Ancient Alignment in the Andes Hints at Lost Global High Culture
Words by: Dave Truman
In the 1970s the Dutch-Peruvian mathematician, Maria Sholten D’Ebneth wrote a book in which she claimed to have discovered, or rediscovered, an alignment of pre-Columbian sacred sites stretching from the ancient city of Tiwanaku (Tiahuanaco) in Bolivia to north of the city of Cajamarca in northern Peru. The alignment appeared to be incredibly accurate and covered a distance of around 1,000 miles (1,600 km), cutting across some of the highest mountains and steepest gradients in the entire world. The alignment had a precise orientation of exactly 45° West from true North, following the line of the Andes mountains.
Published only in Spanish, and now out of print even in that language, Sholten D’Ebneth’s, La Ruta de Wiracocha (The Route of Viracocha)[i] contains a wealth of information hardly known to the English speaking world. The alignment’s association with Viracocha, the great Andean creator god, teacher and civiliser of humankind, is a highly significant one. Many legends concerning the feats of Viracocha speak of his undertaking a journey, from the city of Tiwanaku towards the North West, eventually to leave the shores of South America’s Pacific coast just south of the present day border between Peru and Ecuador. Viracocha’s legendary journey, Sholten D’Ebneth revealed, corresponded with her own geometrical discovery of the alignment of many of the most ancient and sacred sites in the Andes, including the famous ones at Cusco (Cuzco), Ollantaytambo and, of course, the great and mysterious complex of Tiwanaku.
The many megalithic sites along Way of Viracocha have long given rise to theories and speculations about who built them and controversies about when they were built. At this juncture, it is perhaps worth pondering the sheer technical challenge of surveying this vast alignment across some of the most rugged, remote and mountainous terrain on earth. Indeed, my own research and that of others, indicate that the alignment could extend beyond Tiwanaku. The Peruvian architect Carlos Millena Villena has even suggested that it may form part of a great circle that girdles the entire globe. Whatever the length of the alignment is eventually determined to be, whoever surveyed it must have been aware of the curvature of the earth, as I hope to demonstrate.
When I plotted the Route of Viracocha, I had the benefit of using software such as Google Earth® and Marble. These programs enabled me to employ a spherical projection of the whole globe, rather than the “flat” Mercator Projection used in previous decades. As we will see later, using this map projection yielded rather different results from those of earlier researchers. This became evident when I extended Sholten D’Ebneth’s alignment beyond Tiwanaku towards the South East. If my findings are correct, it implies that whoever surveyed the Route of Viracocha, not only had an understanding of the earth’s curvature, but also understood the principles of spherical trigonometry.[ii] It is equally likely that those who undertook this work knew the dimensions of the Earth. The question then arose in my mind:
Could it be that Viracocha, the great teacher and restorer of civilization in the Andes, in some way embodied the scientific knowledge of a sophisticated, but long forgotten, high culture?
One clue to answering this question lies in Sholten D’Ebneth’s discovery of the connection between the Route of Viracocha and the geometry of an ancient South American sacred symbol, called the chakana.
The chakana, sacred number and geometry
Certain symbols seem to defy the changes brought about by time and ebb and flow of history. In South America, one such symbol is the chakana. Otherwise known as the Andean stepped cross, it has been found in the relics of so many of the varied pre-Columbian cultures of South America. In one form or another, you will find it in the Mapuche art work in the south, on the enigmatic stone blocks of Puma Punku, on the embroideries of the Incas, adorning the adobe walls of the city of Chan Chan and woven into the textiles of the war-like Huari culture. It has been found in the ancient pyramid city of Caral, which dates to around 4,000 BC, where it embellishes the joists of the Ceremonial Centre. Yet another name for it is the Inca Cross, but its provenance as a symbol is much more ancient. As with other symbols of great antiquity, the multiple meanings associated with chakana are the result of accretions over time.
Even today, you can see chakanas throughout South America, not just in the Andean region. I have even seen chakanas adorning the belt buckles of maté drinking gauchos in the Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil. In the Andes you will see the chakana everywhere: from rainbow coloured flags fluttering in the Plazas de Armas, to painted signs advertising restaurants and hotels. There is no space in a short article such as this to do justice to the multiplicity of interconnected meanings and correspondences associated with the chakana in contemporary Andean life and culture. These are usually summarized in the phrase Andean Cosmovision and readers interested in the manifold aspects of the chakana are encouraged to search the internet to learn more.
