Tiahuanaco and the Deluge
in the basin of the Peruvian-Bolivian altiplano, the
Titicaca region is currently densely populated by the Aymara Indians,
who eke out an agricultural existence, subsisting primarily on maize,
frozen potatoes, and chicha, a fermented alcoholic beverage made of
But there is evidence that such was not always the case. Just
12 miles southward of the southernmost tip of Lake Titicaca lie the
remains of Tiahuanaco, the site of a technologically advanced culture
considered by many archaeologists (romantic not orthodox) to be the oldest
ruins in the world. Although some misguided scholars have attributed the
buildings of Tiahuanaco to the Incas, it has now been established that
the city was already in ruins when the first Incas came upon the scene.
In 1540 the Spanish chronicler,
Pedro Cieza de Leon, visited
the area and his description of the statues and monoliths compares very
closely to what we see today. The site is at an altitude of 13,300 feet,
which places it some 800 feet above the present level of Lake Titicaca.
Most archaeologists agree that in the distant past Tiahuanaco was a
flourishing port at the edge of the lake, which means that the water has
receded almost 12 miles and has dropped about 800 feet since then. All
concur that the lake is shrinking, due mainly to evaporation, since no
rivers flow from it.
The Tiahuanaco culture, as
it is called, is unique in its sculpture
and its style of stone construction. The figures depicted in the statuary
have a rather square head with some covering like a helmet; they have
square eyes and a rectangular mouth. The stone works at the ruins consist
of such structures as the Gate of the Sun, a portal carved from a single
block of stone weighing 15 tons. The stone steps of the Kalasasaya, each
of which is a rectangular block of stone about 30 feet wide; the so-called
"idols," which are giant about 23 feet tall representatives of unusual
looking beings with typical Tiahuanaco head and trace; and the enormous
monolithic stone blocks, many of which appear to have been cast rather
than carved, are some of these unusual features.
At the area called Puma Punku,
which is about 1 mile distant from
the principal part of the ruins, the gigantic stones are bluish-gray in
color and appear to have been "machined," and they have a metallic ring
when tapped by a rock. There is also a reddish "rust" or oxidation covering
many of the stones. Many of these enormous stone blocks probably have not
been moved since they fell thousands of years ago. Archaeologists however
speculate that the stones were dressed, but never erected that the
construction for which they were intended was interrupted. It is equally
valid, however, to assume that the buildings were completed and then
toppled by some natural catastrophe, such as the eruption of the Andes
mountain chain or a world-wide deluge.
It is interesting to observe
the archaeological excavation work,
which is under way at the site. At this altitude of 13,300 feet some of the
remains are found at a level 6 feet below the earth's surface. The mountain
ranges which surround the area are not high enough to permit sufficient
runoff of water or wind erosion to have covered the ruins to such a depth.
This remains a mystery.
Legends have persisted over
the centuries that there are stone
structures beneath the waters of Lake Titicaca, much the same kind as can be
found on the lake's shore. The Indians of that legion have frequently
recounted this tradition, but until recently there has been no proof of
such structures. In 1968 Jacques Cousteau, the French underwater explorer,
took his crew and equipment there to explore the lake and search for
evidence of underwater construction. Although severely hampered in their
activities by the extreme altitude, the divers spent many days searching the
lake bottom, in the vicinity of the islands of the Sun and Moon, but found
nothing man-made. Cousteau concluded the legends were a myth.
Recently in November 1980, however, the well known Bolivian author
and scholar of pre-Columbian cultures, Hugo Boero Rojo, announced the
finding of archaeological ruins beneath Lake Titicaca about 15 to 20 meters
below the surface off the coast of Puerto Acosta, a Bolivian port village
near the Peruvian frontier on the northeast edge of the lake. Based upon
information furnished by Elias Mamani. a native of the region who is over
100 years old, Boero Rojo and two Puerto Ricans cinematographers, Ivan and
Alex Irrizarry, were able to locate the ruins after extensive exploration of
the lake bottom in the area, while filming a documentary on the nearby
At a press conference the Bolivian author stated "we can now say
that the existence of pre-Columbian constructions under the waters of Lake
Titicaca is no longer a mere supposition or science-fiction, but a real fact.
