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Monday, December 31, 2012

The Mystery of Tiwanaku / Phase 12

 

The Kalasasaya complex was used as a ceremonial center and for astronomical observations, allowing users to observe and define certain astronomical activities on any day of the 365-day year.  This indicates that the Tiwanaku civilization understood earth/sun cycles (calendar) and astronomy well enough to incorporate them into their construction  and agricultural projects.

 

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Tiwanaku Panorama

 

Throughout their imperial reign, the Tiwanaku shared domination of the Middle Horizon Period with the Wari. The Wari culture rose and fell around the same time and was centered 500 miles north in the southern highlands of Peru. The relationship between the two empires is unknown. Definite interaction between the two is proved by their shared iconography in art. Significant elements of both of these styles (the split eye, trophy heads, and staff-bearing profile figures, for example) seem to have been derived from that of the earlier Pukara culture in the northern Titicaca Basin.  This may indicate the people of the Pukara culture were related to the people of Tiwanaku too.  The people of Tiwanaku created a powerful ideology, using previous Andean icons that spread throughout their sphere of influence using extensive trade routes and shamanistic art.
Tiwanaku sculpture is comprised typically of blocky column-like figures with huge, flat square eyes, and detailed with shallow relief carving. They are often holding ritual objects like the Ponce Stella or the Bennett Monolith.

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The Bennett Monolith

The largest Stella at Tiwanaku (above) is 24 feet high (20 tons), known as the Bennett monolith, or 'Pachamama' monolith. The lower half of its body, which is covered with fish-heads,   reminds one of the Mesopotamian legendary deity, Oannes, the half-man, half-fish, amphibious being who conveyed special knowledge to ancient humankind. Oannes is often associated with the Andean creator god, Viracocha. It is said that Viracocha came from the sea too.   Some statues have been found holding severed heads such as the figure on the Akapana Pyramid, possibly a puma-shaman.

 

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Tiwanaku Human Effigy

These images suggest ritual human beheading, which correlate with the discovery of headless skeletons found under the Akapana Pyramid. Therefore, this civilization was quite bloodthirsty in its religion.  The Nazca also beheaded people and practiced the use of Trophy Heads.  The Nazca took the trophy head hunting as far as they could and that may be one of the reasons for that civilization’s downfall.  They practiced a fertility rite that also went to extremes.  Tiwanaku probably had a similar  religion.  It is possible that during a rite of Pachamama some sort of fertility ritual was conducted atop their high altars.

 

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A Pachamama fertility symbol

From 300 A.D. on Tiwanaku began to expand in influence and power in the region. From 400 A.D., the Tiwanaku culture emerges from Lake Titicaca and spreads to southern Peru, eastern Bolivia, and northern Chile.  This was in Early Intermediate Period 200 A.D. – 600 A.D. that made them contemporaries with the Moche and Nazca.  I am beginning to believe there may have been more than a casual relationship with the Nazca as there is evidence that the Ancient Astronauts also were in  this area.   The Classic Period, 300-700 AD., is the period that produced most of the large stone structures seen today. The use of bronze and gold indicates trade contacts. Pottery includes human heads and faces with bulging cheeks, indicating the coca leaf was in use by this time.
Near the main complex there appears at first glance to be little more than a gentle slope, but upon closer inspection shows the entire surface to be covered with huge quantities of ceramics and other artifacts. A little over ten years ago, excavations by Bolivian archaeologist Javier Escalante revealed that this sloped area was formally sculpted into a series of stone terraces that served as platforms for homes.  Did this population make the food, drink, and elaborate decorations necessary for ceremonies? Were they allowed to attend the rituals at the monuments, or were they simply observers?   No one at this time knows for sure - but people who lived and worked at this giant ceremonial complex had to have a place to live:

 

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The La Karana Mound