If we take the liberty for the moment of cutting through the complex of meanings associated with chakana, we find at its heart a code of number and geometry from which all of its later associations grew.
Astonishingly, these numbers appear to bear striking parallels with those found in ancient sacred texts from around the world. What is more, both the numbers and geometry of the chakana are found encoded in ancient architecture, much of it sacred, in many locations world-wide.
A still greater mystery is that certain numbers also seem to be encoded in the fabric of nature itself. Are we seeing here, not just the traces of an ancient, universal and sophisticated body of knowledge, but also a code that could tell us about the nature of the world in which we live? Perhaps there is something here that our current reductionist and materialist scientific consensus has missed, because it does not have the concepts to acknowledge its existence.
Let us now examine just a small part of the chakana’s number and geometry in order to provide some evidence of the above contentions. To draw the chakana geometrically, we start by dividing a square in two diagonally, and then circumscribing it (ie drawing a circle around the four corners of the square). The stepped cross of the chakana is then constructed within the space that has been outlined.
In classical Euclidean geometry, this process known as squaring the circle and was a fundamental task set for students of the discipline. In sacred geometry and alchemy, the square and the circle are thought to represent opposite principles; the square being masculine and the circle feminine. However, they are equal in that both consist of 360°. In esoteric terms, the act of squaring the circle equates with the unifying of masculine and feminine principles at work in the universe. Interestingly, a Peruvian researcher into the Route of Viracocha, Javier Lajo, found that many ancient sites and temples along its length had either square or circular geometry, depending on whether they were dedicated to male or female deities.[iii]
However, there is a little more to the process of drawing the chakana in the manner described above. It also involves drawing a 45° diagonal line across the square. The cutting of the square in this way produces a diagonal with a value equal to something called the Pythagorean Constant, which equates to the square root of two. The ancient Ancient Egyptians used exactly this geometric operation to derive the linear measurements of both the Royal Cubit and Remen.[iv] Interestingly, there appears to be a connection between this geometry, and not only ancient Egypt, but also the measurement system used at the Akapana Pyramid in Tiwanaku.[v] A further example of this geometry is seen in the traditional Andean flag, called the wiphala, which takes the form of a square divided diagonally.
The modern mind is accustomed to think of numbers solely as a means of defining quantities, but the ancients saw things differently. For them, particular numbers, and their multiples, also expressed certain qualities. Thus, odd numbers were considered masculine and even ones feminine, for example. There is one particular series of numbers that seems to recur in many sacred texts, which has been identified by several researchers in various fields of study. This set of numbers, or some of its members, occur in ancient systems for measuring time, in the dimensions of sacred buildings and numerous other contexts. They include the numbers 36, 72, 108, 144, 216, 288, 432, 504 and their multiples both by 2 and 10.
There is one particular number from this series that seems to be associated with the geometry of the chakana. In the form pictured in this article, the chakana contains 12 x 90° internal angles. Multiply these numbers together and we get a product of 1,080°. Multiples of this number occur frequently in the years, both human and divine, attributed to several of the Yugas in Vedic cosmology. In Gnosticism, 1,080 was said to represent the Divine Feminine and the Serpent of Wisdom.[vi] In Japan, Shinto priests strike the temple bell 108 times to herald the New Year, indicating the end of one cycle and the beginning of another. Even more than this, the number 108 seems to be encoded within certain measurements we use today to quantify the physical universe. The atomic weight of silver is 108 (traditionally considered a feminine metal) and the radius of the moon (alchemically and astrologically associated with silver) has been estimated to be 1,080 miles.
Of course, the sceptic may argue that I am simply playing with numbers and that all of this assumes that people in the ancient Andes would have had to divide the circle into 360° in order to obtain the number 1,080. The latter proposition is not so ridiculous as it may appear at first sight. The 360° circle was, we are told, a Sumerian innovation and there is evidence that it may have been applied in very early times to surveying[vii] and navigation.[viii] As for connections between ancient Sumeria and the Andes, well there is a curious artifact that is exhibited in a museum in La Paz, Bolivia, called the Fuente Magna.[ix] This first came to light in the late 1950s and was found on the altiplano (high Andean plateau) earlier in the century, not far from Tiwanaku. This ceramic bowl has writing on it that has been identified as proto-Sumerian, possibly dating from between 3,000-2,000BC.
Megalithic structures as relics of an ancient high culture?
