Daily Archives: August 20, 2013

Tiwanaku, the still unknown Andean empire that bequeathed their culture

EFE reports in El Deber:

Tiwanaku, the still unknown Andean empire that bequeathed their culture

2013-08-18 09.37.42 pmThe pre-Hispanic Empire of Tiahuanaco was the first in the Andes, remained as such half a Millennium and bequeathed their political, economic and social culture to the Incas, but its greatness remains ignored.

According to Bolivian historian Patricia Montaño, author of the Empire of Tiahuanaco, a work written in simple language to reach the public, summarizing the work of archaeologist Carlos Ponce Sanjinés (1925-2005), who was her husband for 17 years.

“Tiahuanaco is well-studied, but unfortunately the people know very little about the importance of this civilization,” which had its main city 71 kilometers from La Paz, the author told EFE.

There are the Kalasasaya Temple, the Puerta del Sol, the Templete Semisubterráneo, remains of the pyramid Akapana, palatial homes and military enclosures and stone sculptures of its Hierarchs, monuments to whose study Ponce Sanjines devoted his life.

Paradoxically, according to Montano, Bolivians know more of the Empire of the Incas to that of the tiahuanacotans, without understanding these latter, who left a cultural legacy to the inhabitants of Cuzco.

In its decline, the tihuanacotas disintegrated into Aymara manors, recoiling in their organization, but a group of the ruling aristocracy migrated to the area of Cuzco, “taking with them their cultural tradition and knowledge of political organization”.

“There, their descendants created the Inca Dominion that eventually become an empire of similar characteristics to the Tiahuanaco”, says Montano, supported by quotations taken from ancient chroniclers as Bernabé Cobo and Waman Puma de Ayala.

“The incas were heirs of the political, economic and social institutions of the tiahuanacotans to a large extent, but also received cultural elements of Moche and Nazca,” he said.

In their moment of glory the tiahuanacotans, by peaceful means or by war, occupied part of the coast of Peru, the North of Chile, the Northwest of Argentina and came to the East of Bolivia, in an area estimated at 600,000 square kilometers, one area greater than Spain.

Ponce applied the method of carbon 14, to remains of pottery discovered in the excavations and established the chronology of the life of Tiahuanaco, since it was a village until its fall as Empire due to internal warfare and a devastating drought.

Tiahuanaco was born as a village around 1580 B.c., grew as a local State in 133 ad, as State regional in 374 BC and imperial in 724 ad and declined about 1187 a.d..

This was one of the scientific findings of Ponce who put “in evidence foreign authors errors”, says Montano.

It was a mistake, adds the author, to have attributed Tiwanako as being ten thousand years old as did Arthur Posnasky and also to the Peruvian Alfredo Torero who considered the puquina as tiwanacota language.

Tiahuanaco was multi-ethnic and plurilingual because there talked in aymara, quechua, uru and puquina, but the first of these languages was the dominant one.

Montano cites Ernst Middendorf, Max Ulhe, David Browman and Sabine Dedenbach reflections on expansion in pre-Hispanic times of Aymara, which originally was called “jakearu” and which today is still a living language in part of Bolivia and Peru.

Ponce also investigated the tiahuanacotans knowledge about astronomy, engineering, architecture, and agriculture; he described its monuments and restored them, but also provided a new data to establish that Tiahuanaco had at least 49 Governors in its political history.

The latter was the product of an interpretation of the work “Histories and political memoirs of the Peru” by the Spanish chronicler Fernando de Montesinos (1644), which quoted 105 Inca monarchs, but among those who supposedly are from the previous cultures.

The incas had only twelve known monarchs.

According to Montano, Ponce discovered that 49 rulers of the list had names of aymara origin translated into quechua, but when taken back to their mother tongue,  names like T’itu K’apaca equal to “Sublime head of State” or Sinti Apu (Prince Valiant).

This is another proof of the link between Tiahuanaco and the Aymara.

Source: EFE


I think Tiwanacu [I used different ways to write its name, across the translation above and here, to reflect how even its name is not agreed upon scholars] is for the Incas, what the Greeks are for the Romans… I believe there is still lots to be discovered and studied, however, one thing is certain, all the great Inca’s architecture is nothing but Tiwanacu’s know-how… and as such we should learn more.

Too much to learn, to discover… that is the wonder of Tiwanacu and we are now sharing the same space as Bolivia!

I commend a Santa Cruz newspaper like El Deber to make this public, another reason to consider this newspaper as national over just a local one. Those who believe Santa Cruz people don’t like the west of Bolivia, are just plain stupid.