Tiwanaku the City That Time Forgot

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Text of Tiwanaku the City That Time Forgot

Tiwanaku - a city lost in time. Part 2

Above, old photograph of the Gate of the Sun, (Stubel 1892.) In this photo, the base of the monument is already covered by several feet of soiland the two halves of the gate are misaligned. The gate is said to have been at one time hit by lightning, splitting it into two parts as above. However, according to Posnansky VIII "This break was not caused by a thunderbolt, as people suppose, but rather was certainly made by the celebrated commissions of the clergy already mentioned, which travelled through the Altiplano with the apparant intent of destroying all the objects, inscriptions and sculptures which had any connection with the ancient cult and religious beliefs of the aborigines, but who were nothing more than vulgar treasure seekers. ... 'Whatever can be burned is burned, the rest is broken'."

Above, old photograph of the Gate of the Sun. The two halves of the gate are misaligned. In this photo, the base of the monument is already covered by several feet of soil.

Above, Gate of the Sun as it appeared to George Squier, 1877. Squier informes us that when D'Orbigny visited the monument in 1833, it had at that time already fallen down. Squier gives these dimensions... "13 feet 5 inches long, 7 feet 2 inches high above-ground, and 18 inches thick. Through its centre is cut a door-way, 4 feet 6 inches high, and 2 feet 9 inches wide." "Above this doorway, and as it now stands on its south-east side or front, are four lines of sculpture in low-relief, like the Egyptian plain sculptures, and a central figure, immediately over the doorway, sculptured in high-relief. ...The stone itself is a dark and exceedingly hard trachyte. It is faced with a precision that no skill can excel ; its lines are perfectly drawn, and its right angles turned with an accuracy that the most careful geometer could not surpass. Barring some injuries and defacements, and some slight damages by weather, I do not believe there exists a better piece of stone -cutting, the material considered, on this or the other continent. The front, especially the part covered by sculpture, has a fine finish, as near a true polish as trachyte can be made to bear. The lower line of sculpture is 7 inches broad, and is unbroken ; the three above it are 8 inches high, cut up in cartouches or squares, of equal width, but interrupted in the centre, immediately over the door-way, by the figure in high-relief to which I have alluded. This figure, with its ornaments, covers a space of 32 by 21 inches. There are consequently three ranges or tiers of squares on each side of this figure, eight in each range, or forty-eight in all. The figures represented in these squares have human bodies, feet, and hands ; each holds a sceptre ; they are winged ; but the upper and lower series have human heads wearing crowns, represented in profile, while the heads of the sixteen figures in the line between them have the heads of condors." See also page on Tiwanaku CubitsWe can note that in the time of Squier, the two broken halves of the monument are misaligned and it is also substantially buried in the earth, so his figure for the height of the monument and the height of the doorway does not take this into account. Also his estimated width of 13 ft 5 ins appears to be too wide, compared to analysis of modern photographs. On Squier's map of the site, the monument occupies the same position as it does today. Squier - "I very much question if this remarkable stone occupies its original position. How far it has sunk in the ground it was impossible for me to determine, for the earth was frozen hard, and we had no means of digging down to ascertain. D'Orbigny, as I have already said, states it was fallen when he visited it. Who has since raised it, and for what purpose, it is impossible to say. No one that we could find either knew or cared to know anything about it. It seems to me not unlikely that it had a position in the hollow square of the structure called the Temple, in some building corresponding with that called the Hall of Justice."

Above, George Squier's plan of Tiwanaku 1877. Posnansky says that the Gate of the Sun was originally found laying face down on the ground, which helped protect the carved figures from erosion. " The Sun Door which was found lying on its face on the ground, has been preserved in wonderful condition with all its inscriptions; but its back, and especially the end exposed to the adverse atmospheric conditions, shows an enormous wearing away. It should be pointed out that the block from which this notable monument was carved, is composed of andesitic hornblende, vitreous and very hard lava, which, polished as it was in that period, required several thousands of years to wear away in the form in which we see it today." According to one report, in 1825 Jose Antonio de Sucre - Bolivia's second president and liberator - ordered the Gateway of the Sun at Tiwanaku to be dug out of the ground and raised as symbolic of the new nation (Ponce 1981). The following photo shows the gate being dug out in 1903.