Further," he added, 'the remnants found show the existence of old
civilizations that greatly antecede the Spanish colonization. We have found
temples built of huge blocks of stone, with stone roads leading to unknown
places and flights of steps whose bases were lost in the depths of the lake
amid a thick vegetation of algae." Boero Rojo described these monumental
ruins as being "of probable Tiahuanaco origin.'
The Polish-born Bolivian archaeologist
Arturo Posnansky has
concluded that the Tiahuanaco culture began in the region at about 1600 B.C. and flourished until at least 1200 A.D. His disciple, Professor Hans
Schindler-Bellamy, believed Tiahuanaco to have reached back 12,000 years
before the present era, although a more conservative Peruvian archaeologist.
Professor Kaufmann-Doihg, dates the site's flourishing at about 300-900 A.D.
What happened to the advanced ancient culture, however, has not yet been
Boero Rojo's discovery nevertheless
may prove to create more problems
than it solves. If, over the past 3 or 4000 years Lake Titicaca has slowly
receded, as appears to be the case-as all scientists agree, then how can we
explain the existence of stone temples, stairways, and roads still under
water'? The only answer is that they were built before the lake materialized.
We must go back, then, to the remnants of Tiahuanaco and reexamine the more than 400 acres of ruins, only 10 percent of which have been excavated.
We have pointed out that dirt covers the ancient civilization to a depth of
at least 6 feet. The only explanation for this accumulation is water.
A large amount of water had to have inundated the city; when it
receded it left the silt covering all evidence of an advanced civilization,
leaving only the largest statues and monoliths still exposed. It is logical
to conclude, therefore, that Tiahuanaco was built before the lake was
created, and not as a port on its shore. As the waters today continue to
recede, we should be able to find more evidence of the city's remote peoples.
Scientists theorize that the area ot Lake Titicaca was at one time at sea
level, because of the profusion of fossilized marine life which can be found
in the region. The area then lifted with the Andean upheaval and a basin
was created which filled in to form the lake. No one has suggested the marine
life might have been brought to the altiplano by sea waters which were at
Peruvian legends clearly relate a story of world-wide flood in the
distant past. Whether it was the biblical flood of Noah, or another one, we
cannot say, but there is ample physical evidence of a universal inundation,
with the world-wide deluge described in more than a hundred flood-myths.
Along with Noah's flood were the Babylonian Utnapischtim of the Gilgamesh
epic, the Sumerian Ziusudra, the Persian Jima, the Indian Manu, the Maya
Coxcox, the Colombian Bochica, the Algonkin's Nanabozu, the Crows' Coyote, the Greek Deukalion and Pyrrha, the Chinese Noah Kuen, and the Polynesian Tangaloa. It is evident there was a world-wide deluge 19,000 years ago.
(Global doomsdays are conspicuous in the Hopi Indian legends, the Finnish
Kalevala epic, the Mayan Chilam Balam and Popol Vuh, and in the Aztec
calendar, the last of which predicts that our present civilization will
destroyed by "nahuatl Olin" or "earth movement," that is, devastation by
earthquake. Due to Aztec cyclic theory this will become the fifth doomsday
after the "death of the Jaguars," "the death of the Tempests," "the death of
the Great Fire" (vulcanism), and "the Great Deluge."
If a flourishing
advanced civilization existed on the Peruvian
altiplano many thousands of years ago and was reached by the flood waters,
many problems would be solved, such as the existence of Tiahuanaco's ruins
under 6 feet of earth at an elevation of 13,300 feet. The presence of stone
structures still under the lake's waters and the existence of marine life
at an impossible altitude would also make sense.
