Dr. Jago Cooper is exploring a second lost civilization of South America in the Stone at the Center. They are from Bolivia and live in the Andes. They left behind a spectacular temple. This temple was the heart of this civilization. The temple stands at the height of 13,000 feet. This civilization lasted over 500 years even though the Andes provided a challenging environment. They should not have thrived, but they did. They are the Tiwanaku people.
The Tiwanaku used Llamas to help build their civilization in the mountains. They also took coca to help survive the thin air. Coca gave them the stamina to work at the height. Llama wool also gave them the clothing they needed to survive the cold air. The llama also provided transportation for the Tiwanaku. Llamas are uniquely built to survive the terrain. It was still a precarious existence for the people One frost could kill a crop.
The Tiwanaku culture grew up around Lake Titicaca. It is the highest navigable lake in the world. The lake provided a microclimate for a civilization to grow. The soil surrounding the lake was rich and farmers could grow their crops. They were groups of subsistence farmers that came together. These farmers discovered ways to farm outside of the Lake Titicaca basin. They raised their farm beds and used irrigation to protect their crops. They also performed careful maintenance on these beds. The Tiwanaku extended their growing seasons and increased crop production.
Rituals also drew the Tiwanaku together. It helped centralized civilization. They would come together to sacrifice llamas, drink, and dance. These celebrations help bring people together and they decided to build a temple, where they could meet for their celebrations. The temple provided a grand stage for the ritual and celebrations. The Tiwanaku moved the tones to the temple site and built a temple. Abandoned stones along the trails show what the Tiwanaku use the stones for.
How did the Tiwanaku move these stones? They used reed boats to move the stones. Archeologists believed that Tiwanaku was a practical people. They used their environment to their advantage. Villages could be persuaded to make large reed boats. In 2002, archaeologists put this theory into practice. They had a village build a large boat, loaded it up with a large stone, and sailed it to the Tiwanaku site. Villagers greeted them and took the rock off the boat. Cooper was surprised to see this result.
Cooper then explores how they moved 9-ton stones across the land. The archeologists believed that competition helped drive the temple building. They could not pay the villagers to move the stone, but when villages found out that one village was helping, they volunteered their services. This theory could be the explanation behind the temple building. One village would contribute one thing, another village would contribute another thing. They came together to build the temple. It is an interesting theory and perhaps it is a logical theory to how the temple was built.
After the temple was built, the Tiwanaku people then turned their attention to building a pyramid. It was the largest man-made object built in the Andes. It provided an excellent view of the temple site. So perhaps it was for the elite to view the temple site. Or it was a dedication to the mountains.
This is another excellent documentary in the Lost Civilizations series. If you were teaching an ancient history class, then I would show this series to the students. If you wanted filler for a substitute teacher, then you can have the sub show it. You are only limited by your imagination when it comes to using YouTube. If you want to continue to learn more about the Tiwanaku people, continue to watch the documentary.
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