It is no coincidence that many of the megalithic sites identified by Sholten D’Ebneth along the Way of Viracocha appear to be extremely ancient. Of course, this view is anathema to academically trained archaeologists, who see the development of culture in the Andes as a matter of slow and steady progress. In their scenario, none of the megalithic structures are much older than about 500BC (Tiwanaku/Puma Punku), and many of them, which they consider to have been built by the Incas (Cusco, Ollantaytambo), are considered much more recent still. By way of contrast, what may be termed alternative theorists consider these and other megalithic sites in the Andes to be the remains of an extremely ancient advanced culture, or cultures.
There is some evidence to support the latter view in the legends of the indigenous peoples of the Andes. Many of these speak of a time in the distant past, when there was a great civilization of demi-gods, called the Ñapac Machula (The Wise Old Ones),[x] elsewhere called the Viracochas. Other legends speak of the destruction of the ancient civilization by a great flood called the Uñu Pachakuti, which swept down the altiplano from the north obliterating everything in its path. In some legends, Viracocha himself is portrayed as as the one who restored the gifts of civilization to humanity after he had destroyed his first creation in the Uñu Pachakuti.[xi]Very little of this information is valued by academic archaeologists.
Feats of engineering that defy conventional explanations
Let us now take a brief look at what the construction of just one of the megalithic sites on the Route of Viracocha involved. Ollantaytambo lies in the Sacred Valley of the Incas to the north-west of Cusco. Its megalithic blocks are fashioned from a particularly hard stone called rose rhyolite and they weigh up to 50 tons (45,500 kg). There is even one stone that is estimated to weigh some 250 tons, lying at the bottom of the Urubamba river, which runs along the Sacred Valley.[xii]
It is worth considering the practicalities of this feat of construction, because stones this large would be extremely difficult to move and position today, even with modern hydraulic equipment. Now consider that these megaliths probably came from a quarry on the opposite side of the Sacred Valley, some 200 feet below the level of the construction itself, but requiring a 3,000 foot climb up the far side of the Valley just to reach them. Remember too that all of the stones had to be moved and positioned at an altitude of 9,160 feet (2,792 metres) above sea level, where there is a dearth of oxygen. When I first visited Ollantaytambo, I was left gasping and dizzy in my attempt to reach the top of its immense terraces, because I was not then accustomed to the altitude. (Some people never do acclimatize to it). The debilitating effect on muscular strength at high altitudes should not be underestimated, but it is hardly ever taken into account by conventional explanations of how this cyclopean structure ever could have been built in the high Andes. Consider also that the work was carried out in some of the most rugged terrain on earth, with the steepest of gradients and apparently without the use of any horses or pack animals, other than perhaps llamas.
Hints of a technology about which we know next to nothing
It is not just the size and scale of many of these constructions that defy conventional explanations, there is also the fact that some stones have been cut with such precision that one has to question what their original purpose may have been. The engineer Chris Dunn has remarked that the degree of precision of these stones is way beyond what would be needed for building purposes.[xiii]
There is one type of stone in particular that seems to have been used in this way; a stone called grey andesite. Invariably, it is grey andesite that is cut to the most precise angles, has the flattest planes and which often has finely and regularly drilled holes. At Tiwanaku and neighboring Puma Punku, you can find precisely cut blocks of it in abundance, scattered in a desultory manner amongst the ruins of this enigmatic complex. A few of the grey andesite blocks here have chakanas carved on to them. It was during a visit to Puma Punku at the end of 2012, that I discovered a curious fact about these particular stones. When a compass was moved across the carving of the chakana, the direction of the magnetic field changed; most often this was to an orientation of 45°NW.
The following year, I returned and tried the same test on two larger blocks of grey andesite marked with chakanas at a temple called Kantatallita in the neighbouring Tiwanaku complex. Again, I got a similar result when I moved the compass across the face of the chakanas. However, this time I noticed another effect. The distortion in the magnetic field appeared to be a lot stronger on the left-hand side of one of the carvings, with the compass reading settling rapidly at 45°NW off magnetic north, but it did so considerably more slowly on the right-hand side of the carving.
I decided to explore the rear side of the stone block. Directly behind the left side of the carved chakana, and inserted into the andesite, was a small diamond-shaped piece of black stone, which I can only presume to have been magnetite. When I passed the compass along the back of the stone for the first time, it gave a normal reading until it reached the inserted black stone, when the polarity reversed to give a reading of 180° off magnetic north. The second time I moved the compass across the andesite, as soon as it reached the insert, the needle began to spin rapidly in an anti-clockwise direction!
