Thu, 04 Apr 2013 15:41 CDT
Reconstructed ruins of Tiwanaku in Bolivia
Tiwanaku, or Tiahuanaco in Spanish, is a ruined citadel occupying almost 10 square kilometers in the Bolivian Andes at an altitude greater than 3800 meters. Carbon-14 dating methods suggest that the site is no more than 3700 years old. However, as previous
Picture of the Day articles discuss, radiometric dating is, at best, an unreliable system for establishing age.
According to the book, Tiahuanaco, The Cradle of American Man
by University of La Paz Professor Arthur Posnansky, Tiwanaku is closer to 17,000 years old, perhaps one of the oldest surviving human habitations on Earth.
Posnansky based his estimate on the alignment of the Kalasasaya temple stones. "Kalasasaya" means "standing stones" and refers to the large stone pylons apparently aligned deliberately around a central courtyard. The current temple is a reconstruction and does not reflect the original architecture that the pre-Incan inhabitants intended. There was no wall between the standing stones as there is today.
Many ancient civilizations used astronomical alignments in their structures. Norse burial mounds
were made with apertures that allowed a shaft of sunlight to shine into their deepest recesses on only one particular day of the year: usually the winter solstice. The inhabitants of Chaco Canyon built rock buttresses with slots in them set up so that a beam of sunlight could pierce the heart of a chiseled spiral
petrogram on the summer solstice. The walls of many Chaco Canyon buildings
are also lined up with the sunrise and sunset on specific days of the year.
Posnansky's research over several decades showed him that the alignments in Tiwanaku were offset from what should have been "true" positions. Instead of being sited to the south, some of them were slightly offset to the southwest. According to Posnansky, that offset indicated that the site lines were from a time when the stones were aligned with true south.