Dating back to 1200 BC, the Tiwanaku, whose empire radiated out from the Altiplano around Lake Titikaka until 1150 AD, developed the skills to create stone buildings remarkable for their grandeur and perfection. Whilst the excavation of these sites is a tribute to archaeologists of modern Bolivia, we can only wonder at such incredible feats of engineering. It remains a mystery as to how such stones weighing more than 130 tons each were moved and fitted together so perfectly; a playing card cannot be inserted between them.


This imaginative and sophisticated civilisation built pyramids and subterranean temples, developed a system of sound amplification in the walls of their great buildings and discovered how to preserve vegetables by freeze-drying and from the Tiwanaku the Incas learned their own building skills.


The earliest stage of development of the Tiwanaku people is referred to as the Village Stage. Their self-sufficient economy was based on fishing and agriculture around the shores of Lake Titikaka, growing potatoes and a tuber called mandioca. They built houses of adobe mud with double pitched roofs and made pottery decorated with red dye around incisions and traced motifs. At this stage they began to work with metals and copper in particular. Whilst no evidence has been found of their form of worship, the dead were buried in a ritual manner in circular holes, accompanied by various belongings.