didn't want new generations to know wouldn't you think they would take the evidence with them?


Kosmo profile image

Kosmo 5 years ago from California Author

You're right, optimus grimlock (love that name), aliens almost certainly didn't erect those odd statues, but it's fun to think they did. Later!


PaperNotes profile image

PaperNotes 5 years ago

Perhaps, the technologies used by the people during the ancient civilization were very much advanced yet unfortunately have been gone along with time. Who knows, one day the archeologists can unearth a lot more information about these unexplainable occurrences.


Kosmo profile image

Kosmo 5 years ago from California Author

Yes, I would definitely like to have a better idea how these ancient people moved 400-ton blocks of stone from place to place. Aliens probably could have done it, of course, but why would they have bothered? Later!


ramakant.yadav 5 years ago

Some people probably think all the buildings are built by aliens.

Fact is, ancient people did not have cable TV and Internet. That's probably the reason they were able to build all the buildings that they built. It is easy to imagine this conversation:

ancient person1: hey, slow day..

ancient person2: yeah, but the grass is certainly growing quick.

ancient person3: hey, let's build a big thing with stones and stuff.

ancient person1: hmmm.what for?

ancient person3: you got a better idea?

10 years later, there is a big pyramid in the middle of nowhere.


Kosmo profile image

Kosmo 5 years ago from California Author

Yes, I'm sure much building could be accomplished without TV and the Internet competing for one's attention. Thanks for the comment, ramakant yadav. Later!


John 5 years ago

Well... reading all details about Pumapunku and watching the History's "Ancient Aliens".. as wise as we are thinking right now and as modern as we have evolved today it very easy to conclude that those ruins are clearly done with modern tools... whether a race from another planet or those civilisations are simply or actually more advanced than we are now is the answer...


Elrascal profile image

Elrascal 5 years ago

I love mysteries and conspiracies like this. They are just so fun and exciting. Thanks for the hub.


Kosmo profile image

Kosmo 5 years ago from California Author

Thanks for the comment, Elrascal, the ancient mysteries are the best mysteries. Later!


tikki 5 years ago

So how old are the structures at Pumapunku?


Kosmo profile image

Kosmo 5 years ago from California Author

Pumapunku was built about 3,500 years ago. Thanks for the comment, tikki. Later!


irclay profile image

irclay 4 years ago from Barbados, Canada

http://skeptoid.com/episodes/4202 suggest that the structures were not that unique and that the same super-humans were evident in ancient Greece. Who really know?

great Hub! i am scripting a video for Bolivia ancient civilization to follow a tourism piece http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rzbrx_axork


Kosmo profile image

Kosmo 4 years ago from California Author

Irclay, thanks for the comment. Yes, those super humans certainly get around, don't they? That is to say, "Humans are super." Anyway, I checked out your video. I love Bolivia. Later!


Justin Dickens 4 years ago

George, with the crazy hair,of 'Ancient Alien's,When visiting 'Machu Piccu', said

he coundn't lite his lighter because of lack of oxygen.My question is:How the hell was he breathing????

Still,one of my favorite shows.


Kosmo profile image

Kosmo 4 years ago from California Author

Hey, Justin Dickens, Pumapunku, is a high altitude place, perhaps so high a cigarette lighter wouldn't be as easy to light. That makes much more sense than much of what the Ancient Aliens' proponents claim. Later!


Skatay 4 years ago

I've always found it funny how most people toss out the story's the locals will tell them about the ones that came from the heavens and created the people and the culture and a couple of places to hang out while they were here....so many cultures have such stories I find it hard to not believe them.... Why would they lie?In the future somebody will be digging around where in lived and looking at the mounds around Kennedy space center.... Dig up a couple of people, find traces of drugs in their hair and say " wow this one must have been a shaman and look at the crazy monuments.... Must have been a cultural center ...why would they've wanted to go to space?

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