Puma Puncu -- Bolivia
 

 • Location: Puma Puncu is part of a large temple complex or monument group 
that is part of the site near Tiwanaku Bolivia, 45 miles west of La Paz high in 
the Andes mountains 
 

 • Description:   Puma Punku is a large temple complex or monument group that 
is part of the Tiwanaku Site near Tiwanaku, Bolivia. 
 At its peak, Pumapunku is thought to have been "unimaginably wondrous, adorned 
with polished metal plaques, brightly colored ceramic and fabric ornamentation, 
trafficked by costumed citizens, elaborately dressed priests and elites decked 
in exotic jewelry.  
 Tiwanaku is significant in Inca traditions because it is believed to be the 
site where the world was created.'
 The megalithic stones found here are among the largest on the planet, 
measuring up to 26 feet long and weighing more than 100 tons each.  An  
extensive infrastructure had been developed with a complex irrigation system 
running over 30 square miles (80 km2) to support potatoes, quinoa, corn and 
other various crops. At its peak the Tiwanaku culture dominated the entire Lake 
Titicaca basin as well as portions of Bolivia and Chile. 
 

 • Age: The radiocarbon date of the initial construction of the Pumapunku is 
536–600.The Tiwanaku civilization and the use of these temples appears to some 
to have peaked from 700 to 1000 CE. 
 

 • Population:  the temples and surrounding area may have been home to some 
400,000 people. 
 

 • Engineering:  Surveys using ground-penetrating radar, magnetometry, induced 
electrical conductivity, and magnetic susceptibility revealing the presence of 
numerous man-made structures including the wall foundations of buildings and 
compounds, water conduits, pool-like features, revetments, terraces, 
residential compounds, and widespread gravel pavements all of which now lie 
buried and hidden beneath the modern ground’s surface. 
 Notable features at Pumapunku are I-shaped architectural cramps, which are 
composed of a unique copper-arsenic-nickel bronze alloy.that hold the blocks 
comprising the walls and bottom of stone-lined canals that drain sunken courts. 
I-cramps of unknown composition were used to hold together the massive slabs 
that formed Pumapunku's four large platforms. In the south canal of the 
Pumapunku, the I-shaped cramps were cast in place. In sharp contrast, the 
cramps used at the Akapana canal were fashioned by the cold hammering of 
copper-arsenic-nickel bronze ingots.  
 Many of the joints are so precise that not even a razor blade will fit between 
the stones.[10] 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. 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.[9] Tiwanaku engineers were also adept at developing a 
civic infrastructure at this complex, constructing functional irrigation 
systems, hydraulic mechanisms, and waterproof sewage lines.
 

 • Architecture:  Puma Puncu was a large earthen platform mound with three 
levels of stone retaining walls thought to have resembled a square. Foundations 
often fitting stones directly to bedrock or digging precise trenches and 
carefully filling them with layered sedimentary stones to support and sustain 
the weight of these massive structures of large stone blocks. The largest of 
these stone blocks is 7.81 meters long, 5.17 meters wide, averages 1.07 meters 
thick, and is estimated to weigh about 131 metric tons. The second largest 
stone block found within the Pumapunku is 7.90 metres (25.9 feet) long, 2.50 
metres (8 feet 2 inches) wide, and averages 1.86 metres (6 feet 1 inch) thick. 
Its weight has been estimated to be 85.21 metric tons. 
 Based upon detailed petrographic and chemical analyses of samples from both 
individual stones and known quarry sites, archaeologists concluded that these 
and other red sandstone blocks were transported up a steep incline from a 
quarry near Lake Titicaca roughly 10 kilometres (6.2 miles) away. Smaller 
andesite blocks that were used for stone facing and carvings came from quarries 
within the Copacabana Peninsula about 90 kilometres (56 miles) away from and 
across Lake Titicaca from the Pumapunku and the rest of the Tiwanaku Site. In 
assembling the walls of Pumapunku, each stone was finely cut to interlock with 
the surrounding stones and the blocks 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.[4] 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.
 

 • Purpose and Culture: It is theorized[by whom?] the Pumapunku complex as well 
as its surrounding temples, the Akapana pyramid, Kalasasaya, Putuni, 
andKerikala functioned as spiritual and ritual centers for the Tiwanaku. This 
area might have been viewed as the center of the Andean world, attracting 
pilgrims from far away to marvel in its beauty. 
 These structures transformed the local landscape; Pumapunku was purposely 
integrated with Illimani mountain, a sacred peak that the Tiwanaku possibly 
believed to be home to the spirits of their dead. This area was believed to 
have existed between heaven and Earth. 
 The spiritual significance and the sense of wonder would have been amplified 
into a "mind-altering and life-changing experience"[14] through the use of 
hallucinogenic plants. Examinations of hair samples exhibit remnants of 
psychoactive substances in many mummies found in Tiwanaku culture mummies from 
Northern Chile.
 

 • Decline: The culture in question seems to have dissolved rather abruptly 
some time around 1000 CE and researchers are still seeking answers as to why. A 
likely scenario involves rapid environmental change, possibly involving an 
extended drought. Unable to support the massive crop yields necessary for their 
large population, the Tiwanaku are argued to have scattered into the local 
mountain ranges only to disappear shortly thereafter.[17][18] Puma Punku is 
thought to have been abandoned before it was finished. 
 

 Sources: Pumapunku - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia   
 

 

 

 

  
 

 

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