Chapter 2 Part 1

The Beginning of Studies on Kalasasaya

Since the most important part of this work is that which has to do with the great Temple of the Sun, Kalasasaya, and the applied science possessed by American man, we believe it fitting to review the laborious preparatory stages of these studies which in all their ramifications, lasted more than a third of a century and the quintessence of which is found in the present chapter of the second volume of TIHUANACU, THE CRADLE OF AMERICAN MAN. We shall first present a special bibliographic analysis related to the material.

We do not propose to mention here what chroniclers and travelers have said on the subject. Neither do we wish to scrutinize the works which modern laymen have devoted to the subject. Rather, we wish only to refer to the works of authorized persons which, not having lost their timeliness, have an important relation to that supreme monument and the science which American man left us with it. With respect to the works of chroniclers and travelers, as well as those of dilettantes, we have set aside a bibliographical section at the end of the last volume, accompanied with brief comments.

It was in the year 1904 that we began our work directed toward the discovery of the secrets held by Kalasasaya and the Sun Door, its principal stone piece. In an elemental manner, from the point of view of the engineer, we first drew a map of the ruins and took detailed photographs of the monuments on large plates. This course was followed in view of the fact that a few years before there had begun, in systematic form, the destruction of the magnificent ruins of Tihuanacu; a destruction carried out both by the builders of the Guaqui-La Paz railroad and the Indian contingent of the modern village of Tihuanacu who used the ruins as a quarry for commercial exploitation. In view of this fact, and in order to avoid their irreparable loss to Americanistic science and future civilization and culture, the author proposed to save what still remained. He struggled tenaciously along Don Manuel Vicente Ballivián, President of the Geographic Society of La Paz, and succeeded in having the Congress pass laws for the protection of the archaeological monuments on Bolivian soil. This program of protection was put in the hands of the State, which did not carry out the laws nor oblige any one else to do so, with the result that the vandalic destruction continued unpunished. We have preserved a full graphic and literal documentation on this subject and we recall that certain newspapers, which waged an ignoble campaign against us, even went so far as to encourage the destruction of those archaeological relics.

In order to arouse the interest of the scientific world, especially of America, the author presented in 1908, before the Pan American Scientific Congress, meeting in Santiago de Chile, an extensive work, rather fully documentated but of relative value, which was published in Vol. I of the “Anales” (Anthropological Section) pp. 1 to 142, with illustrations, maps, facsimiles and a chromolithograph.

We continued our work on the site of our studies, whenever our professional occupations and the routine struggle for existence permitted, and in the year 1910, as the delegate of Bolivia to the Twentieth International Congress of Americanists in Buenos Aires, we gave an account of the new discoveries and studies carried out at Tihuanacu, by means of an extensive lecture illustrated with maps and some one hundred slides. Those attending the Congress were then invited, in the name of the government of Bolivia and the President of the Geographic Society of La Paz, Mr. Manuel Vicente Ballivián, to visit those amazing American monuments. A considerable section of the Congress accepted this invitation, and thus began the trip across the continent on the Argentinian railroads, in wagons, on the backs of animals, and finally on the recently constructed Bolivian railways. A lecture delivered by the author at the scene of the ruins gave rise to a lively discussion, and attracted the attention of scientists to Tihuanacu. At that time, we pointed out the basis of the efforts to investigate the age of Tihuanacu by means of astronomical calculations in the Temple of the Sun, Kalasasaya. As was to be supposed, in view of the fact that none of those present had technical knowledge of such complicated material, that preliminary study was received with a certain amount of scepticism. On this occasion there was distributed among the delegates to the Congress, a voluminous photographic album and book dealing with the ruins, written by Don Manuel Vicente Ballivián and the present author.

After many articles of scientific divulgation published both in the country and outside, there appeared in La Paz, in 1912, the book entitled “Guía General llustrada. Tihuanacu, Islas del Sol y de la Luna, etc.” We left the copy for this book in press upon going to travel in Europe with the object of amplifying our studies, a circumstance which made it impossible for us to check personally the correction of the proofs. As a result, a good many typographical errors slipped in, especially in that part dealing with ideas on the chronology of Kalasasaya, where the compositor left out two lines. This caused José Imbelloni, in 1926, to emit certain derogatory opinions in his “Esfinge Indiana”, pretending maliciously not to be familiar with our later studies on the age of Thuanacu. The “lapsus tipograficus” in question was corrected in the “Comentario de la Esfinge Indiana”, La Paz, 1927.

