A guide to the archaeological site of Tiwanaku:

Tiwanaku (Spanish: Tiahuanaco or Tiahuanacu) is a pre-Columbian archaeological site in western Bolivia, South America.

The site was first recorded in written history by Spanish conquistador Pedro Cieza de León. He came upon the remains of Tiwanaku in 1549 while searching for the Inca capital Qullasuyu, documented in his book Crónicas del Perú.

Centuries later researchers began the task of excavating the area and undertaking the enormous challenge of deciphering the ruins. The written works of these researchers reveal a site spanning approximately 2500 years, representing a great culture that had expanded across a vast territory encompassing the north of Chile and Peru.

At its peak Tiwanaku was the most important city and civilization center in the whole of the continent and its influence can be seen in vast areas of modern day Bolivia, Peru and Argentina. It is believed that the people of the city of Tiwanaku were more advanced in pottery, astronomy and math than the Incas whom they predated.

The ancient inhabitants of Tiwanaku were excellent farmers, who managed metals with great skill, were developed in the arts of sculpture and architecture, the fruit of such knowledge are evident in the temples and pyramids built; Kalasassaya, Akapana and Puma Punku. The symbologies and iconography seen in their ceramics and sculptures, such as the Bennett or Ponce monoliths, record their cosmogony and attest to the refined skills.

They also knew of the science of astronomy, as exemplified in the Puerta del Sol, considered a calendar by many researchers.

In the political field, Tiwanaku developed as any society, in social strata, with a working class, middle class, and upper class, and with the heads of the state setting the course of their peoples.

The end of this civilization may have been due to climatic changes that brought draught and famine, and war with rival peoples.

Stela 8 with Gateway of the Sun in background, Kalasasaya temple, Tiahuanaco (Tiwanaku)

Stela 8 with Gateway of the Sun in background,
Kalasasaya temple, Tiahuanaco (Tiwanaku)

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