In my 1978 and 1984 trips
to Peru I was impressed by agricultural
terracing on the sides and very tops of the steep peaks. These appear to be
the oldest—and now unused-portions of the terracing. As you look down the
mountains you see more and more terraces of more recent origin. We are told
that only the Inca (specifically the Sapai Inca, i.e. the ruler) could use
the lower portions and the fertile valleys; the "peons" had to climb to the
very peaks to cultivate the soil for their own subsistence. This seems
highly unlikely in what we know to have been a pure communistic-theocratic
the logistics involved, I see no problem with the spring
planting. It would not be difficult to carry a sack of seed to the mountain
tops, scratch out some of the soil, and plant them. But then, I wondered,
it must have been very tough in the fall to carry the harvest 2 to 3000 feet
down to the valley floor. Then it struck me. If there really had been a
world-wide deluge covering most of the earth's surface—leaving only mountain tops protruding in the sunlight—then the tew remaining survivors of the deluge would naturally plant their seeds on mountain tops. They had no problem getting produce down, because they lived at the top. Also, they
used boats to move from one peak to another. As the flood waters receded the
terracing began to creep down the mountain sides, as can be seen today,
with the ones near the bottom being the freshest.
Boero Rojo stated, "the discovery of Aymara structures under the
waters of Lake Titicaca could pose entirely new theses on the disappearance
of an entire civilization, which, for some unknown reason, became submerged.
The Tiahuanacans could have been victims of world-wide flood, their
civilization all but wiped out when their homes and structures were covered
with sea water. Because of the basin-like geography of the area the flood
waters that became Lake Titicaca could not run off and have only gradually
evaporated over the centuries.
as a disciple of Posnansky and Horbiger
(who created the world famous (Glacial-Cosmogony theory in the 1930's) has
worked dozens of years in the Tiahuanaco area and has written books on the
him the large monolithic Sun Gate of Tiahuanaco was
evidently originally the centerpiece of the most important part of the
so-called Kalasasaya, the huge chief temple of Tiahuanaco. Its upper part
is covered with a stupendously intricate sculpture in flat bas relief.
This has been described as a "calendar" almost as long as the monolithic
gateway has been known to exist; thus the Sun Gate has also been called
"the Calendar Gate. This calendar sculpture, though it undoubtedly depicts
a "solar year," cannot however be made to fit into the solar year as we
divide it at present. After many futile attempts had been made, by employing
a Procrustean chopping off of toes or heels to make the calendar work, the
sculpture-which indeed has a highly decorative aspect-was eventually
declared generally to be nothing but an intricate piece of art.
(See Arturo Posnansky and F. Buck.)
and the American astronomer Allen have
nevertheless continued to insist the sculpture was a calendar, though one of
a special kind, designed for special purpose, and, of course, for a special
time. Hence it must refer exclusively to the reckoning of that time, and to
certain events occurring then. Consequently we cannot make the calendar
"speak" in terms of our own time, but let it speak for itself—and listen to
what it says and learn from it. When we do so we gain an immense insight
into the world of the people of that era, into the manner of thinking of
their intellectuals, and generally into the way their craftsmen and laborers
lived and worked.
To describe these things in
detail would make a long story; it took
l)r. Allen and Professor Schindler-Bellamy and their helpers many years of
hard work to puzzle out the Tiahuanaco system of notation and its symbology,
and to make the necessary calculations (before the age of computers). The
result was a book of over 400 pages, The Calendar of Tishuanaco, published
Thorough analysis of the Sun
(Sate sculpture revealed the astonishing
fact that the calendar is not a mere list of days for the "man in the
street" of the Tiahuanaco of that time, telling him the dates of market
days or holy days; it is actually, and pre-eminently a unique depository of
astronomical, mathematical, and scientific data- the quintessence of the
knowledge of the bearers of Tiahuanacan culture.
The enormous amount of information the calendar has been made to
contain-and to impart to anyone ready and able to read it is communicated in
a way that is, once the system of notation has been grasped, singularly
lucid and intelligible, "counting by units of pictorial or abstract form.
The different forms of those units attribute special, very definite and
important additional meanings to them, and make them do double or multiple duty. By means of that method "any number" can be expressed without employing definite "numerals" whose meaning might be difficult, if not impossible, to establish. It is only necessary to recognize the units and consider their forms, and find their groupings, count them out, and render the result in our own numerical notation.
