This is the ancient site many consider to be the planet's most intriguing. This is the one for which debunkheads have no answer. The stone works found at Pumapunku – a section of the remote Tiwanaku site, 13,000 feet above sea level in Bolivia – would not exist and could not exist without advanced technology.
At first glance, the ruins of the Pumapunku (“Gate of the Puma”) do not look like much – just a collection of very large, deteriorated monolithic blocks, many of them H-shaped with grooves, some stacked or roughly aligned, and the remainder strewn among clumps of grass and dirt on an uneven mound. In its day, the Pumapunku may have been magnificent – but there is no recorded history, and much of what was once there has been looted and carried away through the centuries.
Along the eastern edge of the Pumapunku lies the Plataforma Litica, a terrace paved with some of the most enormous stone blocks in the world. The largest of these are two red sandstone blocks weighing 131 tons and 85 tons, respectively. The blocks were quarried more than 6 miles away and somehow transported to Pumapunku. The Plataforma Litica is 127 feet long, 22 feet wide, and remarkably smooth. If you did not know any better, you might conclude this would be an ideal landing surface for heavy aircraft. (But of course, there were no aircraft in pre-Columbian South America – right?)
Upon closer examination, however, the true wonder of Pumapunku reveals itself – the wonder of technological precision.
The blocks are not made of Play-Doh. They are made of andesite, a volcanic mineral with a composition comparable to granite. They are very hard. And yet they have been shaped, cut, drilled, grooved, and smoothed with a laser-like exactness that ancient workers with chisels could not possibly have achieved.
Interior corners are razor sharp and the surfaces are exactly perpendicular. The lines and grooves are dead-on straight. Holes bored into the rock are perfectly circular and run deep and uniform, even though many have a diameter less than that of a small coin. And interestingly, the side walls of the cavities in the giant H-blocks are not parallel – they form a dovetail shape, strongly suggesting the blocks were designed to interlock tightly with other stone objects of comparable or larger size. As if all that were not enough, scientists have discovered many of the blocks have been strangely magnetized.
The stonework at Pumapunku shows every sign of advanced industrial machining technology. Although archaeologists have found no tools – primitive or modern – at the site, there is no other reasonable explanation for how the wonders of Pumapunku came to be.
Or is there?
Geopolymer chemistry was invented by, and represents the lifelong work of, French materials scientist Joseph Davidovits. Just as liquid metals, plastics, and concrete are shaped and hardened into usable forms today, Geopolymer Theory proposes that the ancients may have found ways to create close liquid substitutes for various minerals and poured them into molds, where they hardened into precisely shaped stones. This theory has been offered as an explanation for how the Egyptians built the Great Pyramid – perhaps the massive limestone blocks were not lugged hundreds of feet up but were instead poured in place.
Looking at Pumapunku’s flawless stonework, you cannot help but wonder if it was somehow prefabricated. Davidovits and his team obviously thought so and, from 2015 through 2018, conducted an intensive petrographic study of monumental stones from the Pumapunku site. Many samples from both the sandstone megaliths and andesite blocks were analyzed using a scanning electron microscope. The study found organic matter throughout the samples (a virtual impossibility if the samples were genuine volcanic rock) and pointed to the mind-boggling conclusion that Pumapunku’s stones were man-made.
The answer to Pumapunku’s riddle may be advanced machining or it may be geopolymers, but Pumapunku is a wonder of ancient technology either way.
Most scientists believe Pumapunku dates back about 1,500 years. But Arthur Posnansky (1873-1946), one of the first archaeologists who studied Pumapunku in depth, believed it was approximately 17,000 years old. If Carbon-14 tests can be performed on the organic samples found inside Pumapunku’s stones, we may soon know the true age of this incredible site.