The “Guía de Tihuanacu” was an amplification of the essay which we presented in 1908 before the Scientific Congress meeting in Santiago de Chile, in which there was attacked, in the form of an “Arbeitshipotese”, (53) the question of the age of Tihuanacu—but naturally only in the form of a preliminary essay.

After remaining in Europe for two years, during which time the author devoted himself to the study of natural and geodetic sciences as well as other scientific studies, there appeared in Germany and other countries in 1914, the first volume of “Una Metrópoli Prehistórica en la América del Sur”, which contained the first studies connected with the building of Kalasasaya.

The years passed and in spite of the fact that the struggle for existence absorbed the major part of our time, we continued dedicated to the task of developing our astronomical studies, and to carrying out serious geodetic investigations and astronomical calculations in Tihuanacu. Finally, in the year 1918, we published a work connected with the determination of the age of Tihuanacu, entitled “El Gran Templo del Sol en los Andes. La Edad de Tihuanacu”, which appeared in “Bulletin No. 45” of the Geographic Society of La Paz.

During the following years we drew up exact maps of the region of Tihuanacu and of all the monuments, especially of Kalasasaya, all of which are published in the present volume.

In August, 1924, the author, as the delegate to the Twenty-first International Congress of Americanists held in The Hague, gave an account of the new investigations carried out in the prehistoric city, by means of an illustrated lecture using the prepared maps. This was later published in the “Anales” of this Congress.

Later, the same subject was treated in a lengthy disquisition, followed by an exhibition of materials and slides, in the astronomical observatories of Potsdam and Treptow (in Berlin). An extract from this lecture was published in the “Weltall”, the journal of the latter organization.

As a result of our instigations brought forward during the conference at The Hague, (54) a trip to Bolivia was arranged by the Director of the Astronomical Observatory of Potsdam, Dr. Hanns Ludendorff, by the astronomers Professor Dr. Arnold Kohlschütter, of the University of Bonn, Dr. Rolf Müller, of the Astrophysical Institute of Potsdam and Dr. Friedrich Becker, of the Specula Vaticana, with the object of carrying out astrographic studies in the southern firmament and with the further purpose of checking the astronomic-archaeological investigations of the author in Tihuanacu. They were with us during the years 1927 to 1930; they visited Tihuanacu for a considerable period of time and in this interim carried out new and profound observations of unquestionable accuracy.

Among the members of the mission, Dr. Rolf Müller dedicated himself more earnestly than any other investigator to observations in Tihuanacu; he remained a long time at the ruins, carrying out confirmatory work in connection with our previous studies and making new investigations of great importance. This task was completed between the years 1928 and 1930. After a new determination in the solstice of June, 1928, an official record was made of the preliminary work which, accompanied by a brief review from the pen of the author, was sent to the Twenty-third Congress of Americanists which met that year in New York City. The record and review were published in the “Anales” of this Congress but unfortunately, with some typographical errors. (54a)

We continued the astronomical-archaeological investigations with Professor Müller, not only in the ruins of Tihuanacu and in the South of Peru, but also in La Paz; the early results of this research were later published by Professor Müller in a “Report” in German. At the express desire of the author, we translated the original manuscript of the report to Spanish, so that it could be published in the “Boletín de la Sociedad Geográfica de la Paz”, At that time, unfortunately, the publication of that “Boletín” was suspended and we had to insert the work in the “Anales de la Sociedad Científica de Bolivia”.

Upon his return to Germany, Professor Müller, being aided by the valuable cooperation and advice of the learned Professor Dr. Hanns Ludendorff, published a detailed work on our investigations in Vol. XIV of the “Baesler Archiv”, pp.123-142. (55)

What has been related above, constitutes the genesis of the work carried out in the Temple of the Sun, Kalasasaya. It is natural that this work should have attracted the attention of the scientific and pseudo-scientific world, but since it is a question of so complex a subject, there were no persons competent to judge those investigations with their own criteria.

