Chapter 2 Part 4

The Two Different Periods in the Construction of Kalasasaya

As is established in the corresponding chapter of the first volume, there are THREE PRINCIPAL PERIODS in Tihuanacu. One, extremely primitive and with its own characteristic features, to which there belongs, as a building exclusively of that period, the “Palace” or “Temple” marked “C” on the triangulation map of Tihuanacu inserted in that volume, (Plate 3). In this period there was also begun the “Pukara” or fortress of Akapana and the Temple of the Moon, today called Puma-Punku. The three works have the same orientation, or are 2° 49′ 7″ from the meridian. We have very little knowledge of that period because of its great age. (61)

The construction of the Pukara Akapana and the Temple of the Moon, Puma-Punku, was continued in the Second and Third Periods of Tihuanacu. We possess ample material with which to elaborate our knowledge of these two periods and especially in order to understand, in addition to many other things, the system and method of their constructions, their science, their cosmological beliefs and theogonic ideas.

In Kalasasaya there can be noted the instructive evidences of both cultures which, we repeat, are separated by a long lapse of time. To the Second Period there belongs, without any doubt, the great quadrilateral, for the erection and architecture of which they seem to have taken their inspiration from the small temple of the First Period . . . AFTER HAVING EXCAVATED IT. Kalasasaya of the Second Period is 128 meters 74 centimeters long by 118 meters 26 centimeters wide. The monumental perron to the east belongs to this period. (62)

We assign to the Third Period, without fear of error, the monumental colonnade or balcony wall, and another building which is within the great enclosure beyond the stair which we have designated provisionally “sanctum sanctorum”, as well as the REPAIRS MADE ON THE EAST WALL which itself belongs, without doubt, to the Second Period. It should be kept in mind that in this period there existed, possibly on the same site, a balcony wall, doubtless of red sandstone, with the object of protecting from the view of strangers the observation post which was found at the center of the line between the southeast and northeast pillars. In the course of this chapter unimpeachable proof of what we have just affirmed in this paragraph will be supplied.

During the First Period sandstone which comes from the mountainous region to the south of the ruins, was used exclusively; there was also used for certain works (sculptures of heads to be set in the walls) a soft calcareous tufa.

In the Second Period there was used, although on a small scale, the extremely hard, eruptive-crystalline rocks like the andesites. Naturally, they used sandstone when it belonged to the preceding period and was already placed and cut. They then arranged it, retouched it and continued the former work according to their own criterion, with their new style and symbolic decoration. An eloquent example illustrating the improvement of previous works, is the retouching of the colossal idol which they found in the temple of the First Period. This, roughly carved, was given a new form and was covered with the symbolic inscriptions of the new epoch. Another most impressive example is to be observed in Puma-Punku, the construction of which was continued in the Second and Third Periods in a very active form.

The south, west and north walls (let us say the walls of less rank) belonging to the Second Period of Kalasasaya, are still of red sandstone. The east wall, or that of great rank and also of the Second Period was already constructed of igneous, andesitic rocks. (See an enormous abrasion in Fig. 13, 13a, 13b).

Figure 13  Completely eroded block - in its time well carved - above the farthest corner on which the sun rises at the winter solstice.

Figure 13
Completely eroded block – in its time well carved – above the farthest corner on which the sun rises at the winter solstice.


Figure 13a  Remains of the cast wall of the Sun Temple of Kalasasaya. The block on the left is of andesite and comes from the Second Period in which this temple was built. The block on the right is from the Third Period and replaced an eroded block.

Figure 13a
Remains of the cast wall of the Sun Temple of Kalasasaya. The block on the left is of andesite and comes from the Second Period in which this temple was built. The block on the right is from the Third Period and replaced an eroded block.


Figure 13b  A section of the west wall of the Sun Temple which belongs to the beginning of the Second Period; its continuation is the famous balcony wall of the Third Period.

Figure 13b
A section of the west wall of the Sun Temple which belongs to the beginning of the Second Period; its continuation is the famous balcony wall of the Third Period.

All that which is still standing of the Third Period in Kalasasaya is worked exclusively in hard andesitic lava, as for example, the balcony wall, the sanctissimum and the reconstructions of the Second Period. But it is not only in the material that the Third Period differs from the preceding one; it is especially in the so perfect working of the rock, a thing unsurpassed in the world up to this time. It is seen further in the symbolic style of the engravings which are extraordinarily advanced and especially, in the astronomical orientation of its construction which shows a variation of 25′ 30″ between one period and the other.

The orientation of the south wall of Kalasasaya of the Second Period is 89° 18′, of the north 89° 20′, of the east 358° 58′ 30″ and of the west 358° 53′ 30″. The constructions of the Third Period such as the sanctissimum and the balcony wall, deviate from the meridian to the west 42′, or they were located at 359° 18′.

Bronze appears in the Third Period. One frequently notes the repairs in the walls of former periods in which they joined blocks by means of bronze bolts; these they used in different shapes for their own constructions, even in the form of rings, (Fig. 14). In this very period, characterized by a maximum advance—it constitutes the epopee of Tihuanacu—the “Loka” also appears, a common, everyday unit of measure which, to judge by the construction of the balcony wall, had a length of 161 cm. 3.25 mm., equivalent possibly to the arm span of the average individual of that time. (See our work: “Antropología y Sociología”).

Figure 14  A bronze bolt (clamp) in half size. With these devices, which also came in large sizes, they joined the carved blocks in the surfaces of which there had previously been made depressions in the form and size of the bolt.

Figure 14
A bronze bolt (clamp) in half size. With these devices, which also came in large sizes, they joined the carved blocks in the surfaces of which there had previously been made depressions in the form and size of the bolt.


Figure 14a  Schematic drawing of a few if the many forms of the bolts, vestiges of which are found in the shape of depressions in the blocks supported in ancient times by these clamps or couplings which were used between them.

Figure 14a
Schematic drawing of a few if the many forms of the bolts, vestiges of which are found in the shape of depressions in the blocks supported in ancient times by these clamps or couplings which were used between them.

The Sun Door is the most glorious monument of this period. An attempt was made to finish the buildings of the First and Second Periods, as we shall see farther on, especially the Temple of the Moon, Puma-punku and the Pukara Akapana, but they were not concluded. With the exception of the Temple of the First Period, absolutely nothing is finished in Tihuanacu, not even the supreme piece of this period, The Sun Door, as we have seen in the preceding chapter. Tihuanacu of the Third Period is a megalomaniacal work like the Tower of Babel and, had it been completed, it would possibly have surpassed everything that man has constructed on the earth.

Among the sciences they came to know, as we shall see farther on, they mastered the astronomical bearings of the meridian, with which it was possible to determine the exact “amplitude” of the sun in the Third Period and with this, in turn, the obliquity of the ecliptic—a value which has supplied us with the basis for determining the approximate age of Tihuanacu. By means of this knowledge the equinoxes and solstices were established, the aphelion and the perihelion were known, the solar year divided into twelve months was used. Even the zodiac became known, as has been seen in the previous chapter which deals with the Sun Door, but in a form quite different from that known by the ancient Semitic sages of Chaldea, whose knowledge was passed on to the astronomy of the present day.


(61) Cf. in this connection: Posnansky, Antropología y sociología de las razas interandinas y adyacentes, p. 106; Isla Simillake y sus edificios, Las Paz, 1937.

(62) Later we shall give the exact length of each one of the four walls, obtained by triangulation.


Continue to The Astronomic Science of Tihuanacu. How Kalasasaya was Built to be Used as a Stone Almanac

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