Some helpful preliminary observations:
- the deflection in the magnetic field appeared to be “calibrated” in some way, with the compass reading settling on 45° and 180°, rather than random, or arbitrary values;
- only grey andesite stones carved with the chakana produced this effect;
- there seemed to be a dynamic element to the changes in magnetic field, with for example, the appearance of the sun from behind a cloud apparently amplifying the effects.
At this point, I shall resist the temptation to speculate too much, other than to note the possible correlation between the 45°NW refraction in the magnetic field and the orientation of the Route of Viracocha, which passes through Tiwanaku. Moreover, the fact that the refraction in the magnetic field seemed to be calibrated, and to occur in regular proportions of a 360° circle, suggests some form of engineering technology with which we are not familiar. Further field work is most definitely needed.
Amazing discoveries are being made in southern Bolivia
It was my own use of computerized maps of the globe that enabled me to plot the Route of Viracocha in spherical geometric space, coupled with what can only be termed synchronicity, that led me to the yet another discovery. Sholten D’Ebneth had identified the starting point of the alignment at Tiwanaku, but as mentioned at the beginning of this article, subsequent researchers had extended it to the south east, as far as the city of Potosí in southern Bolivia.
When I came to trace the Route for myself on the computer I found that Potosí actually lay well to the south of the alignment. This was presumably because earlier researchers had used maps with a flat Mercator Projection. By way of contrast, my plotting of the alignment crossed what looked like an insignificant hill set amongst the mountains and valleys, just to the east of the Andean Lake Poopo.
In late 2013, I was traveling over land from Buenos Aires to undertake some more research work in Bolivia and Peru. I had reached the Bolivian border town of Villazon and had bought a train ticket there to take me further north. I decided to reserve some accommodation in the mining town of Oruro, at the end of the railway line that in earlier times used to run all the way from Buenos Aires to La Paz. When making my booking on the internet, I was intrigued to find a hostel called the “Explorers Inn.” with the even more intriguing sub-title of “Atlantis in the Andes.” I wondered if there was perhaps something we could learn from each other? Hence, I decided to book a room there and went off to board my train.
It was not until after my first night at the Explorers Inn, and I was chatting with the owner over breakfast, that the subject of the “pyramid” came up in the conversation. The owner was soon joined by the Tour Manager at the Inn, Luis Gutierrez, who elaborated on the subject of the “pyramid”. (Its current name is Inka Pukara, which means Fortress of the Inca). This was, I was told, was what appeared to be a large hill, directly to the south-east of Oruro, near a small mining town called Huanuni.
Luis had spent his youth wandering the southern altiplano of Bolivia, exploring archaeological sites and gathering legends and traditions from the local Aymara people about their history and culture. As a result, he has acquired a deep understanding of the indigenous traditions in this little-known part of the Andes. His work has led him to some very different conclusions from the academic archaeologists about Andean prehistory. Luis’ knowledge of the region was also instrumental in helping Jim Allen’s pioneering work around Lake Poopo and Pamapa Aullagas.
He told me that Inka Pukara was one of the most ancient huacas, held sacred to the local people and that, for this reason, it was never to be mined. Although it looked just like a hill from below, it actually has a massive vaulted roof, which spans most of its summit. There are also entrances, with staircases, some of which are spiral, that descend from the roof entrances to the interior. From here, the stairs are said to extend into a network of tunnels and passageways.
It did not take much persuasion on Luis’ part for a visit to be arranged to Inka Pukara, which would of course, need to include a meeting with a local elder first. It was a little later, when Luis and I were discussing our various research interests one evening, that the realization occurred. It turned out that Inka Pukara was indeed the apparently insignificant hill I had noticed, when extending the Route of Viracocha beyond Tiwanaku and through Oruro, on the computer screen!
When Luis told me of the local legends concerning Inka Pukara the significance of the place really started to dawn on me. There were legends of tunnels stretching for many miles and of armor clad mummies. However, the most telling legend for me was that of a great flood that had swept along the altiplano from the north. The rush of water was accompanied by fire raining down on the land from the heavens. All of this occurred when, so the locals say, the sun went dark. Understandably terrified, the population of that time had taken refuge inside the tunnel system beneath Inka Pukara.