Finally in the year 1926 there appeared a book with the bombastic title “La Esfinge Indiana”, written by José Imbelloni, of Buenos Aires, a good man but completely devoid of scientific training. His work is an amorphous conglomeration of Americanist material in which, on the basis of childish arguments, he criticizes our investigations in Kalasasaya, especially those dealing with the age of Tihuanacu. It was an easy matter for us to refute the scatterbrained criticisms of the “scholar” Imbelloni, in a brochure entitled “Comentario a la Esfinge Indiana” and in articles published in the Sunday editions of “La Nación” of Buenos Aires; with this we thought we had ended the matter. However, Dr. Müller, who had received this criticism, which is really a “Sphinx” as its name indicates, also alluded to it in his work “El Concepto Astronómico del Gran Templo del Sol de Kalasasaya”, and among other things, said the following: “As I have stated in the introduction, Professor Posnahsky has concerned himself with that problem. In1926 there was published in the Argentine Republic a voluminous book by José Imbelloni, which, among other things, also deals with the culture of the inhabitants of the Andes of South America and in which the author refers to the determination of the age of Tihuanacu by astronomical means. Imbelloni criticizes severely Professor Posnansky’s work in this connection and affirms that all of the calculations of the said Professor are absurd and untenable. If indeed, as is the case, there is some room for criticism in the first works of Professor Posnansky in the year 1912, in view of the fact that these were nothing more than his first attempt in astronomical problems and in which he used the astronomical point of view only in the form of an “Arbeitshipotese”, (55a) there is no reason to so designate them. Imbelloni maliciously ignores the later works of Professor Posnansky of the years 1918, 1924 and following. If a person like Imbelloni, is going to concern himself with astronomical questions, which, in his book he calls “elemental, simple and known”, he should at least study these sciences, and then he would not have been guilty of such injudicious statements and mistakes, which in truth concern elemental ideas, as for example, that of confusing the precession of the equinoxes with the variation of the obliquity of the ecliptic. But his situation is even worse in regard to his mathematical calculations and especially when he cites examples based on his criterion, with which he wishes to prove supposed absurdities in Professor Posnansky. For example: Imbelloni (56) calculates the dimensions of the length of the walls of the Temple (in which operation he makes a mistake in the length of the Temple) and uses, instead of the figure 129 m., the figure 135 m., which corresponds to the Temple of the second Period plus the Balcony of the Third Period. The value that Imbelloni obtains by this method sui generis, is then compared with the present obliquity of the ecliptic; of course without even taking into account the “influence of the polar altitude”. If Imbelloni had made his calculations in the correct form, or, applying the influence of the altitude of the pole which is 2° 10′ then he would have obtained the following absurd results: that Tihuanacu could have been constructed some thousands of years post-Christum natum !!”

After the foregoing quotation from Professor Müller, we shall file Imbelloni and his “science.”

Returning to our subject, we wish to point out that after the astronomical mission had returned to Europe, we continued our studies and obtained new material, the results of which we will state briefly in this chapter. We shall refrain from going into greater detail in order not to convert it into a special monograph. However, for those who have a special interest in this matter, we recommend the publications of Dr. Müller our companion in investigations during the years 1928 to 1930. These publications constitute the most serious and authoritative treatment that has been given this subject, from an astronomical point of view.

Since it would be troublesome to repeat the already published data—a great part of which was perhaps rectified by the new studies carried out in company with Dr. Müller—we are, in the present chapter giving only a synthesis of the results ultimately obtained, or those definitively rectified.


(53) “Arbeitshipotese”. A technical German word which expresses the idea that a scholar takes as a basis a hypothesis which will serve as an advance background for an investigation which is in a state of preparation.

(54) Anales del Congreso Internacional de Americanistas, The Hague, p. 60.

(54a) In the copy of the New York Public Library we have rectified these errors.

(55) Dr. Müller corrected, in the “Report” published in the Baeiler Arcbiv, certain points of his work printed in the Anales de la Sociedad Científica de Bolivia.

(55a) See Note 53.

(56) Imbelloni was never in Tihuanacu.


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