Some of the results seem to
be so unbelievable that superficial
critics have rejected them as mere arrant nonsense. But they are too well
dove-tailed and geared into the greater system (and in some cases supported by peculiar repetitions and cross-references) to be discarded in disgust; one has to accept them as correct. Whoever rejects them, however, also accepts the onus of offering a better explanation, and Professor Schindler-Bellamy has the "advantage of doubt," at any rate.
year" of the calendar's time had very practically the
same length as our own, but, as shown symbolically by the sculpture, the
earth revolved more quickly then, making the Tiahuanacan year only 290 days, divided into 12 "twelfths" of 94 days each, plus 2 intercalary days. Tilese groupings (290, 24, 12, 2) are clearly and unmistakably shown in the
sculpture. The explanation of 290 versus 3651/4 days cannot be discussed
At the time Tiahuanaco flourished
the present moon was not yet
the companion ol our earth but was still an independent exterior planet.
There was another satellite moving around our earth then, rather close-5.9
terrestrial radii, center to center; our present moon being at 60 radii.
Because of its closeness it moved around the earth more quickly than our
planet rotated. Therefore it rose in the west and set in the east (like Mars'
satellite Phobos), and so caused a great number of solar eclipses, 37 in
one "twelfth," or 447 in one "solar year " of course it caused an equal
number of satellite eclipses. These groupings (37, 447) are shown in the
sculpture, with many Corroborating cross-references. Different symbols show
when these solar eclipses, which were of some duration, occurred: at
sunrise, at noon, at sunset.
These are only a small sample
of the exact astronomical information
the calendar gives. It also gives the beginning of the year, the days of the
equinoxes and solstices, the incidence of the two intercalary days,
information on the obliquity of the eliptic (then about 16.5 degrees; now
23.5) and on Tiahuanaco's latitude (then about 10 degrees; now 16.27), and
many other astronomical and geographical references from which interesting and important data may be calculated or inferred by us. Tiahuanacan scientists certainly knew, for instance, that the earth was a globe which rotated on its axis (not that the sun moved over a flat earth), because they calculated exactly the times of eclipses not visible at Tiahuanaco but visible in the opposite hemisphere (One wonders whether they were actually able to travel around the world, and speculate in what sort of vessel ! )
few more facts revealed in the calendar are both interesting and
surprising As indicated by an arrangement of "geometrical" elements we can
ascertain that the Tiahuanacans divided the circle factually astronomically,
but certainly mathematically} into 264 degrees (rather than 360). Also,
they determined-ages before Archimedes and the Egyptians the ratio of pi,
the most important ratio between the circumference of the circle and its
diameter, as 22/7, or, in our notation, 3.14+. They could calculate squares
(and hence, square roots). They knew trigonometry and the measuring of angles (30, 60, 90 degrees) and their functions- They could calculate and indicate fractions, but do not seem to have known the decimal system nor did they apparently ever employ the duodecimal system though they were aware of it. (For a still unknown reason, however, the number 11 and its multiples occur often.) They were able to draw absolutely straight lines and exact right angles, but no mathematical instruments have yet been found.
must take notice of the evident parallels with the markings of
the Nasca Plain. We do not know the excellent tools they must have used for
working the glass-hard andesite stone of their monuments, cutting, polishing,
and incising. They must have employed block and tackle for lifting and
transporting great loads (up to 200 tons) over considerable distances and
even over expanses of water from the quarries to the construction sites.
It is difficult to see how
all the calculations, planning, and
designwork involved in producing the great city of Tiahuanaco could have
been done without some form of writing, and without a system of notation
different from the "unit" system of the calendar sculpture. If they had
such a system they must have used it only on perishable materials. (One is
Lempted to think all these Nasca markings had been constructed by Atlanteans who fled to the altiplano before or after the destruction of their island continent 12,000 years ago.)
I have so far dealt with some
of the aspects of the Tiahuanacan
world, namely those connected with the calendar as a monument of what
Schindler-Bellamy describes as "fossilized science." But the calendar
science-sculpture, and similar slightly older ones also found at the site,
must also be regarded and appreciated from an aesthetic point of view, a
great artistic achievement in design and execution-and an absolute
masterpiece of arrangement and layout.