This account struck a particular chord with me, because it was so similar to ones I have read and listened to of the cataclysmic transitions that took place, both before and after the Younger Dryas period. This was the final and sudden reprise of the Ice Age, lasting from around 10,900BC to 9,500BC[xiv] in what geologists now consider a very turbulent transformation from an extended period of glaciations to the current Holocene era. Was this really an account of those far-off times? If so, it may have immense significance for the dating of this and other sites along the Route of Viracoha.
More work needs to be done
Luis Gutierrez is keen to explore the interior the Inka Pukara further, but this work is fraught with potential dangers. It will require a fully equipped team of trained speleologists, including some members who possess geological, geophysical and archaeological knowledge. Until that time, Inka Pukara will remain a mystery and an enigma.
There are still even more mysteries to be fathomed in and around the village of Huanuni and in the wider southern altiplano. There appear to be sophisticated stellar observatories, ancient roadways, that may pre-date the Incas by many thousands of years, and what seems to be a massive staircase sculpted into the side of a mountain. These sites, if indeed they are traces of ancient human cultures, suggest that there were peoples far more ancient, and of unknown provenance, than has hitherto been considered possible in South America. All of these phenomena need to be scrutinized and evaluated. Beyond all of this, the greater mystery of the Route of Viracocha has yet to reveal many of its deepest secrets to the modern world.
Dave Truman is a writer, researcher and traveller, who divides his time between South America and the Wirral Peninsula in England. In the past, he has worked as a lecturer and civil servant, but more recently organized the highly successful Beyond Knowledge Conferences in Liverpool, England in 2008 and 2009. He has written articles for Cort Lindahl’s True History Journal on South American geomancy, has appeared as a guest on Sweden’s Red Ice Radio and was a speaker the North of England’s Mysterious Earth Conference in 2014. Dave’s other interests include geopolitics, and in pursuit of this, he has written articles for the Los Angeles based on line publication End the Lie. His contributions provided a critique of the influence of globalization on contemporary Latin America and its politicians. He is currently working on his upcoming book, Lost Science in the Andes: understanding the minds that shaped the great civilization of the Ice Age.
[i] Sholten D’Ebneth, Maria, La Ruta de Wiracocha, Editorial Juan Mejía Baca, Lima, 1977.
[ii] See Jim Allison’s work on the ancients’ use of Great Circles and spherical trigonometry: http://home.hiwaay.net/~jalison/index.html
[iii] See: Lajo, Javier, Qhapaq Ñan: La Ruta Inca de Sabiduría, Centro de Estudios Nueva Economía y Sociedad, Lima, 2005.
[iv] Carlson, Randall, Cosmic Patterns & Sacred Architecture, Red Ice Radio interview, February 2013, http://www.redicemembers.com/secure/radio/program.php?id=681
[v] See Jim Allen’s work on measurement systems in the ancient Andes: http://www.atlantisbolivia.org/tiwanakucubits.htm
[vi] Michell, John, The Dimensions of Paradise: Sacred Geometry, Ancient Science, and the Heavenly Order on Earth, Inner Traditions, Rochester Vermont, 1971.
[vii] Munck, Carl, The Code, DVD box set, UFO TV, 1982
[viii] See: Hapgood, Charles, Maps of the Ancient Sea Kings, Adventures Unlimited Press, Kempton, Illinois, 1996.
[ix] See: http://www.faculty.ucr.edu/~legneref/archeol/fuentema.htm
[x] Fernandez-Baca Tupayachi, Carlos, Saqsaywaman: A Model of Atlantis, the Untold Story, Munaypacha, Lima, 2006, p161.
[xi] See: Sarmiento de Gamboa, Pedro, La Historia de Los Incas, http://www.ellibrototal.com/ltotal/?t=1&d=3592_3705_1_1_3592
[xii] Hatcher Childress, David, Lost Cities and Ancient Mysteries of South America, Adventures Unlimited Press, Kempton, Illinois, 1986, p98.
[xiii] See: Ancient Technology in Peru and Bolivia, UFO TV, Adventures Unlimited series, 2011.
[xiv] See: Schoch, Robert M, Forgotten Civilization: the Role of Solar Outbursts in our Past and Future, Inner Traditions, Rochester Vermont, 2012; Expanded Perspectives’ interview with Andrew Collins, http://www.expandedperspectives.com/andrew-collins-gobekli-tepe-genesis-of-the-gods/; & Carlson, Randall, Sacred Patterns and Cycles of Catastrophe, (DVD), Sacred Geometry International, 2012.
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