Arthur Posnansky (1873–1946), often called “Arturo”, was at various times in his life an engineer, explorer, ship’s navigator, director of a river navigation company, entrepreneur, La Paz city council member, and well known and well respected avocational archaeologist. During his lifetime, Posnansky was known as a prolific writer and researcher and for his active participation in the defense and development of Bolivia. He is well known for his books, including Tihuanacu, the Cradle of American Man, Campana de Acre, La Lancha “Iris”, Die Osterinsel und ihre praehistorischen Monumente, and Rasas y Monummtos Prehistoricos del Altiplano Andino. Outside of Bolivia, where he is still widely read, Posnansky’s writings about the Tiwanaku Site have also been made popular by authors such as Graham Hancock, Charles Hapgood, and Rand Flem-Ath, who rely on Posnansky’s dating of the Tiwanaku Site to support their theories.
After settling in Bolivia, Posnansky repeatedly traveled the Bolivian and Peruvian highlands in efforts to locate, describe, and study Inca and pre-Inca archaeological sites. He was especially interested in those found along the shoreline and on the islands of Lake Titicaca. The results of these investigations were published in books such as The Islands of Titicaca and Koati and Rasas y monumentos prehistoricos del Altiplano Andino. For such research, the Bolivian Senate awarded him a gold medal in 1905 and he later became Director of the National Museum. He also authored books, which included Os Indios Paumaris e Ipurinas no rio Purus (1898) and Mapa del rio Acre (7 volumes, 1897), about South American geography and ethnology. He also lectured about archaeological subjects in Berlin, Frankfort, Nuremberg, and Treptow, Germany. In recognition of his accomplishments, the German Government conferred on him an honorary title of Professor in 1914.
Posnansky’s final and most important book, Tihuanacu, the Cradle of American Man, was published in 1945 (volumes I and II) and 1957 (volumes III and IV). In it, Posnansky argued that Tiwanaku was constructed approximately 17,000 years ago by American peoples, although not by the ancestors of those then living in the area, the Aymara. Posnansky also saw Tiwanaku as the origin point of civilization throughout the Americas, including the Inca, the Maya and others. Since the publication of the work, these ideas have since been discredited by later archaeological research. However, the photographs, detailed descriptions of structures and inscriptions, meticulously prepared maps, and numerous photographs found in this work constitute an extremely valuable historical record of the site. Posnansky’s ideas about Tiwanaku having been a full-fledged city with a large permanent population, rather than only a seasonally occupied ceremonial center, and its abandonment having been the result of prehistoric climatic change are widely accepted in principle. This book and his personal efforts also contributed significantly to the eventual preservation of the site at a time when it was being very badly damaged by neglect, stone-quarrying, and looting.
The Temple of the Sun Kalasasaya, an “Inti Huatana”. Astronomical Science in Tihuanacu
- The Beginning of Studies in Tihuanacu
- Architecnographical Introduction
- The Object of the Building Kalasasaya
- The Two Different Periods in the Construction of Kalasasaya
- The Astronomic Science of Tihuanacu. How Kalasasaya was Built to be Used as a Stone Almanac
- The Approach to Kalasasaya. The Monumental Perron
- Kalasasaya of the Third Period
The Astronomical Angles and Probable Age of Tihuanacu