tantalizing fact of all is that the Tiahuanaco culture has
no roots in that area. It did not grow there from humbler beginnings, nor is
any other place of origin known. It seems to have appeared practically full
blown suddenly. Only a few "older" monuments, as can be inferred from the
"calendrical inscriptions" they bear, have been found, but the difference in
time cannot have been very great. The different-much lower cultures
discovered at considerable distances from Tiahuanaco proper, addressed as
"Decadent Tiahuacan" or as "Coastal Tiahuanaco," are only very indirectly
related to the culture revealed by the Calendar Cate. Some of their painted
symbols are somehow somewhat related to the calendar symbols, but they make no sense whatever; they are, if anything, purely ornamental
Tiahuanaco apparently remained for only a very short period at its
acme of perfection (evidenced by the Calendar Gate) and perished suddenly,
perhaps through the cataclysmic happenings connected with the breakdown of the former "moon." We have at present no means of determining when Tiahuanaco rose to supreme height. or when its culture was obliterated, asn naturally, the calendar itself can tell us nothing about that. It will certainly not have been in the historical past but well back in the prehistoric. It must
indeed have occurred before the planet Luna was captured as the earth's
present moon, about 12,000 years ago.
capture of the satellite and its later fall to the surface on
our planet imposed great stresses on the earth. The gravitational pull
caused floods and earthquakes until the moon settled into a stable orbit
one-fift}l of today's distance. Hence the "moon" draws the oceans into a
belt or bulge around the equator, drowning the equatorial region but leaving
the polar lands high and dry. When the satellite approached within a few
thousand miles gravitational forces broke it up; according to the Roche
formula each planetoid or asteroid disintegrates when approaching the
critical distance of 50 to 60,000 kms. The fragments shattered down on
earth; the oceans, released from the satellite's gravity, flowed back
toward the continents, exposing tropical lands and submerging polar
territories. This is the simple explanation of the Horbiger theory, and it
seems to me the most logical one.
Thus the approach of the "moon" caused a world-wide deluge, effecting
changes of climate and provoking earthquakes accompanied by volcanic
eruptions. The "ring" left by the satellite after breaking into fragments
caused a sudden drop in temperature of at least 20 degrees, which
geologists recognize as iia decline" in temperature. It is evident, for
example, in the discovery of frozen mammoths in the Siberian tundra.
Possibly gravity-and therefore physical weight—was also changed on earth,
and with it biological growth: this would explain the widespread
construction of huge megalithic monuments as well as the presence of
giants-man and animal-in fossil strata, tombs, and myths. According to
Horbiger four moons fell on earth, producing four Ice Ages; our present
moon, the fifth one, will similarly be drawn into the critical configuration
of one-fifth of its present distance (380,000 kms.) and will cause the
fifth cataclysm. (Remember the Aztec calendar's prediction of doomsday by
theory of a falling moon has recently been substantiated by Dr.
John O'Keefe, a scientist at the Coddard Laboratory for Astronomy in
Maryland. Dr. O'Keefe claims that the fragments of a moon's collision
formed a ring around our planet that could have kept the sun's rays from
penetrating to earth, thus causing world-wide decline of temperatures.
After a while the fragments showered down on earth, breaking into
smithereens known as tectites. These tectites O'Keefe believes were
fragments of the fallen moon, thus proving Horbiger 's "World-lce-Cosmology."
The record nevertheless shows
that a far-advanced culture made a
substantial attempt to plant its society at Tiahuanaco, wanting to revitalize
this region which had already been devastated by floods caused by the close
satellite. Their attempt eventually miscarried, because they had
underestimated certain dangerous developments that ultimately happened
contrary to all expectations and calculations. Such world-wide cataclysms
appear in myth, in the Egyptian Papyrus Ipuwer ("The sun set where it rose")
or the tomb of Senmut (showing Orion-Sirius painted in reverse position),
or in the Finnish Kalevala ("the earth turned round like a potter's wheel"),
or the Popol Vuh (describing fire showering down from heaven)—all of which
indicate that our planet more than once has suffered world-wide catastrophe.
The Calendar of Tiahuanaco. London:
The Moon 's Myths and Man. London: Faber.
Theldol of Tiahtxanaco. London: Faber, 1959.
The Atlantis Myth. London: Faber, 1948.
CULTURE BETWEEN ICEAGES
CATASTROPHIC MOUNTAIN UPLIFT
SCARS OF MARS
Articles from Catastrophism And Ancient History
are brought to you by The Thule Foundation