Above, Gate of the Sun being dug out of ground by French expedition headed by Count G de Crqui-Montfort 1903. The photo shows the reverse of the monument with its depth below ground and the two halves misaligned.

Above, reverse of the Gate of the Sun, reconstruction envisaged by Edmund Kiss, 1937.

Above, the French mission of 1903 headed by Count G de Crqui-Montfort, carried out excavations at Tiwanaku. Many of the pieces uncovered by them were subsequently carried off by local people and the destruction continued even up to the time of Posnansky, so that little of what was uncovered in 1903 exists today.

Above, excavations at Tiwanaku 1903. It is hard to imagine such a great city existed here and that most of the stones above ground were carried off or smashed to provide ballast for the nearby railway line.

Above, pedestal excavated at Tiwanaku 1903.

Above, Gate of the Sun being dug out of ground by French expedition headed by Count G de Crqui-Montfort 1903. The photo shows the face of the monument with the sculptures highlighted with chalk.

Above, Gate of the Sun in old time photo. In this photo the two broken halves of the gate have been realigned, presumably after re-setting by the French mission. Chasqui icons in three rows can be clearly seen forming a block of three rows of five on either side of the central figure and eleven smaller icons in the freize underneath. The design then repeats itself as if to be continued on additional walls to the side which no longer exists.

Above, old time photo of the Sun Gate, it appears to have stones either side, probably a corral wall was built around it as this time.

Above, detail of the Gate of the Sun showing the Chasqui figures in three rows, part of the freize underneath and the central figure on the right in this photo

Above, the Sun Gate today.

Above, detail of the calendar icons showing the central weeping figure, the chasquis in rows of three and the lower freize with 11 icons representing the 11 pillars of the calendar wall.. This panel measures 100" wide according to H.S. Bellamy. This could be interpretated as 4 x sacred cubits of 25", or as five cubits of 20" wide.

Above, detail of the lower freize by Stubel, 1892.

Above, detail of the lower freize by Stubel, 1892. The left hand icon represents the left hand pillar on the calendar wall, when the sun reached this pillar it would be the time of the solstice, the sun would appear to stand still on the horizon before beginning its journey northwards, it was a time of festival as marked by the trumpeter.

Above, detail of the solstice trumpeters, drawing of H.S. Bellamy.

Above, detail of the freize icons, based on drawings of H.S. Bellamy.

Above, detail of the freize icons, based on drawings of H.S. Bellamy.

Above, detail of the central Viracocha icon, drawing of H.S. Bellamy.

Above, reconstruction from Edmund Kiss (1937) of how the Gate of the Sun may have been incorporated into a wall and was part of an entrance within the Kalasasaya compound. Note the number of chasquis with ten in each row per side and a total of 60 chasquis - so if each chasqui represents one year, the total number of sixty chasquis represents the "Great Century" of the Muisca calendar, and an extra lunar month was added to the calendar at the end of each 30 year period.

Above, in the preceeding reconstruction by Edmund Kiss (1937) the upper rows of chasquis did not balance with the 11 chasqui heads on the lower freize since there was a portion of the lower freize left over at each end, however we can extend them in Paintshop so that now there are 30 chasquis in each horizontal row, each row on the upper portion representing a period of 30 years after which an extra sidereal month had to be added to balance the calendar giving 401 sidereal months as equal to 30 solar years.. On the lower freize, there are now 3 x complete sections of 11 chasqui heads, each section representing one year and each three year period being equal to 40 sidereal lunar months represented by 40 condor heads on the freize. The width of the carved panels now occupies a space of 300" or 10 great cubits of 30" or 12 sacred cubits of 25" or 15 x cubits of 20" (25 English feet).

Above, reconstruction of how the west wall of inner compound could accommodate 25 of the sculptured panels, based upon a modified drawing of Edmund Kiss (1937) and using width of terrace measurement recorded by Posnansky. The position of a viewing stone for observing the setting sun over the calendar wall is also marked.

Above, George Squier measured the little figures called Chasquis and found them to be about 8 inches square. So each chasqui would be about 12 shusi square, that is if in S