by Helmut Zettl

from LostCivilizations Website



Cradled 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 cornmeal.


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 Indians.

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 determined. 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 of 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 flood stage.

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

  • 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 be 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" (volcanism), 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 society.

Pondering 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 few 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.


As Boero Rojo stated, the discovery of Aymara structures under the waters of Lake Titicaca could pose entirely new thesis 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.


Professor Schindler-Bellamy 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 subject.

According to 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.)

Professor Schindler-Bellamy 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 Dr. 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 Tiahuanaco, published in 1956. Thorough analysis of the Sun Gate 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.

The "solar 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.


These groupings (290, 24, 12, 2) are clearly and unmistakably shown in the sculpture. The explanation of 290 versus 3651/4 days cannot be discussed here. At the time Tiahuanaco flourished the present moon was not yet the companion of 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 ! ).

A 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.

We must take notice of the evident parallels with the markings of the Nazca 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 design work 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 tempted to think all these Nazca 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.

The most 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 Gate.


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, and 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.

The 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-fifth 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 a "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 earthquake!). The 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: Faber, 1956.

  • The Moon 's Myths and Man. London: Faber.

  • Theldol of Tiahtxanaco. London: Faber, 1959.

  • The Atlantis Myth. London: Faber, 1948.