Five minutes from the community of Tiquina, on the margins of Lake Titicaca, archaeologists discovered the submerged remains of an ancient civilization.
Christopher Delaere, an archaeologist from the Free University of Belgium, made the discovery ten years ago by following residents’ tips. According to the BBC, 24 submerged archaeological locations have been discovered beneath the lake.
Santiago de Ojjelaya is the most significant of these sites, and the Bolivian government has recently consented to construct a museum there to preserve both the underwater and land-based structures.
The endeavor is expected to be completed in 2020 at an estimated cost of $10 million. The initiative is funded by the Bolivian government with assistance from UNESCO and support from the Belgian development cooperation agency.
The proposed structure will have two sections and encompass an area of approximately 9,360 square feet (2.3 acres). A portion of the museum will be located on the shore and will feature artifacts recovered from the lakebed. The second section will be partially submerged, with immense glass walls allowing visitors to see the “hidden city” beneath the water.
Ancient Tiwanaku pottery is on display at the Ethnologicals Museum in Berlin-Dahlem.
According to the Bolivia Travel Channel, the museum will facilitate the launch of an archaeological tourism enterprise, which “will be a resort and archaeology research centre, geology and biology, characteristics that make it unique in the world,” according to Wilma Alanoca Mamani, the Plurinational State’s portfolio holder.
Christophe Delaere stated that the building’s design incorporates elements of the Andean cultures’ architectural styles.
The director of heritage for Bolivia’s Ministry of Culture, Jose Luis Paz, says that when the building is completed, two types of underwater ruins will be visible: religious/spiritual offering sites, which are primarily underwater, and places where people lived and worked, which were primarily on the shore. He continued by stating that the spiritual sites were probably submerged much later than the settlements.
Chullpas of the Tiwanaku period.
In the underwater locations, a team of archaeologists, divers, and Bolivian and Belgian specialists have discovered thousands of artifacts. Some of these artifacts will be brought to the surface, but the vast majority will remain submerged because they are so well-preserved.
Wilma Mamani stated that over 10,000 objects, including gold and ceramic fragments, bowls, and other receptacles, have been discovered.
The artifacts are from pre-Inca Tiwanaku cultures. Some of the artifacts are estimated to be 2,000 years old, while others trace back to the time when the Tiwanaku empire was one of the most important Andean civilizations.
The 1877 drawing of Tiwanaku’s Sungate by Ephraim Squier.
Tiwanaku was a significant civilization in Bolivia, with its capital city constructed approximately 4,000 meters above sea level near Lake Titicaca, making it one of the world’s highest urban centres.
During its apogee between 500 and 1000 A.D., the city was home to approximately 10,000 inhabitants. It is unknown precisely when the civilization began, but it is known that people began establishing around Lake Titicaca around 2,000 BCE.
The Tiwanaku civilization’s Sungate, located in Bolivia.
Archaeological evidence suggests that Tiwanaku cultural influence extended across the southern Andes, into Argentina, Peru, and Chile, as well as Bolivia, according to Live Science. The ancient name of the city is obscure because it was never written down.
The decline of Tiwanaku began around the year 1000 A.D., and the city was eventually abandoned. Even after it fell out of use, the Andean people regarded it as a sacred site in their mythology.
In addition to the obvious advantages of being able to research and share the artifacts of ancient civilizations, the endeavor has an additional advantage. The majority of current residents make their livelihood through agriculture or fisheries.
This initiative offers the possibility of new jobs for local residents, which can prevent people from fleeing the area due to a lack of employment opportunities, thereby assisting in the revitalization of local communities.